(Photo by: Burcu Avsar + Zach DeSar from the book, Button It Up)
How to Mend Broken Jewelry
By Susan Beal
Mending your own jewelry can be easy to do. If a pendant chain snaps, a clasp comes off a necklace, or you need to replace an earring wire, a few basic techniques can get your favorite pieces right back into heavy rotation. Make sure you have some basic tools and materials on hand, and you’re all set to fix things up!
Here are a few simple techniques to try, depending on the way your piece has broken.
The first basic method to try is attaching or re-joining with jump rings — tiny circles or ovals of wire with an opening. They come in a huge range of sizes and in all different gauges (meaning how thick the wire is) so you can choose the right one for your repair.
I’ve made a little video that shows you how to open and close jump rings securely using a pair of pliers — plus how to use them to join a chain to a clasp or ring, and turn a charm into a simple forward-facing pendant. Use a smaller jump ring to join a delicate chain to a clasp, or a larger one for a thicker or heavier style.
If a clasp comes off a pendant chain or necklace, you can often rejoin it with a new jump ring. Look for one similar to the broken one, or use one gauge up if the ring was too fragile to begin with.
This small clasp is joined to a delicate chain with 4mm jump rings.
And remember, if the replacement jump ring is giving you fits, just throw it away and start again with another one — it’s not worth endlessly wrestling with, and metal can get work-hardened and brittle after being handled too much.
You can also open and close an earring wire the same way you work with jump rings. Just remove the earring dangle from a broken or damaged hook and replace it with a new one. (This is also great for changing earrings from clip to pierced or vice versa.)
This pair of dangly earrings has simple hook-style earring wires. To replace old ones, just use your pliers to carefully open the wire loop at the bottom of the earring wire and then re-close it securely, just as you would with a jump ring.
If a chain snaps, an easy way to mend it is to cut away any broken or damaged links and then join the open links with a new jump ring. With luck, you can find a replacement that blends right into the chain links, color and style-wise. If a ring stands out too much, how about adding a tiny charm as an accent there, as if the piece was intentionally designed that way?
If you can’t find a similar ring to use for a broken chain, you can consider using wirework to mend your piece by creating a new bead link to join the chain pieces together. This will obviously change the look of the piece, but it can be a pretty and striking design element — especially if you choose a bead that complements your necklace or pendant, or add 2 beads into the chain symmetrically or asymmetrically. I happen to like asymmetry in jewelry, so the example I’m showing of a mended chain includes 2 beads spaced along one side, above a pendant piece: one bead link that mends the chain at the breaking point, and the other just added for a visual balance.
This delicate chain is joined with 2 small carnelian beads wrapped with 24-gauge sterling wire.
This five-minute video I’ve made shows how to make a bead dangle, using the same wire-wrapping technique you’d use to join a chain with a bead as in the photo. Make a wrapped loop above and below your bead of choice, joining each of the loops to a chain link before completing the wraps.
You can also make a replacement clasp with wirework. I wrote a tutorial for a simple version: an S-clasp to make with pliers and a heavier-gauge wire.
These S-clasps are simple to make with 14- or 16-gauge wire.
There are so many ways to mend other types of broken jewelry. Try searching YouTube or the CRAFT archives for resources on soldering, restringing, and other techniques. For gluing, thistothat.com is a helpful collection of recommendations tailored to the materials you’re working with. And my book, Bead Simple has an illustrated techniques section that includes repairs and fixes, too.
About the Author:
Susan Beal is a crafter and writer in Portland, Ore., who loves to drink coffee, sew, and make things with buttons. Her new book, Button It Up, is out now!