We explain why jewelry repair takes as long as it does
A lot of customers visit our jewelry stores in New Jersey with a piece of jewelry they need fixed. Regardless of the type of jewelry or the complexity of the repair, most people need their broken jewelry repaired ASAP. The issue is, when it comes to jewelry repair, everyone wants their items back as soon as possible, but they aren’t aware of some of the factors that the repair process entails.
We fully understand the apprehension and confusion anyone has when it comes to how long jewelry repair takes. Many people think they have a simple repair when they take their treasured piece to a reputable store, only to be told, much to their dismay, that they’ll see their jewelry in a week.
Fortunately, when explained, it’s easier to understand why repairs take as long as they do. Unlike other jewelry stores that aren’t forthcoming with information and the processes relating to how long jewelry repair takes, we educate our customers on the various factors that can lengthen the time it takes to repair their jewelry.
How long does jewelry repair take?
In general, a jewelry store that has its own full-service repair department will have a set amount of time that it will take for your jewelry to be repaired and returned to you—much like taking a shirt to the dry cleaners.
What needs to be repaired on your jewelry will determine how long your repair may take. Some repairs can take as little as 10 minutes and others may take more than 3 hours. Unfortunately, just because your repair may only take 10 minutes doesn’t mean you will get your jewelry back in 10 minutes.
When you bring in your jewelry for repair at a full-service jewelry store, the average wait time to pick up your jewelry would be 7–10 days (that’s an industry standard), depending on how busy or popular the store is. That time allotment is programmed into the computer system and is generic across the board—meaning that if you drop your “simple solder” off at the same time your friend drops off her “complicated fix,” you will most likely both be picking your jewelry up on the same day.
This is an example of engagement ring repair. The ring needs a new head because the prongs were worn down and broken. A new head was purchased and soldered on, and the stones reattached.
Why does jewelry repair take so long?
You’re probably wondering, “If it takes 10 minutes to repair my jewelry, then why am I waiting 10 days to pick it up?” The simple reason is there are many behind-the-scenes variables that can affect the amount of time it takes to repair your jewelry.
Since there’s such a wide variety in jewelry, every repair will be vastly different. Each piece of jewelry is given its own attention and repaired one piece at a time by hand. Although some machinery can help the jewelry technician complete his job faster, the most efficient way to repair jewelry is still the old-fashioned way: by a trained expert, by hand, and one piece at a time to ensure that jewelry pieces and parts do not get mixed up from one repair to another.
That said, good jewelers are few and far between. The reality of our current day and age is that jewelry is a dying trade and good jewelers are hard to come by. Even if a jeweler is qualified on paper, he or she most likely doesn’t have the experience needed to do the caliber of repairs many “high-quality” jewelry stores demand for their customers.
The delay in turnaround is also compounded by the fact that an average-quality, reputable jewelry repair department in a jewelry store can take in hundreds of repairs a month. For example, here at Braunschweiger Jewelers, we usually take in around 700 repairs a month on average. That’s approximately 28 repairs to get done each day. Additional free services such as cleaning and polishing interrupt our jeweler’s projects and can add more time to each piece of jewelry, and these services aren’t usually factored into the repair time.
Aside from the time it takes to repair each piece of jewelry, other factors also weigh into jewelry repair that can affect the turnaround time for your special item, as well.
If your jewelry needs certain parts that a jeweler doesn’t have in stock, it may take longer depending on how easy it is to order the part. For example, repairing jewelry with certain cut stones may take longer because the jeweler has to find a new stone that matches. This is done to ensure that your jewelry looks original, and it prevents a new stone from looking like a replacement. Anytime a jeweler has to find something specific or match a stone, mounting, or missing earring, the repair will take longer.
With every rule there are exceptions. Most sales associates are in tune with the volume of repairs being taken in and are trained to have a basic knowledge of what needs to be done. They will take into consideration the complexity of the repair as well as personal schedules of the staff members who conduct the repairs. If possible, a sales associate will shorten that wait time so that you can get your jewelry back as quickly as possible.
This ring had to be cleaned properly before being repaired. Jewelry may appear clean at eye level, but upon a closer inspection it’s clear to see the difference cleaning done by professionals can have on a piece of jewelry.
Can my jewelry be repaired any faster?
The short answer is maybe, but it depends.
It never hurts to ask the sales associate if you can wait for the repair. In some cases, if you happen to visit a store when it’s slow, or a jeweler is caught up on his or her work, it can be done. But be cautious about this—much like the “skip the line” pass at Disney, you may be charged a “convenience fee.”
Depending on the jewelry store and its policy, an expedited repair “convenience fee” can vary wildly. Factors such as the time of the year, if the jewelry was purchased at that store, and the volume of repairs all can influence the expedited “convenience fee.” From our experience, the fee can range anywhere from a flat static price, such as a $20 rush free, to a percentage of the total repair, which could range up to 50%. It all depends on where you’re taking your piece of jewelry to be repaired.
And don’t forget, you can’t rush quality. When a piece of jewelry is taken in for repair, the first thing it gets is a deep clean. Depending on how dirty your jewelry is, the piece may have to sit in the cleaner for a while, and this can delay the start of your repair.
