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Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/Repair of marcasite - stones burned up?

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Question
Hi. I have a lot of beautiful marcasite pieces (in sterling) and they have lost stones. I've brought pieces to several different jewelers who say they don't repair marcasite because the stones burn up or disintigrate during the "soldering process".  I read somewhere that stones are replaced using epoxy glue.  Can you tell me if that's correct?  Thank you!

Answer
Dear Joanne,

You are correct in both thoughts. Yes, heat easily destroys marcasite!  I have seen these pretty stones “pop” apart, like the top was blown right off.  They do note actually burn up but do shatter and show many sorts of damage from fractures, discoloration, etc.   And, epoxy and most other cements which might be used to hold the stones in place will burn and create an awful mess. Repair or sizing of a marcasite ring is difficult even with great heat control by a skilled jeweler.  You may pay more for stone replacement  than the service work itself. Yikes!


You might wonder why these shiny little stones are cemented in place.  Well, some are actually set with a little bead of metal (generally sterling silver) pushed over the edge of the stone. But, marcasites are so easily chipped that hand setting each stone generally results in almost as many stones broken as set! Cement is the answer.  

If you have lost stones, try a crafts shop to purchase a bag of marcasites (not expensive) and get either a water clear epoxy like Hughes 330 or an ultraviolet curing watch crystal cement and uv light. ( I believe the “lazer” (sic) glue currently advertised on tv is this sort of cement.) Do not use super glue because it is messy, mistakes are tough to redo and over time the cement will fail.

Interesting fact: Marcasites are a form of iron pyrite, otherwise known as fools gold.   Can you see why?  That shiny gold color in a bunch of little gravel could make a miner think he'd struck it rich!

Joanne, if you need to ask more, do not hesitate to use a follow-up and get back with me.

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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