Good Morning Orchid,
I started working part time as a “jeweler” in a local mall store
where we specializes in jewelry, watch & electronics repair, (cell
phones, iPads, etc.). I don’t touch the electronics or watches other
than to check the movement, change out batteries, lube the seal, blow
out dust, size a band, replace a broken pin-stem, etc. I am no
watchmaker and leave much of that to the watch tech. My job primarily
is working as “the jeweler”. I am learning FAST there is a huge
difference between being a “Jewelry Artist” and a bench jeweler and
repair tech! It’s a totally fun job to do only 2 days/week but it’s
often “trial by fire” as I’m the only jeweler on duty, having been
specifically hired so the other jeweler can actually have days off.
There is much to learn about repairs and pretty much I teach myself
as I go.
Most of it is very easy stuff: repair/replace broken findings, retie
pearl strings, re-tip prongs, order & reset a lost stone, etc. I
won’t touch anything I’m not confident I can do, and have had to
leave a couple items for the other jeweler to fix when she returns,
which makes me feel bad for her. Things I need to learn include
repair/replacing channel set baguettes, fixing those nasty little
"melee"or"bead set" tiny stones when they are set in those huge flat
jewelry pieces, (God I hate those!). Most of the work is not at all
difficult, but sometimes it can be challenging. Perhaps someone can
recommend some sort of bench jeweler’s repair manual?
But specifically, I’m looking for tips & tricks concerning the use
of the laser welder, especially on tiny chains and hollow-formed
We have an “iWeld Benchtop” laser with microscope to use for our
repairs and I am learning to LOVE it! I’m so much less worried about
stones when re-tipping prongs and sizing a ring is now done so fast
on the laser with very quick cleanup. I am very new to laser welding.
I was given samples or “practice pieces” in the different metals to
learn on before they turned me loose on our customer’s jewelry and
was quite surprised at how quickly I picked it up. But I do struggle
sometimes, especially with tiny box chains, on the hollow links in
twisted ropes and with those damningly thin hollow formed rings,
(seriously I don’t even know how the customers aren’t collapsing some
of this stuff, it just feels/looks like junk jewelry to me!). Lately,
we are seeing that many of the new Figaro chains are now hollow made,
too. I am certain this is a direct result of the high price of
Last week a few rings came in for re-sizing. They looked to be solid
but turned out to have very thinly walled hollow shanks, even the
very back of one ring shank was hollow. When it was cut on the sizing
jig it collapsed the edges, making a flat mess & needing even more
repair time because of it.
Fortunately it was not me who made this error, but I was the one who
had to fix it.
Recently a ring came back to us to be fixed for a second time
because it literally tore apart next to where it was welded after it
was sized by the tech I replaced. I THINK the previous jeweler had
pushed the ends together and held it closed then lasered it, creating
a pulling tension or stress in the shank, and perhaps this can
explain why it tore apart? I am just guessing here, as it was before
my time. What I did to fix it was to clean the edges so they were
totally flat, (replacing the torn metal with a new piece), then
carefully bent the shank together much like I would a jump ring, yet
making sure there was no tension in it. Then lined the edges up
really well and finally laser welded it back together. I struggled
with the thin hollow walls though, and it was difficult to find a
laser setting that wouldn’t blow through.
The iWeld does have some “presets” available, and I use these as a
guide, but I often still have to turn down the volts and can still
blow through a wall causing a need to fill in with laser wire. Can
anyone make some suggestions about laser repairs, especially hollow
jewelry, or perhaps guide me to any articles, manuals or posts
concerning these issues?
Sorry to be so long winded!