What to do about a vintage costume jewelry piece that has graying or spotting stones

Posted by: Stefanie Brawner, Pretty Snazzy Vintage Jewelry & Supplies

19 May 2013

So what do you do when you have a vintage jewelry piece that has graying or spotting stones? There isn't one answer. It depends on the piece itself. You have to take into account several things:

  1. How easy would it be to replace the bad stones? Are the stones glued in or are they set with prongs?  Prongs - especially the ones in chain - can be very difficult to change out because the stones were (and still are) set by machine. And prongs like to break. I'm not saying not to replace them, just something to keep in mind. Glue in stones are usually (but not always) easier to replace.
  2.  How many stones need to be replaced? Do you have just a few bad stones? If you would have a lot to do, is it feasible to change them all out? If you just have a few bad stones, it's probably worth pursuing - especially if they are common stones. If you have a lot of bad stones and feel ok about changing them out, it may be ok to do that too - depending on how you answer these other questions.
  3. How easy are the stones to find? And how well will they match the other stones (if you don't need to replace them all)? If they are more unusual stones, look to see if you can find replacements BEFORE taking out the old ones! Having a spotty stone in a piece is better than an empty spot - or a badly matched stone.
  4. How structurally sound is the piece? It is an absolutely sickening feeling when you have a piece snap off when you are pushing down a prong, trying to remove a stubborn stone etc. If you an area that looks a little too delicate or fragile to putting force on, it's probably better to err on the side of caution.
  5. How valuable is the piece - either monetarily or sentimentally? If it holds a lot of value, it could make it so you really want it fixed, or don't want to take a chance with it. If it isn't worth a lot (at least in the present condition), it might be worth it to make it desirable again - or maybe not worth the money and effort you'd put into it.

I don't want to discourage you from making repairs on these pieces. The whole idea is to take something that is less than perfect and making it desirable again. Most of the time that isn't difficult or expensive to do. Even if it needs more extensive stone replacement, many times it is worth it. It is so satisfying when you take a piece and make it whole again. You just have to pick and choose your battles!

One picture is of a piece that I chose to leave as is. The other pictures are before and after pictures of a piece that had graying stones that were changed out by my sister Melissa at www.jewelryrepaircompany.com.