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.

.

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).

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

Navajo Watch Cuff Switcheroo

I recently purchased a NOS (New Old Stock) watch cuff that had never had a timepiece in it.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

My heavy vintage New Old Stock watch cuff……..looking for a timepiece

I wanted a good timepiece for it, one that would put up with my rugged lifestyle and look good with my fall and winter flannel shirt ensembles….but without breaking the bank. I had researched the Citizen Eco-Drive stainless steel watches and some self winders but all I saw were out of my price range. I looked at manual wind up watches and purchased a Timex that was advertised as having a stainless steel bezel only to find on arrival that it was brass with chrome plating !! So I returned it and put the poor empty cuff on my desk and looked at it for days, weeks……….months……….and then something appeared…………..

Vintage watch cuff with Wenger Stainless Steel Timepiece

Vintage watch cuff with Wenger Stainless Steel Timepiece

An estate lot came in with a number of men’s watches in it. One of the vintage cuffs had a stainless steel Wenger in it and while it looked super cool on that cuff, it was really not functional because you could not grab onto the stem which was flush with the edge of the cuff. The timepiece was really too narrow for that vintage cuff with straight sides. So with the store’s blessings, I pulled a switcheroo.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

From the left, my NOS watch cuff, the vintage cuff with the Wenger watch, a black quartz watch.

The Wenger went into my cuff and because the cuff was sculpted inward on each side specifically to allow access to the watch stem, it was a perfect marriage.

My NOS cuff with Wenger timepiece

My NOS cuff with Wenger timepiece

Fits like a glove and easy to read.

Fits like a glove and easy to read.

A black blanket-pattern quartz watch, that was wide enough so that the stem extended over the straight edge of the vintage watch cuff,  was installed and now that cuff has a functional watch.

Vintage Cuff with black faced quartz watch - stem is now functional

Vintage Cuff with black faced quartz watch – stem is now functional

Happy ending all around.

Thank you to Henry and Diane for their excellent help with custom repairs and modifications.

Contact:

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

Paula

Native American Jewelry Repair – Watch for Upcoming Series

Repairing Native American Jewelry

We receive many queries from customers and readers who have a Native American jewelry item that they want repaired.

There is a difference between repair and restoration.

If a bracelet has a break in one of the sterling silver wire bands and you want that break fixed so you can wear the bracelet, that is an example of a repair.

If you have inherited a vintage squash blossom necklace which has lost two stones and has several crushed blossoms, and you want it to be fixed so that it looks like it did originally, that would be an example of a restoration.

Repairing an adjustable chip inlay ring, that only cost $10 originally, could be cost prohibitive – unless the ring is so dear to you that cost is not an issue.

However, with a vintage belt buckle that your grandfather wore every day and passed along to your father and now he to you  – that might be a different story. The restoration might be costly but could result in an irreplaceable heirloom.

Any repairs to Native American jewelry should be done by craftsmen experienced specifically in Native American jewelry techniques and who have access to materials commonly use in Native American jewelry.

To help you learn about repairs and restoration, I’m partnering with a friend in Arizona who heads up a top notch repair service (see contact information below). Watch for the first in our series of repair articles coming soon ! Paula

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

 

Jewelry Repair – Native American Cast Bracelet

Hi Paula,

I have a split band Sterling Silver Tufacast cuff with one turquoise stone set in a bezel that is soldered to all 4 bands.  There is a fine crack almost all the way through one of the bands due to opening and closing the bracelet (which I no longer do). Should I have it repaired or leave as is?  Will the stone need to be removed?  What if I just melt silver solder over the crack as a patch to camouflage it?

Thank you, Lenora

First some definitions so all readers are on the same page here.

A split band bracelet can have 2 bands or as many as, well 20 or more. Lenora’s bracelet is a cast bracelet with 4 bands.There are also split band bracelets that are not cast.

Split band bracelets might also be referred to as a 4 Wire bracelet or sometimes a Spread Wire bracelet and yet that would not be correct as there are differences.

A split band is a bracelet made of one strip of sterling silver whose mid section has been sliced lengthwise into the desired number of bands so that the bands are open in the center (such as the plain sterling silver cast bracelet below) or can reach out and attach to the centerpiece, usually a nice turquoise stone.

Sterling Silver Split Band Bracelet

Sterling Silver Split Band Bracelet

3-Wire Navajo Bracelet with Emerald Valley Turquoise Stone

3-Wire Navajo Bracelet with Emerald Valley Turquoise Stone

8-Wire Zuni Bracelet

8-Wire Zuni Bracelet

A wire bracelet is similar in end result but is made by joining the desired number of sterling silver wires together at their ends to form the end pieces of the cuff bracelet.

3-Wire Navajo Inlay Bear Bracelet

3-Wire Navajo Inlay Bear Bracelet

Tufa Cast and Sand Cast are basically the same procedure and you can read about the Sand Cast process in a previous post.

Lenora doesn’t say where the crack is exactly but most likely it is where one of the bands is attached to the back of the stone setting.

When a repair is made to sterling silver, heat is involved. Usually the stone would have to be removed or your risk at the least, the stone losing its adhesion to its setting and at the worst, the stone cracking or otherwise being damaged.

I would not advise camouflaging the crack with silver solder unless you are an experienced silversmith but then if you were, you wouldn’t be asking me !

But you bring up an excellent point – many Native American bracelets are damaged when people repeatedly open and close the bracelets to put them on and take them off. This can not only loosen the stones, especially with inlays, but it can also crack the silver.

Here is the jewelry repair service we use and we are thoroughly satisfied with their work:

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

Read more about selection and care of sterling silver bracelets.

Choosing a Cuff Bracelet

Cuff Bracelet Fit Tips Including Putting a Bracelet On Properly

Share