Antique bracelet from the 1870s, a restoration tale.

A client brought to us a Victorian bracelet in dire condition. The bracelet was a belt and buckle hinged bracelet dating from the 1870s.

The original owner of an Antique bracelet wearing it in the 1870s

This bracelet had been handed down in the family and had quite a history. It had been passed down to the granddaughter of  the original owner, who in turn wished to pass it on in turn  to her own granddaughter on or around her 21st birthday. Sadly, she became gravely ill when the girl was still a young child.

She knew that she would never live to see her granddaughter come of age, so she made a resolution and carefully wrote a letter to the child to be opened in the future, long after she was gone.  This was a difficult, heartfelt letter of love and advice to a young woman from her Grandmother.

She then gathered the bracelet along with the hand written letter and an antique photograph of her own grandmother as a young woman  (the photograph is a formal portrait taken in the 1870s, in the photograph she is wearing the bracelet) . She entrusted them to her the girl’s other grandmother with the firm hope that they would be delivered someday.

The buckle and belt has always been a popular motif in jewelry, many rings and bracelets took on those shapes in the 19th century.  It was used as a love token expressing eternal loving strength and a permanent bond of affection. When it is used as a memento mori. In Victorian mourning jewelry, it represents the strength of an unbreakable circle of loyalty,  enduring memory and love.

You can see how this is the perfect token. Any gift or family heirloom would be appreciated, but this was a legacy of her very own family from an age where jewelery served as a powerful talisman.

an Antique bracelet from the the 1870s before restoration at Crane Jewelers in seattle WA. all rights under copyright are reserved.

an antique bracelet from the the 1870s before restoration at Crane Jewelers in Seattle

 

The trustee took her charge seriously and saw the importance of restoring the bracelet before passing it on and brought it to me to see what could be done.

Unfortunately, the bracelet was in terrible condition when I first saw it. It had been badly damaged and poorly repaired. It was missing parts and the clasp did not function.

In its damaged condition it was certainly an interesting artifact, but it lacked the power of a complete living piece of jewelry.

Fortunately, we had the antique photograph of it in its original condition to use as a guide in a difficult restoration.

We rebuilt the buckle section in rose gold matched the long safety chain and repaired the clasp to make it functional.

 

 

We rebuilt the buckle section in rose gold matched the long safety chain and repaired the clasp to make it functional.

 

 

 

The original bracelet’s finish was restored and the bracelet looked surprisingly contemporary.

 

 

The finished piece was beautiful!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And yes… She LOVES the bracelet!

 

 

Victorian Rose and Green gold.

 

The power of human lives endures in jewelry. I feel that if you do not understand this you are missing an important connection with the jewelry and you cannot restore it. When I was young, I was fortunate enough to have apprenticed with a master goldsmith from Spain. She was a wonderful woman named Pilar Romallio.   She was beautiful, elegant and amazingly talented. She told me that “we must put love into everything we do, every single piece of jewelry whether we are making money on it or not”.

I have taken this to heart and apply it to everything I do… I hope it shows.

The power of human lives endures in jewelry.  If you do not understand this you cannot restore it. When I was young, I apprenticed with a master goldsmith from Spain. She was a wonderful woman named Pilar Romallio.   She told me that “we must put love into everything we do, every single piece of jewelry whether we are making money on it or not”.  I took this to heart and try to apply it in everything I do.

Restoration by Kevin Crane in Seattle, WA     An expert in period design, with over thirty seven years of experience in goldsmithing, platinumsmithing and stone setting,  Kevin Crane, Design Director and owner of Crane Jewelers, specializes in custom design and period restoration.  Trained in Europe with Masters from Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe,  Kevin Crane has  a loyal international following of clients, Crane’s work has been exhibited in North America, Japan, Italy and Germany, and is represented in collections internationally.  His work has been published in Marthe Le Van’s 500 Brooches (Lark Books). Location:              Visit Crane Jewelers,Ltd.Located at 519 Pine Street just across from Nordstrom in downtown Seattle.WA 98101 USA

Hours:                   Tuesday – Saturday        10 am – 5 pm

E-mail:                                 hello@cranejewelers.com

Telephone          206.624.1531 PST

 

CRANE JEWELERS-THE ART OF ELEGANCE


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Legend of the Raven

Raven and Crow Jewelry

“Legend of the Raven” is made of 18 Karat yellow gold and sterling silver. It is set with diamonds and hand carved sardonyx .The raven is removable from the pedestal and can be worn as a broach.

Legend says that the kingdom of Great Britain, the Tower of London and the British Monarchy will all fall if the resident ravens ever leave the fortress. Wild ravens have inhabited the Tower of London for many centuries, according to folklore they were first attracted there by the corpses of the executed enemies of the Crown.

However; The Druids and ancient Britons had a Raven god called Bran and thought of the ravens as avatars of Bran. White Hill (where the Tower now stands) was considered a sacred spot by the Druids.

An early story that connects the Tower of London with a raven is the tale of the mutually destructive battle between the Irish king Matholwch and Bendigeidfran (King of the Britons). Matholwch had allegedly mistreated Bendigeidfran’s sister, the princess Branwen.  The victorious Bendigeidfran ordered his followers to cut off Matholwch’s head and bury it beneath the White Hill facing out towards France as a talisman to protect England from foreign invasion( Ravens have been there ever since).

