Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/amber repair

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Question
Hello,
I am helping a friend sell gobs of jewelry from an estate.  I have a large square amber stone that just popped out of it's
simple silver bracelet setting?  Can this be glued into place?
the silver band has no markings.
Thanks

Answer
Hi Paula,

Thanks for this question.  The simple answer to your question is yes.  However, there is a difference in doing a good job of gluing the amber and gluing it in only for it to come out again relatively soon.

This will work with amber and most fake amber which is generally a plastic or glass of some sort. The "secret" is using a cement that cures clear as water and does not show obviously with a clear or translucent stone.  I recommend a two part epoxy cement and one brand in particular works very well: Hughes 330.  You can see it on the Internet and it might be found at better crafts stores and at rock and mineral shops. This is not the 5 minute type but takes about 2 hours to harden where parts won't slip. Other brands will work as well for your application but check the color of the cement when cured.  Many brands cure an amber-like color and that would likely be ok.  Since the cement uses two parts and you mix equal volumes of each, it is best to choose an epoxy that comes in two tubes.  The squeeze tubes make it easy to get out equal volumes and are not so messy as the cements in a syringe-like double tube, especially after more than one use.  A 5 minute cure epoxy will work but be sure everything is in exact placement when the cement is applied; you don't have time to do much rearrangement with 5 minute cure cements.  For just a few items, use an epoxy from a crafts for home supply store.

1. Make sure you know beforehand which way the stone goes back into the mounting.
2. Clean the stone and setting well and give a final wipe with alcohol and pat dry. Do not put fingers on the surfaces where cement will go between the stone and metal. This cleanliness removes skin oil from the contact area and helps assure a long lasting glue bond.
3. Using waxed paper, a  plastic baggie or other disposable surface, squeeze out two small globs of the epoxy parts.
4. Use a throw-away mixer, like a toothpick.   Mix the two parts completely and with a pointy end of a toothpick(or other handy mixer), run a small and thin line of cement where the stone will actually contact the metal.  You want cement at the contact point and not other places where it will be unsightly. Don't use too much since some might squeeze out when the stone is pressed in place. With that done, put the mixer tool on the mixed cement. This will be your way to check the cement for hardness as it cures without touching the stone and setting.
5. Prop the setting and stone in a place where all will not move and the stone will stay in place. Leave alone for about 2 hours. Check the mixer tool and see it if it securely held in the leftover cement. It still a tiny bit flexible, leave overnight and check the next day.

Paula, I know this seems much more complicated than using an instant glue but believe me, it works much better and looks better when finished.  Mess up with super glue and you are often stuck. At least the epoxy gives some time to move the items a bit if need be.  Remember, the epoxy does not have any holding power before it begins to cure.

If there is just a tiny bit of excess which squeezed out, you can try to wipe it away with a soft lint free cloth (like old t-shirt material) and a touch of alcohol.


There are other cements and one part cements which will work ok for your purposes and are likely as good as what is on cemented jewelery items in the first place. Try a one part cement if you want but be sure it allows you working time to rearrange stuff if need be.  Still remember to thoroughly clean the stone and setting, regardless of the cement used.

Ahhh...there you have  it!  Oh, if used for pearls, put a tiny bit on the pearl hole an then cement on the post and push in place. Be sure of the fit first.  No post? Put cement where the pearl contacts the metal just as with the amber. You may be gluing several items going through the estate items.

Thanks, best wishes with the project.  God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.  

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Thomas

Expertise

Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.

Experience

I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education/Credentials
Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to jewelry...wow, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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