I currently refurbish vintage and 50's, 60's and 70's costume
jewelry. I find that most of the stones have been set in place and
then sprayed with a glue that turns yellow after several years. I
find glue on top of the metals as though the glue was used as a
sealant over the metal and stones.
More likely a lacquer than a glue. Perhaps intended to help preserve
the metal finish. But your observation is a surprise to me. I’ve not
seen this as a common feature of the pieces I’ve worked on of this
sort. Rhinestones/foilbacks actually set in small fairly lightweight
prongs is common in the higher quality costume work. Of the pieces
like this I’ve seen, the metal is as often as not, sterling silver.
I’ve seen some of these even stamped Tiffany, though I don’g know if
that’s authentic. On these, there generally is no glue at all. If
the metal is coated with a lacquer, at least on the ones I’ve
commonly seen, usually the stones are set or glued afterwards.
nothing covering the tops of the stones/glass/rhinestones. That makes
sense, since covering the tops would greatly diminish the sparkle…
I try to leave the piece of jewelry as the maker made it, but if a
piece isn't signed, I take the stones out and reset them
individually. I don't put glue on top of the stones.
As to the metals, I touch up the deplated areas with a gold or
silver leaf. I am thinking about trying to use a pen plating
system, because the leaf doesn't make the areas shiny.
If the shine is gone, a plating system won’t restore the shine.
Plating can do it on a more complex level, but you’d be completely
refinishing the piece by removing old plating (maybe), refinishing
the metal to at least some degree, and redoing a bright nickle plate
(tank plating, not a pen), which would then give a bright surface for
subsequent gold or silver plate. This is not a simple process. The
gold leaf is a lot easier, and if you burnish it properly after
application, you can get, at the least, a nice bright sheen, if not
an actual reflective mirror shine. And the leaf is a thicker
application than you get with plating, so if you apply it well, it
might last longer too.
As to adhesive there is a glue that is manufactured for
rhinestones, named G-S HYPO Cement. It can be bought at
http://www.toolsGS.com This adhesive has a very small precision
applicator, that works great! On the box it says, for fine detail
work, i.e. hobbies, crafts, model building, ceramic and plastic
repair, fly fishing lures, watch crystals, jewelry making, bead
crafts, industrial application and fine screw locking. I hope
Decent, easy to use for rhinestones. Originally made for watch
crystals, I think. (the box didn’t have all those other applications
when I first started buy the stuff…) It’s not quite as permanent or
strong, though, as some other cements, as one is supposed to be able,
at a later date, to remove the watch crystal again without damage if
needed. I use super glue. The trick is to only use a tiny amount.
Don’t apply with the tip of the container it comes in. Put a drop of
the glue on your bench pin, or a scrap plastic gem box lid, or
something. It won’t set quickly in a thick mass like that. Carefully
apply by dipping the end of a sawblade in the drop and applying like
that. Very small drop. Or carefully hold the rhinestone in sharp
tweezers by the edge so you can dip just the culet in the glue. It
will pick up enough. Drop in the setting. Done right, with a loupe
you can just see a little of the glue when you look down the side of
the girdle. It shouldn’t come up past the girdle. Glued this way, it
won’t be coming out for a very long time. The hypo cement is good,
and maybe easier, but I think this is stronger and longer lasting. Or
not. But it’s the way I do it…
By the way, if any orchidians find themselves in need of a vintage
garnet and glass doublet, typical in cheaper jeweler in the late
1800s and eary 1900s, I’ve got quite a lot of them around. Same with
foilbacks and some other types of simulated stones, though often
those are easier to locate today. When my current employer recently
moved from the location it had been in for many decades, among the
stuff they didn’t really want to bother with was a lot of old "junk"
stone inventory (treasure to my mind, not junk, but the business
hadn’t need it for a long time) Much of it includes the old synthetic
and imiation stuff from when the business was founded in the 30s.
They offered, and I bought, the whole lot. Still trying to sort
through all of it. If a piece you’re working on needs an exact
replacement and you don’t happen to have one, email me. I might be
able to help. Some of this is pretty odd stuff. Elks teeth anyone?
teensy sphynx heads?.. Tiny glass cabs of fake coral or turqoise…
glass imitation half pearls… etc. Anyway. If you’re in a jam on
something, and remember this posting…