The reason for the deep cleaning is to ensure that every part of your jewelry looks the same and the integrity of the design is not compromised. For example, cleaning ensures that when matching a stone, your jeweler will be able to find a perfect match. Or if he/she is soldering, the solder will hold and stand the test of time. Intricate jobs such as setting diamonds and gemstones need to be done with precision and patience. If the prongs are pushed over too fast, the gemstone can chip.
Does jewelry repair ever take longer than 10 days?
There are some repairs that even the most experienced jeweler cannot accomplish, causing the wait for jewelry repair to be significantly longer.
The reason is, many designers do not allow anyone but their own jewelers to repair their brand. Simply put, this is a quality control measure that designers take to ensure that their brand and level of quality is met. When you bring in an item from a designer that will only allow its jewelers to work on the piece of jewelry, it’s often more than double the price to repair and can be upwards of a 10- to 12-week turnaround.
When you come across a situation like this, you have two options. You can either send it to the designer for repair, or you can ask the jewelry store to repair the item.
Although a jewelry store is not supposed to work on certain designer pieces, jewelers know their limitations, and it often makes the most sense for them to repair your jewelry. To be clear, when we say limitations, we mean, for example, that if a designer piece requires a certain cut stone, a problematic ring sizing, or a piece specific to that item, the designer will not send jewelry stores the correct parts. The designer will most likely insist that the jewelry be sent to them for repairs instead.
Bear in mind that having the local jewelry store repair your jewelry would insure that you get your item back more quickly, and it would most likely cost less. However, getting the repair done in this manner could void any warranties that the product may hold. It is a personal decision that only you can make.
General jewelry repair time length
You might be wondering if there are any general time frames when it comes to repairs, and fortunately there are.
Charm bracelet and necklace chain repair
Charm bracelet repair is something that you could usually wait for since most fixes are relatively quick. This isn’t always the case, but many fixes for charm bracelets take around 10 minutes. For example, adding a new charm or re-soldering a charm can be done rather quickly.
Certain simple and thin necklace chains may be fixed quickly, as well. If you wanted a clasp change or needed soldering to fix a break in a necklace chain, that may also take around 10 minutes to accomplish.
These items could be repaired while you shop around and wait for your jewelry. You may not even need to pay a convenience fee either, despite the fact you’re getting such a quick turnaround time.
Gemstone and diamond ring repairs
A ring often has many different parts that may need service or repair. Tightening gemstones or diamonds on an engagement ring is a common service issue. Tightening the stone in an engagement ring can take 10 to 45 minutes or more depending on which prong is loose, as well as the shape and size of the stone. It could take even longer if the gemstone is bezel set or if the mounting needs more than just a push back into position.
The tightening of a diamond or any gemstone is very tedious and takes the steady hand of a trained jeweler to do this. The reason is, at this point in the repair process your gemstone or diamond is at the greatest risk to chip. Even though this looks as easy as “just pushing the prong back into place,” it is not easy or simple at all. This goes double for stones with points like a princess or marquise cut, as well as for larger stones.
Pearl jewelry repair
If a pearl earring breaks apart, it needs to be epoxied back together and set for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the stone is set and a jeweler would most likely feel comfortable to hand the jewelry back to the customer. This is another item that needs to be pristine before repairing. Any traces of old epoxy need to be scraped off, and the metal needs to be clean so that the glue will hold the jewelry together.
Another common pearl jewelry repair involves restringing a strand of pearls. The main factors that determine how long this takes are simply the length of the strand and the size of the pearls. Most jewelry stores charge by the inch to restring a strand of pearls because the length of the necklace or bracelet is what makes this process so time consuming. Also, each pearl is cleaned individually before it is restrung, which adds additional time to the process. A simple restringing of a 16” necklace with 6-, 7- or 8-mm same-size pearls and a simple pearl clasp could take about an hour to an hour and a half to restring. If the necklace has smaller pearls or the pearls are graduated, the repair could take much longer.
Advice on jewelry repair
My advice? Be honest with your sales associate. Let him or her know if this is a piece of jewelry you wear every day and never take off, or if you don’t need it until you come back from that month-long safari you are taking in Africa. Letting the sales associate know up front if this is a treasured piece you can’t live without might help move your jewelry through the jeweler’s system slightly faster.
If you have questions, ask. Ask your jeweler why it takes so long if you feel like it should be done faster. Your sales associate may have a simple answer like, “We are backed up on repairs right now,” or the associate will be able to walk you through what needs to be done. Remember that busy, reputable jewelry stores likely have a fair number of repairs waiting to be completed. You may have a long line of repairs ahead of you.
Regardless, you are dropping off something you love and cherish and would like to have taken care of professionally and quickly. Whether it’s a unique piece of jewelry, something that holds sentimental value, or an heirloom piece, handing over your jewelry for repair can be scary. When in doubt, ask all the questions you want so that you understand the repair process and make yourself feel comfortable.
To learn more about how we repair jewelry, feel free to visit either of our New Jersey jewelry store locations in Morristown or New Providence to see for yourself and talk to any of our expert jewelers.
If you’d like to talk to someone directly about repairs, you can contact us online anytime by emailing us at email@example.com, or simply fill out our contact form. We’ll answer your questions quickly.