The Eagle Has Landed – Inlay Repair by My Favorite Silversmith

Carlene Leekity Inlay Eagle Necklace – do you see the missing inlay?

When this Carlene Leekity eagle inlay necklace came into the store in an estate lot, I didn’t even notice there was a piece of inlay missing because the backing material was black just like the shell inlay.

Henry and Diane to the rescue !

I’ve been working with Diane Radeke and Henry Yazzie for at least 6 years. Their team has done repairs on many vintage items that have arrived as part of estate lots but needed TLC before we could offer them in our Vintage Shop. Diane is the point person but I think of her more as a shepherdess who guides the project masterfully from start to finish. She determines what needs to be done, what the customer wants, and then confers with her partner, Henry Yazzie, to determine what supplies are needed and what the cost will be. Henry creates wonderful custom jewelry and also does careful, creative, excellent repairs. You can read about other projects we have worked on over the years by simply searching “Repairs” in the search box on this blog. Contact information for Diane and Henry is at the end of this article and at My Favorite Silversmith.

Henry graciously supplied us with some photos and explained the steps he follows to repair missing inlaid shell or stone pieces in jewelry:

He first examines the missing stone area.  There may be material in the opening that raised the stone or shell to the correct height.  This material may be clear epoxy, which turns brown or yellow over time, Dev-con, which is generally gray, or JB Weld, which is often black.  The base material can stay in place if it is still tight and in good shape. Otherwise it will need to be removed and replaced.

Henry then selects a stone or shell that will be the correct height and size for the opening.  The pen shell for this repair (see photos below) was procured for me by a good friend D. Robert Smith who is an excellent lapidarist at his Dancing Raven Stoneworks LLC.

Pen shell for inlay repair

Some shells and stones cannot be ground down from the face side, so careful sizing is important. Henry cuts a piece of replacement material that is a bit larger than the opening.

Henry then moves to the grinder, which is typical lapidary equipment that uses a water drip feed to keep the stone cool and reduce dust,. There he shapes the first edge of the replacement piece.

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He then checks the fit to the missing inlay opening. Working back and forth, he continues to grind bit by bit until the replacement piece is a perfect fit for the opening (see the slide show below).

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Jewelers glue is used to secure the new shell piece in place.

With Zuni inlay, there is no bezel adjustment as found in traditional Navajo jewelry.  The piece must fit perfectly. If it does, it will maintain its fit for many years.

Henry reminds us ! “As with any bezel set jewelry, it is important to not let inlaid jewelry stay wet for any length of time – this could allow backing materials to swell and/or pop the inlay.  And it is particularly important to not bend the jewelry, as that would change the size of the opening and cause stone loss.”

and I add “That’s why we always caution our customers to not try and resize an inlay bracelet! If you do, when bending, the stones could go pop, pop, pop !”

For this eagle necklace, Henry also matched the feather etching on the wings using a Dremel tool.  A final polish removes any rough spots or bits of glue.

What a wonderful repair job !

Repair completed and necklace ready to enjoy for many years to come !

To contact Diane and Henry at My Favorite Silversmith for your repairs:

Diane Radeke
602-354-5028
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078
                                                                   Thank you Diane and Henry !
                                                                                                                         Paula

Restringing a Squash Blossom Necklace

When this arrived in a recent estate lot, I went eeek ! and then promptly contacted our favorite repair shop. Although we can make minor repairs and alterations here at our store, we leave something like this to a professional that has experience with Native American jewelry.

A jumble of beads and a broken wire – I wonder if everything is here to make a necklace again??!!

The 14 mm handmade beads are stamped on both side and so are the blossoms – quite rare !

As usual Henry did his magic – straightening any bent blossom petals, balancing all the beads beautifully, making a new hook and eye closure….resulting in a treasure of a necklace.

The repair shop we use…….

Diane Radeke
602-354-5028
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078

See this related article

Shortening a Squash Blossom Necklace for Paula

Paula

Can I wear my sterling silver bracelet in a hot tub with chlorinated water?

