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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Antique Finish Question

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Dad\'s ring side
Dad's ring side  

Dad\'s ring "stone"
Dad's ring "stone"  
Hello there. I'm not sure I have enough info for you, but here goes. My dad passed in 2013. He was a Marine, and Vietnam veteran. When he passed, my stepmother sent a ring that he'd had made honoring his time in the service. I believe the manufacturer was Josten's, but I'm not sure; and have been unable to reach my stepmother. The style kind of screams Josten's. The ring is silver or silver-like. The "stone" seems to be some sort of plastic or resin. The stone is stamped with the Marines emblem and detailed with "gold"; and the sides were finished with black antiquing. I say were, because most of the black is gone! Dad wore it constantly, and I've been wearing it around my neck with a length of paracord, so I expected some wear; but most of it is gone! Do you know if the black finish can be restored? If not, could it be fully removed? Do you have a general idea on what it would cost me, either way? Thanks!

Sorry for the photo quality. I only had my phone available as a camera.

Answer
I am back with an answer.  ------------------
Gloria, generally three types of antiquing methods are used on fraternal, school and military type rings: 1) A durable flat color paint material applied and highlights wiped or buffed to remove the antiquing material, 2)A chemical applied which create a surface "oxidation" or darkening, 3)An electroplated dark coloration

From your photos, I believe the original method was a flat black paint made for this purpose. That is the most common method of antiquing or accenting recesses in rings with a dark color and is what is seen on most fraternal jewelry today.

Here is a link to the material for sale from a jewelers supply house:  
http://www.riogrande.com/Search/antiquing-solutions

The paint material:Midas Background Antique and Solvent Kit.  If the old antiquing is removed(by gentle brushing with a brass brush or other buffing or cleaning methods by a jeweler) the paint may be applied neatly and when almost dry the highlights are wiped free of paint. The result will likely be close to identical to the original.  Since the stone is of unknown material, care must be used with solvents.  A decent jeweler should be able to figure out the material of the stone and inlay and do the job  for a reasonable price.

The chemical version:Midas Black Max Oxidizer Solutions  Having experience with the "black max" chemical solution, I do not recommend it. The solution is messy to work with and the resulting antique color is often steely gray and not black.  On large sections  such as on the open areas on the ring sides. obtaining a uniform coloration is difficult at best.  Also, if cleaned in an ultrasonic cleaner(like a jeweler uses) the antique color is often removed in a spotty fashion.  Not knowing the metal make-up of the ring leaved me unsure if the chemical would work well in the first place.

Electroplated antiquing is superior but will be the most costly, perhaps $50 or so. Without having your ring in hand to examine, I cannot give you a close estimate for any of the methods of antiquing the surface.

I suggest you visit a reputable jeweler who will provide an estimate on doing the work. Simply removing the remaining antiquing might be the best and most lasting treatment for the ring. New antiquing material will be subject to wearing or chipping away over time, just as was the original.

Josten puts their trademark inside the ring band and uses hard stones, often man-made ruby or sapphires.  The setting on your ring appears to be an applied bezel setting and is not done in the manner used by Josten.  If the stone is not a hard and durable "gem" material, extra care must be exercised by the jeweler doing the work.


Most any jeweler with  few years experience should be able to do the work in a satisfactory manner. Pricing will depend at least partially on the metal making up the ring and the ease or difficulty of removing the remaining coloration. The last is often relatively fine hand work with a small rotary tool, removing the antique and not taking crispness from the detail of the ring design.  Whether or not a solvent may be used to remove the color depends on whether the "gem" and inlay are imperious to the solvent or at risk of being damaged.


Gloria, I do hope this helps somewhat. A jeweler should be familiar with the products shown at the supplier link.

Get back with me if need be. Fair enough?   God Bless and Peace.  Thomas.
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Dear Gloria,

I just received your question, 2 days later than it should have been.  I will give advice on this restoration tomorrow and get that to you.  Yes, the antique finish CAN be restored or removed, either way. I will be back.  

God Bless.  Thomas.  

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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.

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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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