However; this talisman did not stop the French from invading England and in 1066 the Normans began their conquest and somewhat ironically, built fortifications on the very spot.  The fortress was expanded by subsequent generations of English monarchs. In time the Tower became the storerooms of the English Crown Jewels and a notorious prison for enemies of the Crown.

At the execution of Anne Boleyn in 1535, “Even the ravens of the Tower sat silent and immovable on the battlements and gazed eerily at the strange scene. A Queen about to die.”(sic)

It was King Charles II who first insisted that the ravens of the Tower should be protected and ordered that six birds be kept at the Tower. In World War II, during the Blitz, ravens were being used as unofficial spotters for enemy bombs and planes , only one raven was able to survive the hardships of the bombing, so the Prime Minister, Sir Winston Churchill, ordered more ravens to be brought in, “in order to bring the flock up to the correct size.”

The Tower ravens are enlisted as soldiers of the Kingdom, and were issued attestation cards in the same manner as British soldiers and police. As is the case of soldiers, the ravens can, and have been, dismissed for unsatisfactory conduct.

“Legend of the Raven” is made of 18 Karat yellow gold and sterling silver. It is set with diamonds and hand carved sardonyx .The raven is removable from the pedestal and can be worn as a broach.

 

Kevin Glenn Crane

 

An expert in period design, with over thirty years of experience in goldsmithing, platinumsmithing and stone setting,  Kevin Crane, Design Director and owner of Crane Jewelers, specializes in custom design and period restoration.  Trained by  Masters from Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe,  Kevin Crane has  a loyal international following of clients, Crane’s work has been exhibited in North America, Japan, Italy and Germany, and is represented in collections internationally.  His work has been published in Marthe Le Van’s 500 Brooches (Lark Books).

 

Crane Jewelry Gallery at 519 Pine Street in downtown Seattle, was designed by award winning architects Jim Olson and Tom Kundig in 1987.  Visiting the gallery is often reminisced upon as the experience of a private museum showing objects d’art from the farthest reaches of the world.

 

Location:              Visit Crane Jewelry Gallery of custom design and antique fine jewelry pieces.

Located at 519 Pine Street just across from Nordstrom in downtown Seattle.

Hours:                   Tuesday – Saturday        10 am – 5 pm

E-mail:                                  kc@cranejewelers.com

Telephone          206.624.1531

 

Custom Designed Etruscan or Helenistic bracelet in 22 Karat yellow gold

Etruscan or Helenistic coral bracelet in 22 Karat yellow gold designed by Kevin Glenn Crane at Crane Jewelers, ltd.

We had the opportunity to custom design a bracelet around collection of old  intense red Mediterranean coral.

The coral came from a matched pair of bracelets that had been gifts to the family many years ago. our clients desired to reset all of the coral into a single new bracelet.

The Clients concept was to  design the piece to look like an Etruscan or Hellenistic artifact.

We chose 22 Karat gold for the metal for our modern Etruscan revival bracelet because  it would have been made in of high karat gold if it had been made in ancient times and the combination of the color of the gold is very beautiful in combination with the coral.

We carved the bracelet model in wax to make a lost wax casting.

Tuscan Bracelet in process of lost wax carving

Tuscan Bracelet in process of lost wax carving

The stones were each re-polished to a high luster, measured and numbered . Each stone was unique in size and shape and so each stone was fitted to its own wax bezel setting, one at a time. The wax bezels were  attached  to the bracelet equally spaced. Gateways (sprues) were attached onto the wax model  it was then fitted inside of a flask and covered in a refractory investment, heated in an oven to burn away the wax leaving a void in the flask the shape of the bracelet. Gold was melted in a crucible and poured into the flask.

The flask was destroyed and the casting revealed.

22 karat gold custom designed Etruscan bracelet after casting

This shows the piece in 22 karat gold after casing , the sprues have been removed.

the Etruscan bracelet

The bezels marked with Roman numerals inside

The inside of each gold bezel was marked with a Roman numeral corresponding with one of the corals.

 

22 karat gold custom designed Etruscan bracelet after casting

22 karat gold custom designed Etruscan bracelet after casting

The sprues had some shrinkage porosity. thse created a small void in the center of the place were the gold had flowed into the flask.

 

 

22 karat gold custom designed Etruscan bracelet after casting

22 karat gold custom designed Etruscan bracelet after casting with shrinkage porosity . There is a small void in the center wher the cooling gold shrank after the casting was made.

 

 

The next step was to file the entire surface of the bracelet and repair any casting flaws. The entire bracelet is carved and filed at this point and pre-polished in preparation for stone setting.

22 karat gold custom designed Etruscan bracelet after casting

The gold was filed down on interior of Etruscan bracelet and you can see that the void is very small.

I drilled the spots where te void were and made small round balls of 22 karat gold that each fit perfectly into the voids.

 filed on interior.

a small bead of 22 k gold fitted into the void

the balls were welded into the surface of the interior, heated  in each spot to 1,930 degrees F to melt the balls into the surface.

a small bead of 22 k gold fitted into the void was welded in

The Bracelet welded.

The beads were burnished and filed down. The entire bracelet was very carefully prepaired for setting. there are no traces of the repairs.

Setting the stones in the etruscan bracelet.

I set the stones one at a time, in order and acording to the roman numerals engraved inside of each of the bezels.

