Repairing jewelry for your customers is often a large part of a business that comes through your doors unexpectedly, and can be the right way of making some extra money alongside your jewelry designs. So it pays to know the ins and outs of jewelry chain repair.
From necessary repairs to soldering chain links, we’ve put together everything you need to know, through this jewelry chain repair guide so that you can make proper, professional chain repairs for your customers.
How to fix a broken necklace chain
There are many different types of chain out there, and some are much easier to fix than others. Learning the basic principles of a necklace chain repair will help you progress to some more complex jewelry chain repair techniques such as soldering excellent jewelry chain links together.
So, let’s start with the basic principles of how to repair the chain. This is only possible with chains such as cable chain or curb chain where the chain itself is made up of interlocking links. Other more complex patterns such as rope chain or ball chain may need more intricate work.
Identify the problem.
Where has the chain broken? Is it the clasp or a chain link? Most wear and tear on jewelry chains occurs at the point where the clasp joins the necklace. This is where the most stress is placed. If the spring on the clasp broke or the clasp itself has come loose, you may need to find a clasp that closely matches and reattach. If it’s the chain link that’s broken, read on!
Study the chain.
You’ll need to take a close look at the string you’re working on to see how each of the links was fixed together. If it’s a primary link through link attachment, you’re in luck!
Is there an open link remaining?
You can make the chain link repair directly. If not, you may need to buy or create a new link to replace the old one. Whenever there’s an open chain link remaining, loop it through the link at the other end of the necklace. Once securely in place, take your snipe nose pliers and close the chain link in the same way you would close a jump ring. Use a twisting motion to bring the two ends together. That way, you don’t lose the overall form of the chain link.
Need to replace the chain link?
No problem. Try to match up the chain link as best you can so that you can make your repair as above. If you’re struggling to find a match, you can make your new link with fine gauge wire.
Neatly close the chain link.
Whether you’ve made a new chain link or repaired the broken one, the most important thing to remember is to secure the link as tightly as you possibly can. Take your pliers and gently squeeze the chain link closed until the join is completely flush.
Our fundamental snake chain repair trick
Some chains seem impossible to repair! However, there are some basic tricks you can use to get around this. For example, snake chain appears unlikely to repair because of the way it’s constructed.
So instead of fixing the tiny chain links themselves, we’d recommend improving the end of the snake chain by adding a chain extender to it instead. That way you’ll maintain the rest of the chain and fix the problem area where it’s weakest – at the clasp.
Soldering snake chain can be tricky. However, it can be done! You’ll need a steady hand, patience, and much practice to get this right. You’ll need to solder your chain extender to each end of the snake chain to repair. Once you’ve mastered this, this next bit of advice on soldering chain links will be a breeze!
Soldering chain links: Tips and tricks
Soldering chain links can seem very fiddly at first, but once you’ve got to grips with these tips and tricks, your customers will come back to you again and again for jewelry chain repairs.
Don’t forget to stock up on soldering tools and supplies before you practice soldering chain links together.
Are you repairing an excellent chain with small links?
Use a black marker to make a mark on the chain links close to where the solder joint should be. This will help you solder as accurately as you possibly can.
Make sure the ends of each chain link are as flush as possible.
The better the join in each chain link, the better the solder will run and the stronger the solder joint will be. One trick you can use to make sure you have a straight, flush join, is to bring all of your damaged jewelry chain links together.
Line them all up with the joins of each one facing the same way and clamp them tightly in a pair of parallel pliers. Once in place, run your jeweler’s saw down the line of chain links and start sewing along the joins. Once you’ve accurately sawn through each chain link, you should have a straight, flush join ready for soldering.
Now for the soldering part!
When working on such a small scale, it’s not surprising that the power of your torch can blow your solder out of place. Not to mention, it can leave your solder balled up messily on your chain link, making your chain link repair look messy. The best way of getting an accurate solder to join on your chain links without soldering them together is by using a soldering probe.
Paint a small amount of flux onto the join of your chain link. Then take a small amount of solder and place it onto the end of your soldering probe. Heat this with your torch until the solder flows onto the end of the soldering probe. Now gently touch the solder-covered probe to the join of the chain link and apply heat to the soldering probe, not directly at the join.
That way the heat will travel down the soldering examination enough to re-melt the solder, helping it flow through the join. Once the solder flows, remove the pick from the chain and quench, pickle and rinse your work.
Now you’ve learned the basics of jewelry chain repair you can add this to your jewelry making repertoire, and even make it a permanent service for your existing customers.
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