Dear Paula,

I just placed an order for a sterling silver twist bracelet and am very excited to receive it. I was speaking to family members that own Sterling silver and they said it will turn black if I wear it in the pool or hot tub.I am thinking that my bracelet is made from better material and that I will not have this problem. Please let me know what you think about this matter.
I love the look of this bracelet and have been waiting to purchase it for quite a few years. I have had your website in my favorites and I finally made my purchase. Thank you for your time and patience. WS

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Hi WS,

The bracelet you ordered is made from sterling silver. I have had one for years and it is as shiny as ever – maybe once a year I wipe it with a polishing cloth.
But I have never worn one in a shower, bath, dishwater, pool, hot tub and wouldn’t recommend it because as you would learn if you google this search phrase “sterling silver chlorine”

One effect that chlorine can have on sterling silver is discoloration or tarnish. Discoloration happens when the copper in the alloy reacts with the chlorine. The discoloration can be either a light brown or black.

Also, silver is a very good conductor of heat so wearing jewelry in a hot tub would seem to invite discomfort…….just sayin’

Paula

Closing the Gap on a Native American Inlay Cuff Bracelet

When this beautiful inlay bracelet by Merle House Jr. came into our store,

Inlay Bracelet by Navajo artist Merle House, Jr.

Inlay Bracelet by Navajo artist Merle House, Jr.

I just had to have it…………it matched a pendant and ring I have by him which I love to wear.

BUT the bracelet was gallons too big. Made to fit a 7 1/2″ wrist, I didn’t know if it could be closed up enough to fit my 6 3/4″ wrist.

BEFORE – The 1 3/4″ gap was so large that the bracelet would roll and fall off my wrist.

The silver measured 5 3/4″ end to end. It was the gap that was the bad boy – at 1 3/4″ it would allow the bracelet to roll and fall off my wrist. If it could be closed at least 1/2″, down to a 1 1/4″ gap maximum, I think that could work for me – still enough of a gap to get on and off but it would stay on. It would likely be a little lose but for these big heavy ones, I kind of like them moving a bit.

I asked my go-to repair gal Diane Radeke if Henry could possibly do that and she said “NO PROBLEM!”

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AFTER – Here it is after resizing – With the gap closed to 1 1/8″, the bracelet now goes on and off very easily and stays put on my wrist !

I asked Diane what is involved in resizing an inlay bracelet and here is what she said:

“It’s a commonly held belief that inlaid bracelets cannot be sized because of the risk of stones popping out or breaking.  It can, however, be done by a skilled silversmith with the right tools, materials and experience.

 
The simplest style to resize have stones inlaid on less than half of the length of the bracelet (like Paula’s). 
Inlay confined to just the front of the bracelet - that's good news in terms of my hopes of getting this resized downward.

The inlay is confined to just the front of the bracelet – that was good news for getting this resized downward.

Special tools and a lot of patience will allow the silversmith to bend only the sections of bracelet that have no stones.  The inlaid portion will not change its shape, and the stones will remain secure.
 

If more than half of the length is covered with stones, the silversmith can lift the stones out of the bracelet, reshape the bracelet, and then carefully set the stones back in place.  There are a few adjustments to be made, however, as the “bed” for the stones will now be a different size.  If the bracelet is being made smaller, the curved bed will become longer – then tiny slivers of stone will be added to fill the gaps.  More difficult is if the bracelet is being made larger – the curved bed becomes shorter so some of the stones will be filed ever so slightly to fit correctly without binding.

 

Resizing a favorite inlaid bracelet can be time consuming, but may be well worth the investment for the enjoyment of wearing it! “

 

So here it is back to me and WOW, my dream came true.

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Many thanks to Diane and Henry for yet another successful jewelry modification/repair !
Paula

We recommend contacting Diane Radeke for Native American jewelry repairs. They do all of the repairs for our store and we are thoroughly satisfied with their work.  Paula

Contact:

Diane Radeke
602-354-5028
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078

To Polish or Not to Polish, That is the Question……….

We sell many used and vintage pieces that have from light to heavy patina and tarnish on them. We leave the choice of whether to polish or not to the customer.

Patina is the overall uniform darkening that occurs from aging. Patina adds a richness to vintage pieces. How much patina you like is personal preference, there is no right or wrong.

Tarnish, on the other hand, is a thin dirty film that appears on silver as it oxidizes. Tarnish, in my opinion, should be remove regularly using a mild method, such as with a buffing cloth.  Each of these pieces took about one minute to fully polish with a cloth.