Setting the stones in the Etruscan bracelet.

In the background you can see the stones in bags marked with the Roman numerals that correspond to the bezels on the bracelet. To the left and in front of them of them is a bar of 22 Karat yellow gold . The beads that filled the voids were made from that bar. Great care was taken to ensure that the surface on the outside of the bracelet was not touched during the stone setting process, the 22 Karat gold is very soft and any slip of a tool would result in damage that would take hours to repair.

the Etruscan bracelet bracelet finished.

the Etruscan bracelet bracelet finished.

Finished!   The interior and beaded edges are highly polisked but the outside surface we left with the natural cast surface. The bracelet is very, Very heavy! but extreamly comfotrable because of the convex shape of the inside of the bracelet.

Restoration of an 18th Century Sterling Silver Ladle

Punch was extremely popular in England in The 18th century.

The word punch comes to us from from Hindi panch (meaning five) and the drink was originally made with five ingredients: alcohol, sugar, lemon, water, and tea or spices.The drink was brought to England from India by sailors and employees of the British East India Company in the early seventeenth century. From there it was introduced into other European countries.

Punch was extremely popular in the 18th Century

Fig l. A group of Gentlemen quietly enjoying the companionship of friends around the “Festive Bowl” of Punch.

Punch was in consumed in large quantity from  individual cups  served  communally from a large bowl and dished out with a long handled ladle as seen in the illustration by the English artist Hogarth. [Read more...]

The Restoration of an Edwardian Lavaliere

A lavalier is the type of pendant popularized in the late 17th century by the Dutchess de la Valliere, a mistress of King Louis the XIV of France. The name was eventually shortened to “lavalier(e)”. The lavalier is distinguished from other types of pendants by a center drop  (usually a stone) which is directly attached to the chain  without a bail or removable connection device. [Read more...]

Antique Jewelery Restoration ~ A Platinum Necklace

 

We are often called upon to repair the mistakes and damage done by Jewelers and past owners of antiques the pendant is what we refer to as a marriage. Two pieces from different styles, age and materials have been badly combined to create one piece that is unwearable.

 

 

We are often called upon to repair the mistakes and damage done by Jewelers and past owners of antiques the pendant is what we refer to as a marriage. Two pieces from different styles, age and materials have been badly combined to create one piece that is unwearable.

An antique necklace for Restoration White gold and platinum pendant set with pearls, sapphires and diamonds, Crane Jewelers Ltd.

The chain and bow are 14 Karat gold, the bottom section is platinum and set with pearls, sapphires and diamonds.

This is a bad marriage, these two must to be separated and live their own lives. It is our goal to make these pieces be as true to their original style. Each an antique in excellent condition with no trace of repair.

For this project we chose Conservation and Historical restoration.

Conservation is a careful preservation and protection of an object and is the approach most often favored by museums for collections that are not intended to be worn.  The work is stabilized and then stored or displayed to minimize future deterioration.  Any restoration is minimal to avoid clouding the view of the original work, which would damage its historical significance.

Historical restoration involves using authentic period details, materials, tools and techniques.  It often involves extensive research.  Historic restoration also involves many aspects of conservation.  The goal is to preserve all the work that is good, repair or restore what is missing or broken so it blends seamlessly with the original and re-create the appropriate patinas and surfaces so the new work is difficult or impossible to detect.

Completed Restoration on an antique white gold pendant set with pearls, sapphires and diamonds restoration by Crane Jewelers Ltd. 519 Pine Street Seattle WA 09101

Completed Restoration on an antique white gold pendant set with pearls, sapphires and diamonds restoration by Crane Jewelers Ltd.

The Edwardian pendant has been removed from the white gold bow and a white gold bezel has been installed on the spot where the platinum Edwardian pendant was attached. An old European cut diamond set. The necklace has been completely restored and the separation of the complicated bad marriage completed.

 

Completed Restoration on an antique platinum pendant set with pearls, sapphires and diamonds restoration by Crane Jewelers Ltd.

The platinum Edwardian pendant has been completely restored, an appropriate platinum cable chain was found and a matched pair of old European cut diamonds have been set into very fine platinum bezels and spaced as they would have originally been in the Edwardian period, to float in the chain.

Kevin Crane has been restoring antique jewelry since 1979. He was published in Jewelers Circular Keystone magazine as an authority on the subject.

For more information read an article Restoring Antique Jewelry by Kevin glenn Crane

An expert in period design, with over thirty years of experience in goldsmithing, platinumsmithing and stone setting,  Kevin Crane, Design Director and owner of Crane Jewelers, specializes in custom design and period restoration.  Trained in Europe with Masters from Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe,  Kevin Crane has  a loyal international following of clients, Crane’s work has been exhibited in North America, Japan, Italy and Germany, and is represented in collections internationally.  His work has been published in Marthe Le Van’s 500 Brooches (Lark Books).

 

Crane Jewelry Gallery at 519 Pine Street in downtown Seattle, was designed by award winning architects Jim Olson and Tom Kundig in 1987.  Visiting the gallery is often reminisced upon as the experience of a private museum showing objects d’art from the farthest reaches of the world.

 

Location:              Visit Crane Jewelry Gallery of custom design and antique fine jewelry pieces.

Located at 519 Pine Street just across from Nordstrom in downtown Seattle.

