Laser repairs to antique jewellery

The following has just gone out with the JPM email newsheet

… and I’d love to hear of any personal experiences using laser
welding on antique pieces.


Laser welding is now commonplace in jewellery manufacturing and
repair. The technique, which affects only microscopic areas and uses
very localised heat, is increasingly being used to make almost
imperceptible repairs on antique gold jewellery. Those involved with
antique jewellery in any capacity should recognise the characteristic
weld marks (for examples on a Victorian locket hinge see ). A
use of laser welding in the restoration of a seventeenth century
enamelled gold and silver monstrance has recently been published (C.
Innocenti, G. Pieri, M. Yanagishita, R. Pini, S. Siano and A. Zanini.
Application of laser welding to the restoration of the ostensory of
the martyr St. Ignatius from Palermo. Journal of Cultural Heritage,
4, no. Supplement 1 (2003) 362-366 - first reported at a conference
on Lasers in the Conservation of Artworks (LACONA) held in Paris in
2001). The authors believe that this is first application of laser
welding in the conservation of a work of art. The ‘non-reversibility’
of the joining process will attract some criticism from within the
conservation community.

By the way if any of you would like a copy of the whole newssheet by
email (topics range from recently excavated ancient jewellery to De
Beers talk’s with the US Justice Department) just send an email to and put ‘sample’ in the subject line.
The newsheet goes out two or three times a month and it’s free to
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Jack Ogden
International Jewellery & Precious Metal Network (JPM)

   .. and I'd love to hear of any personal experiences using laser
welding on antique pieces. 

Hello Jack; I specialize in estate jewelry restoration. I have, in
my collection of jobs requiring more R&D than can allow them prompt
turnaround, a pair of scissors from an Etio. Some hack with a laser,
in an attempt to repair them, blew holes through the metal in several
places. Some other hack, possibly the same hack, also melted holes
in other places attempting to solder them. Which wrong headed
attempt came first, the torch or the laser? My point is, a tool is
only as good as the intelligence and experience of the operator.
Lasers are not a magic bullet to turn any ham-handed idiot into a
skilled craftsman. I’m not sure how to approach this job yet. It’s
always harder to correct a bad repair than to do it right the first
time. Possibly some wax work under high magnification and subsequent
electroforming, but tests will be done first.

David L. Huffman

David, well said. There are at least 4 People doing laser welding in
my building. One is a hack, and I will NEVER again give him anything
to do. I learn from bad experience.

Laser welding is a wonderful tool in the right hands. I once had a
piece of Victorian Mourning jewelry repaired. It had a section of
woven human hair from the deceased, and we were able to weld a spot
immediately adjacent to the hair without burning it. It could not
have been done beore laser technology.

David Barzilay
Lord of the Rings
607 S Hill St Ste 850
Los Angeles, CA 90014-1718