Here is one of my favorite contemporary Hopi Man in a Maze bracelets (by Cyrus Josytewa) before buffing. Basically a dirty bracelet !

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BEFORE

30 seconds later - half done

30 seconds later – half done

DONE One minute of polishing

DONE One minute of polishing

Tarnish on polishing cloth

Tarnish on polishing cloth

Hubby’s favorite buckle (Stanley Gene, Navajo) has some nice patina and also has tarnish. I’m on the fence with this piece – I actually think I prefer the overall patina but he volunteered it for an example. A buckle makes contact with a lot of surfaces so even after the tarnish is removed, the buckles still has its character scratches.

BEFORE

BEFORE

Midway

Midway

AFTER

AFTER

Here are some more articles related to jewelry care:

Are you supposed to polish Navajo Pearls?

Cleaning Vintage Native American Jewelry

A reminder about jewelry polishing cloths

Paula

New Life for a Cracked Turquoise Stone Bracelet

The estate lots we purchase commonly contain at least a couple of damaged vintage pieces. We have the choice of selling them AS-IS, with extensive tarnish or soil, silver damage, a missing stone, a loose stone, a cracked stone……OR we can have the item repaired so the piece can be used again ! When I see a beautifully crafted necklace, ring or bracelet that would otherwise be tossed in a box to be forgotten, I do whatever I can to help revive the piece.

This beautiful bracelet hallmarked LESTER ORTIZ  and STERLING

weighs 89 grams and is 2 3/8″ tall at the front.

The gorgeous green turquoise stone (I’ll let you ponder the mine – please put your guesses in the comments below) was too good to toss.

I sent this bracelet to Diane at Old Town (see contact information below) who coordinates the work for the Navajo silversmiths there. Henry waved his magic wand over this one and turned it from trash to treasure !  Thank you Henry !!!!

BEFORE

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DAMAGED LESTER ORTIZ BRACELET

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AFTER

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REPAIRED AND REVIVED BRACELET

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The repair service we use:

Diane Radeke
602-354-5028
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078

Paula

Replacing batteries in watch cuffs

Hi Paula,

I have purchased 2 native american watch cuff’s.  I would have had  to  have the batteries  replaced in them every year .  Is there a kit  that I can buy to replace the batteries in thesewatch  cuff’s my self.   The jewelry stores in my area , now they do not want to replace the batteries in these watches.
Debra

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Tommy Moore Cuff Watch showing the decorative wings that must be opened. Underneath the wings are tabs that secure the watch in place. They must also be opened so that the timepiece can be removed.

Hi Debra,

Just for sake of completeness in this answer, I want to point out that it is easy to replace the battery in a link or expansion band watch because the back of the watch is exposed so it is easy to access. Many people do it themselves or an ordinary jeweler can do it for you.

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An expansion band watch showing how there is easy access of the back of the timepiece.

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Similarly, there is easy access to the back of the timepiece in a link watch.

However, I know you are asking about cuff watches………..they are trickier because the watch face must be removed completely from the cuff bracelet so the back of the timepiece can be accessed. To do that the fans and anchor tabs must be opened and unless you do have the correct tools and know-how you could damage or break the fans or tabs.

My husband and I have both tried to replace the batteries in my watch cuffs. I have also taken them to local jewelers – all with varying degrees of success.

Now I mail all my cuffs to an experienced Native American jeweler when I need a battery replaced. (see the end of this article for contact information).

To extend the life of the battery, I always pull the watch stem out when I am not
wearing my watch cuffs. This stops the watch and the battery lasts longer.

Alternatively you could use a watch that doesn’t require a battery change such as a good old fashioned wind up watch, a kinetic watch (one that self winds in response to your normal everyday arm movements, sometimes referred to as a self-wind or mechanical watch), a solar watch (also called eco drive watch), or a Quartz watch (one that runs on a quartz crystal).

Native American jeweler that we use – contact

Diane Radeke
602-354-5028
P. O. Box 55935
Phoenix, AZ  85078

Paula

To view our full list of articles, go here

http://www.horsekeeping.com/native-american-jewelry-artifacts.htm

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http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn-buying.htm

Visit our pawn shop for your research and shopping

http://www.horsekeeping.com/jewelry/pawn/pawnshop-vin.htm

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Bear Claw Cuff watch by Navajo Elaine Sam