Hours:                   Tuesday – Saturday        10 am – 5 pm

E-mail:                                  kc@cranejewelers.com

Telephone          206.624.1531 PST

 

CRANE JEWELERS-THE ART OF ELEGANCE

 

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For more information contact Kevin Glenn Crane,     Telephone  206.624.1531  Pacific Standard Time

Crane Jewelry Gallery, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON  USA

RESTORING ANTIQUE JEWELERY

 

When fine old jewelry needs restoration, your goal should be to preserve all the work that is good and repair or restore what is missing or broken so it blends seamlessly with the original.

Jewelry is worn and exposed to such extreme physical stress and abuse that it’s amazing any ancient pieces still exist.

If not destroyed by the wear and tear of day-to-day use and the ravages of time and the elements, jewelry can fall victim to the shifting whims of fashion.

But when you do acquire a fine old piece that needs restoration, weigh the merits carefully.  The piece has lasted this long; the choices you make will determine how it fares in the future.

Determine your goal for the piece and deliberate which course of action you will take to meet that goal.  Each piece presents a series of questions.  To find the answers, you need to understand a few things first.  Here’s a guide.

The definitions: How does restoration differ from repair, renovation and rehabilitation?  What is conservation and how does it apply?  How do you go about getting the work done, and how can it be done better?

Conservation is a careful preservation and protection of an object and is the approach most often favored by museums for collections that are not intended to be worn.  The work is stabilized and then stored or displayed to minimize future deterioration.  Any restoration is minimal to avoid clouding the view of the original work, which would damage its historical significance.

Historical restoration involves using authentic period details, materials, tools and techniques.  It often involves extensive research.  Historic restoration also involves many aspects of conservation.  The goal is to preserve all the work that is good, repair or restore what is missing or broken so it blends seamlessly with the original and re-create the appropriate patinas and surfaces so the new work is difficult to detect.

To repair is to restore by replacing a missing part or putting together what is torn or broken.  Repair places more emphasis on mending than on returning to an original form.  Repair is carried out in the most direct manner, often with no effort to match style or even hide the repair.

Renovation and rehabilitation involve making something new or restoring its vigor, to make it live again, and are terms  more commonly applied to architecture.  However, both terms can be relevant to jewelry when an old piece is changed in order to create a new one.  Examples: converting tiaras to necklaces or brooches, making stickpin heads into slides for slide bracelets and altering earrings from wire backs to screw backs or posts.  Renovations often result in a drastic – if not total – reduction in the value of antique jewelry to collectors.

Combination of approaches: Repair and renovation are the most common approaches in the jewelry industry, though any work on antique or old jewelry will likely involve a combination of approaches.

The merits of each approach depend on the ultimate use of the piece, its value, historical significance, age and current condition.

The first step in a restoration assessment is to determine what is at fault.  The extent and location of damage will dictate what must be done.  Careful examination will reveal the piece’s secrets.  How much was it worn?  Was it damaged and repaired before?  How well were the repairs done?  Has anything been added?  What is now broken?  What are the stones and are they original?  Are any of the stones damaged?

Actually, a lot of restoration involves the correction of poorly done repairs.

Examine the piece carefully, then, examine it again.  Look for stylistic differences between sections of the work.  Find any small cracks or stress points and seek out any sign of hidden damages.  It’s very easy to focus on an area in obvious need of repair and overlook something else that may be quite important.

To ultimately determine the fullest extent of damage, you may need the help of a restoration craftsperson or group of craftspeople (the discipline of more than one may be needed) to provide estimates.

Decision time: After pinpointing the problems, seek theories and encourage opinions.  Find out best- and worst-case scenarios in the pending restoration.  What are the risks, and what troubles may lie ahead?  How long will this take?  Will the results be good?

Decide whether it’s worth the risk.

We document fully the estimates and time factors in fullest detail and  make notes and sketches of what is to be done.  We maintain records on each piece.  Write detailed information on the envelope the piece is in, and make sure it’s legible to the craftsperson.  Many retailers use an envelope – designed for jewelry repair – that produces carbon copies.  Often, however, the carbon copy left on the envelope is unreadable.

Restoration always takes longer than you imagine; restorers are notoriously optimistic in their estimations of how long they will need to complete a project.  When you have restorations done for customers, give them a much later date than the restorer gave you.  In the meantime, keep in contact with both parties and update them as to the progress.

Before any work begins, conservators of antiques should plan to document work on exceptional pieces with before and after photographs.  These could prove useful in determining authenticity and provenance.  If an item is lost or damaged later, the photographs can be used to establish the historical baseline.

The dangers: Restoration is not for the weak of heart.  Most jewelry processes have inherent dangers.  The delicate nature of antique jewelry makes it even more susceptible to damage.

While today’s consumers relate weight with value in fine jewelry, lighter jewelry used to be favored  because it was more comfortable to wear and gave evidence of a maker’s virtuosity in creating a complex piece that was both visually and physically light.  To express themselves and display their prowess and technical skill, goldsmiths would create incredibly difficult designs.

These legacies of an era of good craftsmanship for its own sake are difficult and dangerous to repair.  A second’s lapse in concentration can destroy many days of work.  Remember that even the best restorers have reversals of fortune, though they can fix mistakes while their less-skilled colleagues are likely to return the piece in desperate condition.  This alone might make it worthwhile to engage the best person available.

