How to find a good repair jeweler?

Leaving your jewelry in the possession of a stranger can be stressful, so how do you find a jeweler that will put your mind at ease?

Reviews, Reviews, Reviews!

Since the first place we look these days is online, reviews are going to be very important. Obviously good reviews are going to draw us in, but make sure you take a look at the bad reviews too, and more importantly, how the jeweler reacts to them. If you can’t find any bad reviews at all, not even mild ones, I would call that a small red flag. A company with 100% happy customers is a unicorn. No matter what you do you can’t please everyone and unhappy people talk, or leave reviews in this case.

When you find the 3star or less reviews, see if there is a response from the jeweler/owner. The type of responses you’re looking for will be ones that want to resolve the customers issues, or that give calm explanations of why the issue came about in the first place. In some instances, people can have a hard time being told “No” or that their piece can't be fixed to a wearable state.

Who's going to repair your jewelry?

The next step will be to look at their website. The first thing you’ll be looking for is whether or not they have jewelers on-site. If they don’t it means that, not only will your piece not be inspected by a qualified jeweler but your repair will also be shipped out of the store for the work it needs.

Is it important to have your jewelry be inspected by a jeweler? Absolutely, yes! Having a qualified jeweler be the one to inspect your piece is extremely important as they will be far more likely to spot issues that an untrained eye wouldn’t. Any issues missed by a non-jeweler will most likely stay missed by whoever ends up doing the repair as their job is to do what is stated in the order and move on to their next repair as fast as possible. It’s not their reputation on the line if a missed issue results in damage to, or even destruction of, your jewelry.

Do they have the tools for the job?

Once you’ve found a place with a jeweler on-site, try to find out if they use a bench microscope. A lot of the time this will be stated on the store site. If not a visit to the store would be worthwhile. If they do have bench microscopes, your jewelry should be inspected using one and the jeweler should be using the microscope during repairs. Again the reason for this is to make sure that issues get caught before repairs begin and to make sure that repairs are being done to the highest detail possible. I, personally, think that having a bench microscope is so important that I would find it preferable to have a jeweler take my item back to their bench to inspect it under their microscope, rather than to just have them inspect it in front of me with a jewelers loupe. An inspection should only take a few minutes, unless the jewelry needs to be cleaned first, as dirt* can obscure issues. The inspection should also happen pretty much right after you explain why you need your piece repaired.

*As a little aside; please clean your jewelry before bringing it in, even if just a tiny bit. An old toothbrush and some warm soapy water in a bowl will do the trick. I have worked with some pieces that truly tested my very strong stomach. I have pulled dead bugs out of the backs of peoples rings before….

If the jeweler doesn’t make any attempt to inspect your piece under any kind of magnification that is a big red flag, and I would thank them for their time and leave.

Transparency and Honesty

Once you’ve found a jeweler that ticks all the boxes above, it’s time to listen to their assessment and find out their quote*.

*Fair warning here: repairs are almost always more expensive than you expect them to be.

When running through the costs of the repair, an itemized list of materials, labor, applicable taxes etc., is a must! This allows for transparency and honesty. Often times, if the store has a computer at the intake desk, they will be able to show you all the variations of the materials needed for the repair before giving their recommendation and letting you decide. If you’re happy with the quote, the job ticket will be written up. Sometimes this is when the transaction will be handed off to a sales associate, but often the jeweler will do the write up.

Pictures of your piece should be taken by the store employee at this time and attached to the job ticket. If they don’t take pictures, request that they do or take your own. Rings and earrings should be photographed from above and the side and necklaces and bracelets should have at least a picture of the front.

Heads-up and Customer Service

When I worked as a repair jeweler, I always made sure to not only let the customer know the details about their current issue, but also about things that could, or would, become an issue down the line. Usually I'd give them an approximate timeline and tell them what warning signs to look out for.

Our store offered free “clean and checks” to everyone and I always advised the customer to make use of these as they were great, free, “health checks” for their jewelry. Make sure to ask your jeweler if they would be open to offering such a service. Not only is this a good way for them to build a rapport with you but you'll also have piece of mind and get your jewelry back good-as-sparkly-new!

I hope this information has been helpful. Let me know what you thought in the comments.

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