- It's a breeze to replace any necklace or bracelet clasp that's attached
by links and, if you're doing so, consider getting a barrel clasp;
those really are the most secure (and also easy to operate). Clasps
can sometimes be repaired without much trouble, too. Problems
with the "V-spring" type which operates by friction are typically caused
by compression of the "V" (the folded metal wedge), so try
gently lifting the flared side with a knife blade. The
"C-spring" type, when bent, can be realigned to close properly
with plier pressure at the sides (not too much pressure or the bolt
could pop out of the ring).
PINS - When brooches won't close properly, check to see whether there's a
problem with the hook, pin or hinge. It might be the hook has
just gotten crushed and you can easily lift and bend it back into shape
with needle-nosed pliers. The same tool will lift a flattened
pin (one that bends down in the middle and up at the end); to repair this,
grip it just in front of the hinge, to isolate the hinge from pressure,
and gently bend upward. To straighten a bent pin, use two pairs
of pliers, always keeping one in a stable position by the hinge to protect
it, while using the other to correct the bends. You may have to work
in stages along the pin. If the hinge flanges (sides) have become
flattened or distorted and the little "dimples" aren't engaging
with the spring, just use pliers to compress them back into the right
position. Another possibility, in the case of a so-called
"sprung hinge," is that the coil of wire fastened to the hinge
end of the pinstem has become compressed from wear. In this case, use
two pairs of pliers, one pulling outward on the pin near the hinge and the
other pulling outward on on its opposite end (the little tail of wire that
FINDINGS - Earrings with findings that have become distorted can
usually be put right within just a few minutes. Misshapen earwires
can often be reshaped bare-handed but, if they're unusually thick, apply
gentle pressure with your cushioned pliers. Bent screw clips respond
well to the same treatment; in this case you may need two pairs of pliers
to grip both sides of the stirrup and realign the pad with the cup.
If the problem is a stuck screw, try cleaning it with alcohol and then
applying a little lubricating oil (cleaning away the excess, of course).
When you're dealing with crooked posts, a squeeze with flat pliers is in
order, but be careful to exert only direct pressure on the post so you
don't snap it off the earring. Clip-on earrings used to be a mystery
to me, but I've finally discovered they're meant to be adjustable.
That metal prong on the back of the tab is responsible for how tautly they
fit; just pull or push it gently until, by trial and error, you find
the spot that makes them comfortable for you. If they're too loose,
it's been crushed down, so pull it outward. If you want to
change to a different type of finding, this can be done at home if the
earrings have a loop at the top, because you can buy new findings that
have a loop at the bottom. It's simply a matter of opening one of
those loops with pliers or a blade and connecting things up, adding a
matching jump ring if necessary for the earrings to face the
right way, and then closing all openings securely with the pliers.
BEADS - You don't have to be skilled to accomplish this, but the process
takes more patience than I have. A large number of websites offer
detailed instructions on bead stringing, so I won't address the subject
here - except to say that, if you're going to the trouble, you might as
well use high-quality silk thread or cable. I understand there's a
new 49-stranded nylon sheathed cable, supplied under various brand names.
It eliminates the need to use a beading needle, is stronger than thread,
resists fraying and won't damage crystal beads as thread can.
RHINESTONES & MARCASITES - If it's making you crazy to
pay five or ten dollars for a professional to replace one rhinestone or
marcasite - and then have it turn out be slightly off in color or size -
you're about where I am. Unfortunately I haven't yet found a viable
alternative. In theory this should be a procedure anyone can
accomplish at home, but getting the materials is highly problematic.
Reusing marcasites from unwanted jewelry (if you have any) is a
possibility, but you can't normally re-use rhinestones, since their
foil backing will be disturbed by removal from the prior setting. As
for new rhinestones, they're sold in overlarge quantities and, when
you order a mixed bag, there's no assurance it will contain what you need.
Something I intend to try soon is a service I ran across online, which
allegedly can match almost any rhinestone and installs them at a
reasonable price. I'll defer mentioning the name until after
first-hand experience. If you can recommend sources for marcasites
and/or rhinestones, please pass them along and the information
will be included in our next newsletter.