Jewelry is constructed in an order that eases construction difficulties and places delicate materials at minimum risk.  Hair, emeralds, pearls and other delicate materials are all installed or set after all soldering has been completed.  This is not usually an option with restoration, so the dangers are greater than when manufacturing new jewelry.  Some esoteric materials found in antique jewelry have little intrinsic value, but are very difficult to replace.  And some gemstones are cut in ways that are no longer widely available and must be custom-cut at great expense.

Patinas and the signs of age that are found on antiques are one of the very reasons collectors seek them.  They reflect a connection to the past.  Patinas can be developed artificially to replicate those produced naturally through time, but they are never the same.  Any work done on an antique can destroy something of value that is of a highly subjective nature.  Age changes objects not only physically but also psychologically for owners, and it adds another level or risk to antique restoration.

Family heirlooms, jewelry with sentimental value and antique or old jewelry of unusual (and often dubious) provenance also have high risk factors.  Family heirlooms cannot be replaced.  Jewelry that supposedly once belonged to a famous person – Edwardian jewelry that purportedly belonged to Marie Antoinette, for example – is especially dangerous because the owners have unrealistic expectations.

Further risks: The dangers of restoring a piece of jewelry go beyond simple risk to the materials.  A restorer also must not damage or erase the characteristics that distinguish the period in which the jewelry was designed or the individual characteristics of the designer.

All jewelry is a product of the era into which it was born.  It’s connected to fashion, economics, politics and social consciousness.  For this reason, it’s important for a jewelry restorer to understand the zeitgeist – or general intellectual, moral and cultural climate – of the era in which it was created.

This understanding can bring the restorer into harmony with the period, but it’s more difficult to match the form and expression of a particular artist.  A variation in the depth and angle of a cut, the size of grooves and how the cutter was sharpened will change the finished effect of an engraved piece, for example.  This can be a daunting task because other examples of an artist’s work often aren’t available for comparison.

Many of today’s restorers make the mistake of applying a 21st century aesthetic to the redesign of elements missing from antique jewelry.  Examples include huge replacement prongs on Georgian period jewelry, fat shanks replacing narrow ones on Victorian rings and high polish on all surfaces – regardless of whether that was the original design.  This is why so many forgeries are easy to detect – most forgers don’t learn enough about the period to do an accurate representation.

Often, a piece fails and is weak structurally because the material is flawed, or because of an engineering error.  If merely soldered, the joints could break again.  The challenge is not only to repair the break but also to correct the original problem in a manner that’s in keeping with the original style and technique.

(Note: Advances in restoration technology were made in in the early 1990s when the Crafford Precision Products Co.  pioneered and patented the use of Laser Spot Welding Systems to repair precious metal fractures in extremely close proximity to heat sensitive materials, without the thermal damage associated with traditional soldering techniques. These advances have now become part of the industry standard and allow for a wide range of possibilities. Unfortunately, these new possibilities come with a new set of risks.)

Finding a restorer: As you may have guessed, it takes years to develop a level of expertise and sophistication in restoring jewelry.  Most goldsmiths don’t have the inclination to immerse themselves so thoroughly in the subject.

In addition, the field of antique jewelry restoration is so wide that it’s impossible to acquire proficiency in all areas.  While one craftsperson may be excellent at fine platinum wire work or engraving, he or she may know nothing of repoussé and chasing.

To find good craftspeople:

  • Seek the recommendations of those who are respected in the field of antique jewelry.
  • Strive to find a dependable all-around craftsperson (or shop) who have love and enthusiasm for antique jewelry.
  • Choose a craftsperson with good communication skills.  Long-distance relationships can be difficult, so communication is a key ingredient
  • Once you choose a craftsperson, work to establish good communications and a good working relationship.  And remember that the very qualities that make craftspeople good often make them difficult to deal with.

The jewelry industry relies heavily on trade shops to perform most jewelry repairs.  A trade shop comprises a group of craftspeople, each specializing in a different area and range of skills.  Many shops have at least on highly skilled craftsperson, and many more think they do.

Ideally, simple tasks are assigned to apprentices while those requiring more intricate work are handed over to more skilled employees.  Realistically, work tends to ebb and flow, so when specialists are over burdened, jewelry that requires their skill might be given to someone with less skill.  Because repair doesn’t generate as much money as manufacturing, it’s relegated to a lower level in terms of importance in the trade shop.

Trade shops also have been conditioned to take a quick fix or patchwork approach.  That’s because many people shop primarily for price and  sticker shock often occurs when a shop gives an estimate for extensive restoration of an antique.  The retailer responds with “can’t you just…?” and goes on to suggest an inferior alternative in order to get the job. The retailer must avoid this “can’t you just” approach for several reasons:

  • If the repairs are not done correctly, the piece may be at risk structurally.  Stones may be lost or the piece may fall apart again, exposing the restorer to everything from embarrassment in the industry to a lawsuit by the client.
  • Clients will be horribly disappointed look elsewhere the next time if they perceive poor-quality work. Inferior work is not a solid foundation for the building of relationships.
  • It is a wast of money.
  • It is unfair to the client to not offer and do the best work possible.

