Monday, October 25, 2021

Avoid Impractical Jewelry


Sir Isaac Newton | Submitted

You bought it because it was unusual and incredibly expensive and find it a nuisance to wear, and when you brought it back to where you purchased it, they could care less, and after all they already have your money.

Being a long time practicing goldsmith I am often called upon to right many wrongs, kind of like the nostalgic cartoon super hero “Mighty Mouse” whose call to fame was, “Here I come to save the day!” Some folks consider me a bit of a cranky jewelry genius when it comes to righting many wrongs pertaining to precious jewelry (not to mention repairing or adjusting my fair share of the dreaded costume stuff!). Many problems that can arise in certain jewelry designs, the most common is that pesky thing called…Gravity.

Gravity you say? Yes, it is the cause of most jewelry mishaps. The first rule to Goldsmithing 101 is you always first find the center of gravity on every pendant, earring or pin… first and then plan it in the overall design. From what I have seen lately that proven theory has gone by the wayside. “It flops over!” or the piece hangs crooked, flips left and right or even upside down, it’s either too long or too short, or too heavy, not heavy enough, just when you think you have seen it all, another new flaw in the ointment. Most jewelry superheroes would escape to another galaxy where aliens don’t wear jewelry.

Maybe fifty to seventy-five percent of the time I can remedy the problem, sometimes I can’t unless more money is spent. Hey, like I sometimes have to explain to people, first of all you didn’t buy it here (and the jeweler you bought it from treated you like it was day two after a one night stand), plus the fact this isn’t silly putty I’m working with here, it’s my gold, my platinum, my diamonds or precious gemstones I may have to use, and contrary to popular belief, in my world… my time is your money.

After I present what’s it gonna cost in time or money to remedy someone else’s mistake spiel, I find that many don’t want to spend a nickel to make it right, they put the piece away and decide to live with it. In some cases that decision is a good thing for me, like avoiding a speeding bullet coming my way, because some of these “remedies” can be quite tricky to accomplish.

I suggest one avoids all this pain and hardship from the very beginning. Try the piece on and walk around in the store (if they will let you). Watch how it hangs on your neck and lays on your collar bone. Pendants on longer chains tend to swing and pendulum around and never lay flat unless it is well designed to do so.

Make sure the catches and clasps actually work; faulty ones are expensive to replace. Nice quality, tight and secure earring backs are a must to avoid loss, especially for expensive diamond studs.

Rings that will be worn 24-7 must be designed to do so. Lightweight rings with sharp edges, or multiple prongs are a poor choice, besides ruining your clothing, you might even injure yourself or someone else, and they will be forever in the repair shop. Channel or bezel set gems are trouble free. Top heavy rings will flop right or left on your finger unless the fit is tight; remember that gravity thing I mentioned earlier? Sizing fingers is a common problem with all jewelers; a lot of things come into play here. Humid weather, cold weather, large knuckles, thin fingers, no knuckles, thick fingers, one’s diet (salty foods expand fingers), some medications play havoc, and my favorite… placing it on the wrong finger getting it stuck and blaming me for sizing it incorrectly.

Neck chains can be troublesome to many, “How come the catch always comes to the front next to my pendant?” Earth’s Gravity! Sorry, no real remedy for this unless you super glue the catch to the back of your neck. (Unpractical, you didn’t read it here.) Splitting a chain or omega and mounting a pendant in between creates additional problems, shifting left and right or flipping up and down and never being centered.

In a nutshell, in life there are always some inconveniences you have to live with, like horrible kids or in-laws for example. I remember one time a person was neurotically upset about her catch coming to the front of her neck, and after thirty minutes of complaining she refused to accept it’s a fact of life and a gravity thing, my patience gone and buttons pushed, I told her in her future there is a guaranteed way to remedy the problem. When her time comes and she is laid to rest horizontally, I will guarantee her chain will not spin around throughout all eternity.

They don’t call me a jewelry genius for nothing!

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and a follower of Sir Isaac Newton’s work. He welcomes your questions and comments about all that glitters. He can be reached at 239-394-9275 or, or visit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *