Repairing jewellery for your customers is often a large part of business that comes through your doors unexpectedly, and can be a good way of making some extra money alongside your jewellery designs. So it pays to know the ins and outs of jewellery chain repair. From basic repairs to soldering chain links, we’ve put together this jewellery chain repair guide so that you can make neat, 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 jewellery chain repair techniques such as soldering fine jewellery chain links together.
Not sure how to tell the difference between the various styles of chain? Take a look at our Beginner’s Guide to Different Types of Chain to learn more.
So, let’s start with the basic principles of how to repair chain. This can only be done 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 jewellery chains occurs at the point where the clasp joins the necklace as this is where the most stress is placed. If the spring on the clasp is broken 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 chain you’re working on to see how each link has been fixed together. If it’s a basic link through link attachment, you’re in luck!
- Is there an open link remaining? If there is, you can make the chain link repair directly. If not, you may need to buy or make a new link to replace the old one. If there’s an open chain link remaining, simply 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 own new link with fine gauge wire.
- Neatly close the chain link. Whether you’ve made a new chain link or simply 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 basic snake chain repair trick
There are some chains that seem impossible to repair! But there are some basic tricks you can use to get around this. For example, snake chain appears impossible to repair because of the way it’s constructed. So instead of repairing the tiny chain links themselves, we’d recommend repairing 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. But it can be done! You’ll just need a steady hand, patience and a lot of practice to get this right. You’ll need to solder your chain extender to each end of the snake chain to make the 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 gotten to grips with these tips and tricks your customers will come back to you again and again for jewellery chain repairs.
Don’t forget to stock up on soldering tools and supplies before you practice soldering chain links together.
- Are you repairing a very fine chain with small links? Use a black marker to make a mark on the chain links close to where the solder join 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 jewellery 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 jeweller’s saw down the line of chain links and start sawing 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 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 probe 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 learnt the basics of jewellery chain repair you can add this to your jewellery making repertoire, and even make it a permanent service for your existing customers.
For your latest chain designs make sure you stock up at Cooksongold. We stock loose chain and finished chain in a variety of alloys and styles to help you speed up your jewellery manufacturing process.