ANTIQUE DIVERSITY

The wondrous thing about antique jewelry is the great diversity of materials and techniques used to create it.  Here are some of the materials commonly found and how they may be treated:

  • Enamel.  This is a challenge to restore because modern enamels don’t match older ones.  The major differences arise in the coefficiencies of thermal expansion between enamel formulas and variations in firing temperatures.  In addition, some effects are created by firing different enamels over each other, and some cannot be refired without losing color or darkening.  It’s possible to analyze an enamel and through experimentation approximate the effects, but information gained through chemical analysis is useless because the material changes upon firing.  Epoxy resins can be used to create a faux-enamel finish, but they can look like plastic.
  • Gold or silver that appears to have a very high karat gold surface.  This jewelry may have been gilded with mercury, which is highly toxic and will effuse into the atmosphere when heated.  Ventilate when soldering.
  • Hair.  When used in jewelry, hair was coated with shellac, braided, woven and worked into shape, then soaked in alcohol to remove the shellac.  Hair is too fragile to repeat the process in a restoration.  It’s also irreplaceable in heirloom jewelry.
  • Lead.  The use of lead is a shoddy way to fix jewelry because it is weak and toxic to the worker and the wearer.  Even small amounts of lead will make gold brittle.  It’s also difficult and dangerous to remove from jewelry, requiring the use of powerful acids.
  • Micromosaics.  Tissue lost from micromosaics can be replaced with good results.  But they shouldn’t be subjected to heat or moisture and should not be un-mounted.
  • Painted miniatures.  These should be removed from their mountings if possible.  The paintings can be cleaned and restored, but this must be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
  • Pietra dura.  This can be repaired but must be removed from the mounting.  It’s sometimes difficult to match the original inlays, but results are often good.
  • Plastics.  Celluloid plastic was invented around the time of the Civil War and was used widely as a substitute for ivory and amber.  It’s sensitive to heat and chemicals.
  • Tortoise shell.  This comes from the now-endangered Hawksbill turtle and, according to Pliny the Elder’s Natural History, is the most costly organic material in the sea.  Non-Hawksbill turtle shell was popular in Egyptian jewelry from predynastic times onward.  Tortoise shell and horn become brittle and deteriorate with exposure to the elements.  They can be fused together, but this is rarely possible when attempting to restore a cracked finished piece.  Because trading in new shell is banned, old pieces from damaged work must be recycled or horn must be substituted.

What not to do: Here are some practices to avoid:

  • Lead solder is a short-term solution to a long term problem.  It isn’t as strong as gold and will ultimately break.  Its presence then may preclude a proper repair.
  • Don’t rely on glue because it will break down in time.  Create a bond using tension and use glue only as a back-up – if at all.
  • Don’t destroy good old work.
  • Don’t try to improve upon a piece stylistically; stick to original lines.

Why restore? There are advantages to undertaking restoration.  You can learn from and be influenced by artists who are no longer alive.  You also can expose yourself to a wide range of materials and techniques.

As a retailer or private dealer, you can use the knowledge you gain to increase the value of your stock, create new business and expand on existing business.

As a collector, restoration offers you the chance to fine-tune and maximize the pieces in your collections.  And restoration provides everyone with a chance to see pieces as they were originally intended to look and, thereby, come to appreciate them.

Make the gift unique, Custom designed jewels with meaning

 

“A gift is something of one’s self that is extended to another with the hope that it will embody the feelings of the giver.”

Make the gift unique with an inscription, a custom design or find an antique.

 

From time immemorial the resilient and enduring qualities of gold – its purity and beauty – have naturally symbolized untarnished true love.  The fiery colors of precious gems are a perfect metaphor for passion.

Betrothal, marriage and anniversaries are often marked by such gifts of jewelry.  This exchange is a long standing tradition and nearly everyone receives a gift of jewelry in their lifetime.

Aside from being central to these celebrations of love, jewelry plays a variety of roles.  It defines social status, it works as a talisman and amulet and embodies powerful magic.  Time invests these tokens with a deeper meaning and they come to represent the relationship itself.  As the relationship grows and changes over years these mementos connect recipients to celebrations.

Jewelry has captured the imagination of famous authors throughout history from William Shakespeare to Arthur Conan Doyle.  And what child hasn’t dreamed of pirate treasure?  And yet even with all of the fascination for jewelry, many encounter great difficulty selecting a gift.

Elephant brooch designed by Kevin Glenn Crane at Crane Jewelers Seattle.

Elephant brooch designed by Kevin Glenn Crane at Crane Jewelers Seattle.

Finding a gem

Part of the difficulty comes from the fact that jewelry represents a highly subjective and personal form of expression.  Because jewelry and clothing serve as an extension of image and status and reflect the wearer’s personality, the gift may not be as well received as the giver (or recipient) would hope.

Some encounter difficulty finding a piece of modern jewelry that has the qualities that make it a suitable metaphor for their love.  The diminished standards of modern jewelry leave many buyers discovering that much of what is currently available is unworthy.  Jewelry making went through a change during the Industrial Revolution when manufacturing was simplified and brought into line with the economies of scale.  Prior to this, jewelry making had been exclusively executed by hand.

These “advances” in technology – when coupled with mass marketing and distribution – expanded the availability of jewelry to its largest market ever.  Today, much of this mass production is carried out in developing nations.  The result is a product that is often compromised because it is produced with the least amount of labor and materials and the lowest level of skill.  Modern trade-shop workers are more prized for their speed than their craftsmanship. We still make our jewelry by hand in Seattle, Washington.

