One of the fans broke off my cuff watch bracelet – can it be repaired?

Here is another installment in our Native American jewelry repair series with Old Town Trading Co.

Question:

One of the silver fans broke off of my watch bracelet.  Can it be repaired?

Answer:

Sure.  Pieces of silver are joined by soldering.  A process called “hot” soldering uses solder made of silver.  “Cold” soldering uses solder made of lead.  Hot soldering is the best method by far for jewelry repair, especially if the piece will have any kind of pressure on it, like a watch bracelet fan or belt buckle pin.  Hot soldering involves heating both the bracelet and the separate fan to very high temperatures, then applying solder and flux (kind of like “metal glue”) to flow between the pieces along the joint.  Cold soldering is a similar process, but the pieces do not have to be heated to as high a temperature.  Hot soldering is routinely used to build a new piece of jewelry, but it is extremely difficult to use successfully for repairs.

Question:

Why can’t my own jeweler solder the piece?

Answer:
Some jewelers may attempt to use cold solder for repair, but it does not attach with nearly the strength of a hot solder repair.  Also, the cold soldering process still requires heat.  Turquoise and many of the other stones and shells routinely used in Native American jewelry are very sensitive to heat, and can actually burn out of the setting.  We do find that most jewelers are honest with their customers and will decline to attempt any repair of this type.

Question:

How do your silversmiths keep the stones from burning?

Answer:

They use a combination of removing any stones that will be near the heated area, and “packing” the rest to keep them cool.  After the soldering is finished, all stones that were removed must be replaced.  We try to remove as few stones as possible during repair to be more cost effective and lessen the chance of any stones breaking during removal.

Question:

What if I’ve lost the fan piece entirely?

Answer:

We can duplicate just about anything.  The silversmiths would cut a matching piece and attach it.

Question:

Can you describe the repair that is pictured?

Answer:

This watch bracelet was missing one fan.  Also, the stones had sunk down into their bezel settings.  Our silversmith made a new fan, removed all of the stones from the band, and soldered the new fan in place.  After the bracelet was oxidized and polished, the silversmith reset the stones and attached the watch into its spot.  This repair cost $125.00.  The watch bracelet is ready to wear and enjoy again!

Cuff watch bracelet with fan replaced

Old Town Trading Company has been in business in Scottsdale, AZ for 26 years and has 2 Native American artists who perform expert repairs and renovations to new and vintage pieces.

Old Town Trading Co. / Jewels of the West

4009 N. Brown Avenue

Scottsdale, AZ  85251
480-970-8065

Attn: Diane
jewelsofthewest@qwestoffice.net

2 thoughts on “One of the fans broke off my cuff watch bracelet – can it be repaired?

  1. “Cold solder” is normally either tin or lead. It should almost never be used because if any silver soldering is done afterwards, the heat will cause the tin/lead to alloy with the silver eroding or eating a hole into the piece. I have seen quick fixes using this material where the tin/lead flowed up into the design and/or framework and could not be removed without removing the twist wire/bezel/decoration… thus compromising the integrity of the piece. I have seen vintage pieces ruined in this way.

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