Disposable jewellery - the new norm :(


April 14th 2017

In order to make jewellery cheaper more machines and less materials is the formula that most jewellery chains use. The results can be very sad, disposable jewellery.

When I say disposable jewellery I mean jewellery that it is not possible or economical to repair.  It is jewellery that you wear until it breaks and then you melt it down.

The wedding ring example.

This wedding ring has well and truly been very happily outlived by the marriage.  When you make a ring like this it is very important that both pieces have structural integrity.  Even though the white and yellow gold gain some strength from sitting together they both still need to have adequate thickness to provide strength in their own right.

You can see in the photo below cracks emerging in the yellow gold section of the band. This to me is also indicative of the machined process used to make the ring which I might write an article on at a later point. 

For now the result is a ring that has dangerously thin and sharp cracks in it. 

Why is it not repairable?

Firstly the cracks are far too numerous to economically repair and the structure of the ring does not allow me to easily push the parts of the ring that are out of place back.

If we cut the ring we can also see that the yellow gold base is very thin. The thinness being one of the causes of the cracking...so repairing it would only lead us to further cracking down the road in other areas.  The ring is made too thin to wear or repair.

Total thickness of the ring 1mm with the yellow gold section being less than half that.

Total thickness of the ring 1mm with the yellow gold section being less than half that.

The replacement ring

This customer knew that the ring was beyond saving and came to me for a new wedding ring. The new design was to be plain but thicker, domed top, inside comfort edge, 6mm wide and made in 9ct yellow gold.

I gave the customer the option of three thickness` for the wedding ring. The cracked old ring weighed 2.8 grams and you will notice that the difference between the 2mm and 1.6mm thickness options for the new ring below is not much less than that at 2.5 grams.

  • 2mm thick = 8.5 grams
  • 1.8mm thick = 7 grams
  • 1.6mm thick = 6 grams

I would say that well over 90% of the male customers that come to me for a wedding ring select in the 1.8 - 2mm thickness range for their ring.  You can see in the next photo the new ring at 1.8mm thickness next to the old 1mm thick ring.

1.8mm thickness on the left and 1mm on the right.

1.8mm thickness on the left and 1mm on the right.

Earrings- Jewellery chains taking thinness to a whole new level.

I often get asked to repair earrings purchased from jewellery resellers like this hoop and sadly they are usually not repairable once they are damaged.

Common hoop earring with a dent.

Common hoop earring with a dent.

The beauty of thin earrings is that you can get size with little weight drawing down on the earlobe. The down side is that they bend out of shape easily.

That gold is .08mm thin. The paper in my printer at the moment is .05mm thick. I simply cannot work by hand with gold that thin. If we cut this earring at the point of the bend you can see how thin the gold is.

Hoop earring made from .08mm thin tubing.

Hoop earring made from .08mm thin tubing.

Know what you are buying.

When you hold a piece of jewellery you can usually feel how much precious metal has been used or not used in its creation.  If it feels paper thin then expect to wear it until it breaks and then go buy a new one.

For me it is the growing abundance of disposable jewellery like this being sold in the jewellery chains that made me stop doing repairs quite a few years ago. I now concentrate on servicing my customers, not theirs.

Buying disposable jewellery is fine, just so long as you know what you are buying and don`t pay too much for it.  Personally I have no interest in making or selling it.