For some, antique jewelry represents a time when excellence in execution was the norm and a higher degree of workmanship was demanded.  The age, wear, patina and histories of these antique jewels make them attractive to connoisseurs.  They make wonderful and unique gifts that have a connection with a romantic era. We carry a wide and ever changing selection of  antique pieces.

One of a kind

A new or old piece of jewelry can take on a deeper meaning if you have it engraved.  You needn’t write a sonnet (you won’t have room for one anyway).  Just names, initials and dates or perhaps a simple inscription that reflects your feelings at this moment in time to be carried like a message in a bottle into the future.

Custom design can produce a handmade work that more closely embodies the unique qualities of the person who will wear the jewelry  The creative energy is even better if the person who will receive the jewelry is involved in the design process.  One couple  had their wedding bands sculpted in the form of an undulating river to represent its ever changing flow.  The rings included small, randomly set sapphires that mirror the war rocks are set in a river.  For them the river is representative of the flow of their lives together.  They were married in a ceremony that took place next to a particularly beautiful river.

Other examples of custom wedding bands include a couple who carved the name of their spouse in Hebrew, and another who chose a pattern based on the rings formed in a pond of water when raindrops hit the surface.  You needn’t be so literal or utilize a specific set of imagery.  Custom design works best when it is subtle, simple and elegant but somehow unique.  In our shop we have over ten thousand drawings of unique jewelry designs that we have created over the decades.

Engraved  Platinum Diamond Ring Crane Jewelers Ltd.

Engraved Platinum Diamond Ring made by hand at Crane Jewelers Ltd. in Seattle

Finding a jeweler

When looking for a jeweler, seek the recommendation of someone you know and trust.  Find examples of their jewelry and look at the work closely inside and out, front and back.  Try to determine if it has been finished with attention to detail.  Mass-produced pieces lack diversity and individuality.

If the quality, workmanship and design appeal to you, find out about the range of services they provide (i.e. can they do custom work?).  Short of a personal recommendation, look for well-established firms that have been in the business for generations or ones that are members of trade associations. Come and visit us in downtown Seattle and experience first hand the wonderful things in store.

When you give the gift of jewelry, seize the opportunity to make a great presentation.  Anything worth doing is worth doing well.  And anything involving romance is worth doing extremely well.  Use exotic wrapping paper and pour some champagne, create ambiance.  If you don’t have any ideas, draw inspiration from an old movie or confer with your jeweler.

When you need something special, I hope you will think of us.

Kevin Glenn Crane

18 Karat rose gold ring set with natural orange color diamonds.Crane jewelers Seattle

18 Karat rose gold ring set with natural orange color diamonds.Crane jewelers Seattle

CONNOISSEUR TRENDS, The Sapphire selection by Diana Key

 

 

CONNOISSEUR TRENDS,

The first in our new series will focus on Sapphire.

Sapphires have delighted connoisseurs for centuries with their spectrum of color and hues  ranging from velvety Kashmir Blue;  hues of “lotus blooms”  found in rare Padparadscha sapphires;   vibrant yellows  reminiscent of the sun and purples as rich as the lavender fields of Provence.

 

Fine Ceylon Sapphire set in platinum at Crane Jewelers

Fine Ceylon Sapphire set in a platinum ring at Crane Jewelers in Seattle, custom designed.

SAPPHIRE SELECTION:  ELEMENTS OF QUALITY

 

When evaluating sapphires, the most valuable colors, hues  and countries of origins are debated amongst gemologists and jewelers in different parts of the globe.  While the references of quality ascribed to diamonds:  color, clarity and cut, are broadly accepted across the world, there is no universally accepted grading system for colored gemstones.  Yet, few gemologists would dispute that pure, vivid colors are more desirable to muted, cloudy colors.  While market tastes will vary, the beauty of the gemstone must always rest deepest in the heart of its owner.

 

SHAPE AND CUTTING STYLES

 

The function of cut is to enhance the gem’s natural beauty to the greatest extent possible.  Sapphires provide a highly desired opportunity for collectors to select from a broader sample of cuts and shapes.  While shape is often one of the last considerations when selecting  quality rubies, quality sapphires samples are more abundant.  Although apiarists often elect to cut sapphires as ovals to allow maximum carat weight retention,  it is not uncommon to located sapphires exquisitely cut as rounds, cushions and pears in sizes over 3 carats.

 

 Hand made in platinum set with sapphire and diamonds ,Crane Jewelers Seattle

Hand made in platinum set with sapphire and diamonds ,Crane Jewelers, Ltd. Seattle

SAPPHIRES HAVE DELIGHTED CONNOISSEURS FOR CENTURIES WITH THEIR UNPARALLELED SPECTRUM OF COLORS AND HUES

 

Sapphire, also known as corundum, share the same mineral classification as rubies.  Sapphires  delight collectors with their broad spectrum of colors encompassing blue, pink, purple, yellow, orange and green.   From the opulence of velvety Kashmir Blue; to the rarity of  “lotus bloom”  Padparadscha sapphire, collectors and designers find inspiration through the natural and diverse beauty of sapphires’ understated elegance.

