Remodelling old jewellery

Overview - Each year I am happy to undertake a certain limited number of re-modelling jobs – demand for this work is very high, so unfortunately there will often be a significant time delay in completion. In 2019 I was somewhat overwhelmed with this work so in 2020 we are changing the way in which we deal with these projects. In essence I will have no more than FIVE of these projects 'active' at anyone time (ie projects that are undergoing design/re-modelling work and which have been given an estimated completion date). In addition I will have a WAITING LIST of customers who have expressed an interest in this work - as each one of the five on-going projects is completed the first person on the list joins the active projects group and so on. These changes will allow me to more efficiently regulate the flow of this work, while maintaining the high standard of craftsmanship that my customers have come to appreciate. As those of you who follow my Facebook page will have seen, results from re-modelling projects can be spectacular, with tired old jewels that have lain unworn for years being transformed into ravishing contemporary pieces which demand to be seen.

Cost – this is something of a moveable feast, but a relatively ‘straightforward’ re-model that does not require the addition of extra stones or metal (but which may involve the melting/re-casting of metal from 1-3  rings/other pieces and the removal of 1-10 stones) starts from around $690-700.  If extra metal (particularly gold) or stones are requested then the price will rise – if the design is particularly complex (or if the project involves using metal from more than 3 pieces and the removal of more than 10 stones) this will also be reflected in additional costs. I may request a deposit (which is typically 50% of the agreed price), particularly if I have to buy in extra metal or stones. The final balance is due on completion of the piece (see below).


The process

a)    Initially I ask for as good a description as you can provide of the ‘old’ pieces that you have (photos are very useful).  I also need some indication of the new design you would like me to make – for example photographs of any of my pieces that you may have admired help greatly. Some people even put pencil to paper and come up with drawings of what they like and these are always very welcome (feel free to unleash your inner artist!!). All this information (which can be passed on via Facebook or e-mail) will give me a good idea of how viable the new project is. If the new piece to be made is a ring I will need an accurate sizing of the finger on which the ring is to be worn. This can be done at a local jewellery shop, or alternatively I can send you a ring sizer – I am afraid I do have to charge for re-sizing if I have been given incorrect information on this. At this point I can then often provide a provisional quote for a design.

b)    If you are happy to proceed I then ask you to courier your pieces to my workshop in Nelson (PLEASE NOTE - sending of pieces to us is at the owners own risk and we are not financially liable for any loss or damage of pieces whilst they are in transit via courier to us). Once we have them Andy (my husband) will weigh the pieces, check for hallmarks and also test the stones to confirm their identity (as much as is possible), and then provide a written report. From this I can make a second assessment as to how much metal is available and produce a modified quote if necessary.

c)    By this stage we should have a viable design to work from, so the next steps are to unset gemstones from the existing pieces, cut out solder and settings which cannot be used, and then pool the available metal for melting and re-casting (it is at this stage that extra metal may be added). Providing a successful ingot is cast, the metal can then be rolled and annealed and made ready for the new piece.

d)    Ideally your old stones can be re-used, but this is entirely at the clients own risk - for example we sometimes find that when stones are removed there are flaws (such as cracks and chips) which were hidden by their settings (particularly in older pieces). We also sometimes find that stones are heavily worn – it is possible to have stones re-polished or re-cut, but this is a specialist skill which we outsource to a trained craftsman (costs for this start from $130-150, and so it is generally viable only for higher value stones). At any rate I will endeavour to provide an assessment as to the quality/usefulness of unset gemstones at the earliest opportunity – at this point I may recommend the substitution/addition of new stones, but will always try and use as many components of your original pieces as I possibly can.

e)    Where multiple stones are being used in a new design I will typically then produce a mock up of the layout, and photograph this for your perusal, and any last modifications can be made. Once you are totally happy with the finalised design it is all up to me to work my magic! On completion I will then photograph your new piece, and if you are happy with my work, the balance is due and the completed jewel will be couriered to your address. Any unused material will also be re-turned to you – there may be small amounts of metal left over, and I can if requested offset scrap values for these against costs (see b) below).


Things I do not re-use/recycle:

a) Silver – unfortunately it is not economic to recycle silver as the time/effort/energy expended is greater than the retail price of this metal. This is certainly not the case with gold! However – there is an exception to this – see below…..

b) Gold chains – unless these are made with heavy links (which enable me to easily remove the solder joints) I do not generally recycle gold chains. I can obtain scrap values for fine gold chains or other pieces for customers (via the Auckland refiners) and this can be used to offset costs – but please be aware that the commercial scrap gold values offered by these companies are beyond my control. I do not buy old jewellery directly myself, nor do I buy old stones.

c) Platinum and other white metals (ie palladium) – unfortunately I do not have the facilities to melt and re-use these metals. They will of course have a scrap value (see b). I may be able to re-use white gold (but this depends on what the gold is alloyed with).