 

 

 

 

HOW TO EXAMINE COLOR

 

As with any color gemstone, the hue of color seen can be influenced by the light source used to illuminate it.  To ensure you select a gemstone that will look beautiful whenever you wear it, take time to examine the hue and saturation of the color against your skin and in different lighting.

 

•             Clean the stone with a cloth as fingerprints may conceal brilliance and color.

•             If possible, look at the gemstone face up against a variety of backgrounds.

•             Take time to examine the stone under direct light, as well as away from light.  Make certain the gem’s color saturation

is still pleasing to you out of direct light.

 

HOW TO EVALUATE CLARITY

 

Clarity is most traditionally understood as a reference to the inclusions within a gemstone.

 

•            Magnification will assist in evaluating the location, number and size of inclusions and if they may affect durability.

•             Clean the stone with a cloth as fingerprints may conceal some inclusions

•             If possible, look at the gemstone face up against under direct light, as well as away from light.

 

Unhealed cracks or occlusions, or a crack near the culet or a corner of a gemstone, will not only be unpleasing esthetically, they can reduce a gemstone’s resistance to damage.  Collectors should also remain aware of how these artifacts may reduce its value.

 

THE INHERENT DURABILITY OF SAPPHIRES

 

CONNOISSEUR TRENDS Sapphire Ring at Crane Jewelers in Seattle washington

A Sapphire Ring at Crane Jewelers, Ltd. in Seattle Washington

Sapphires are Grade 9 on the Moh’s scale of hardness, making them ideal for daily wear.  Only diamonds have a higher hardness grade, at 10.   The Moh’s (Mohs) scale of hardness is the most common method used to rank gemstones and minerals according to hardness.  Devised by German mineralogist Friedrich Moh in 1812, this scale grades minerals on a scale from 1 (very soft) to 10 (very hard).

 

RARE GEMSTONE SEARCHES

 

Kevin Glenn Crane is the owner and design director of Crane Jewelry Gallery.   An expert in period design, with over thirty years of experience in goldsmithing, platinumsmithing and stone setting,  Kevin Crane is available to assist with even the most exotic and rare gemstone searches.  Trained in Europe with masters from Germany, Spain and Eastern Europe,  Kevin Crane has  a loyal international following of clients and specializes in custom design and period restoration.  Crane’s work has been exhibited in North America, Japan, Italy and Germany, and is represented in collections internationally.  His work has been published in Marthe Le Van’s 500 Brooches (Lark Books).

 

 Crane Jewelers Seattle Washington

Crane Jewelers Seattle Washington

Crane Jewelry Gallery at 519 Pine Street in downtown Seattle, was designed by award winning architects Jim Olson and Tom Kundig in 1987.  Visiting the gallery is often reminisced upon as the experience of a private museum showing objects d’art from the farthest reaches of the world.

 

Location:              Visit Crane Jewelry Gallery of custom design and antique fine jewelry pieces.

Located at 519 Pine Street just across from Nordstrom in downtown Seattle.

Hours:                   Tuesday – Saturday        10 am – 5 pm

E-mail:                                  kc@cranejewelers.com

Telephone          206.624.1531 PST

 

CRANE JEWELERS-THE ART OF ELEGANCE

 

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For more information contact Kevin Glenn Crane,     Telephone  206.624.1531  Pacific Standard Time

Crane Jewelry Gallery, SEATTLE, WASHINGTON  USA

 

CRANE JEWELERS-THE ART OF ELEGANCE

 

The Tale of the Ghost Bracelet

 

  1. The Ghost bracelet in hand carved black Jade, Carnelian and 18 Karat yellow gold.

The story of the “Ghost Bracelet     Written by the author Skye Moody,  

” “Having visited China many times over the past 32 years, I feel a special relationship to the land and people. In 1985, an elderly Chinese antique dealer in Guilin, who always had something wonderful waiting for me every time I visited him, sold me ten hand-cut, very old carnelian stones, the most beautiful carnelian stones I’d ever seen. They were strung on simple white cotton string. I paid US $26. for them, a fortune as far as my Chinese friend was concerned. In Hong Kong, I had 8 of the stones restrung into a bracelet with knotted black silk and a lovely gold clasp. I wore the bracelet daily, often even at night while I slept. The stones felt like a part of me. Then, eighteen years later, in 2003, I gave the bracelet to a firm for re-stringing. The bracelet mysteriously “disappeared”. I was devastated. In 2005, I met Kevin Crane, and when I told him my sad tale and showed him the two carnelian stones that didn’t end up in the bracelet, he blinked his eyes a few times, then said, “I have an idea.” In Kevin’s brilliant mind had formed the vision that would become the “Ghost Bracelet”, which I now wear every day and cherish.  Have a look at artistic genius.”

 

“When I first encountered the Stones it was clear that we were looking at some very ancient and time worn Chinese stones. They felt good when you held them in your hands. My vision was to see the missing bracelet remade as new. We could have easily copied the remaining Carnelian beads and carved her a set of new beads as replacements of the missing stones and recreated a bracelet very similar to the one that Ms. Moody had lost… However; the new beads would not have had the history and energy of the missing gems. It seemed to be more powerful and fitting to honor the missing beads by carving the replacements in black Jade and make them become a “ghost” of what had been lost.”

Kevin Glenn Crane

 

This is sky’s bracelet after restoration.

The Ghost bracelet in hand carved black Jade, Carnelian and 18 Karat yellow gold.