Fixing Fast Fashion - A Special Order Silver Necklace

Given the increasing popularity of ‘Fast Fashion,’ a phenomenon where trends are in one day and out (or thrown out) the next, it is no surprise that I regularly have customers coming to me with jewellery that they love but have not lasted the test of time. To keep up with fashion at such a speed, items are made quickly and cheaply to last a season rather than a lifetime. Not only is the throw away mentality terrible for the environment, but the premature death of a beloved piece of jewellery is often upsetting for the client. 


I’ve heard that some jewellers prefer not to go near costume jewellery repairs and remakes as they can often be tedious or not to their particular aesthetic, however, I really enjoy working with these pieces. Not only do I see it as a great opportunity to learn, but I really like the idea that I can either repair something that would otherwise be thrown out or remake the piece so that it will last a lifetime. It is more sustainable approach to fashion and encourages my customers to truly treasure their piece of jewellery.


One particular client came to me with her beloved necklace which was so well worn that the plating was patchy and the chains had fallen off so many times that there were layers of glue from desperate attempts to save the its life. My delightful client had two options. A: Discard the necklace she wore so much it practically became part of her body, or B: Find a good jeweller to remake the piece in silver. Luckily for me, she chose B and so I got started.


I began the process by taking direct silicon moulds from the original necklace as I wanted the silver version to be as closed to the original design as possible. I then melted and poured a special type of jeweller’s casting wax into the mould. The wax cast would form the shape for the final metal discs so I had to be really careful to get all of the bubbles out of the wax before it hardened to prevent any holes in my metal.

My highly sophisticated mould making setup. Aka - kitchen stove and patty pans.

Once the waxes had hardened, I filed the discs back to the exact size and shape I needed and then sent them off to be cast.

The freshly carved wax models. 

Freshly cast silver disks. During the casting process, fine plaster is poured around the wax moulds. Once the plaster sets, it is put into a kiln, melting the wax away and leaving a perfectly formed cavity for molten metal to flow into.

The discs on the original necklace had no backing plate to cover and protect the unsightly solder joins which is something I wanted to improve on in the remake. I used my computer to design a backing plate that would protect and help position the points where the chains were attached. I also made sure that the plates included holes to rivet everything together. These designs were then printed in wax and also cast in silver.  

Preparing the disk shapes with their rivets before cleaning to make sure everything fits snugly.

The original piece had a very specific size and patterned chain which was integral to the design. I wanted to use a high quality chain that would last which was quite a challenge to find. I ended up with a beautifully made Italian chain and soldered it onto the backing plate.

Inner workings of the necklace complete with some luxurious flat sterling silver snake chain.

After casting, there is a lot of clean up to be done to give the pieces a fine finish. I filed, sanded and polished the pieces to a near mirror finish, just like the original. 

The necklace is all ready to be riveted. I decided to give the backing plates a brushed finish for a bit of contrast against the shiny chain and feature disks.

I then riveted the piece together by hand and gave it a final touch up polish.

All riveted together!

And I'm finally done. The original necklace on the left and the new one on the right. I know which one my favorite is!

My lovely customer was very happy with her new and improved necklace and hopes that she will one day hand it down to her daughter.

One very happy customer!

The Eternity Band Remake

Since working for a jeweller I have seen many old and sometimes neglected wedding rings come through the door to be repaired. Years of everyday wear tend to reduce protruding details of the pieces such as claws and delicate filigree.

Unfortunately for my lovely mum, her fifteen year old eternity band was in a bit of a state as hand making ceramics is not all that compatible with her desire to wear fine jewellery. Clay is a dusty material and the tiny little particles seemed to be wearing away at the surface of her glasses and her jewellery at a fast rate. Luckily I was up to the challenge of repairing the jewellery but maybe not the glasses.

The piece came to me missing diamonds and slightly squished. On closer inspection with a jeweller’s loupe, my jewellery friend Kristy and I were astonished to see that even though it was bought as a new ring, it had already been reshanked (a new band had been attached) and was falling apart so badly that it wouldn't have lasted much longer.

I had two options with this piece; I could try to salvage the remaining ring that, given the state of it, would probably still fall apart later or remake the whole thing to the same design. Considering that she works with her hands so much, Mum decided that she would have the ring remade using slightly thicker gold to make it more durable.

I wasn't sure how good the quality of the original gold would be, so I decided to make the piece out of new gold, using the old ring as a reference. I rolled down a piece for the shank and hand pierced the pattern. As suspected, the original ring snapped apart with no pressure at all. Lucky she asked me to fix it when she did!

I wasn't sure how good the quality of the original gold would be, so I decided to make the piece out of new gold, using the old ring as a reference. I rolled down a piece for the shank and hand pierced the pattern. As suspected, the original ring snapped apart with no pressure at all. Lucky she asked me to fix it when she did!

I had to source some beautiful rose cut diamonds to replace the ones which were missing and remove the rest from the existing ring. I then prepared the setting and soldered it together.

I had to source some beautiful rose cut diamonds to replace the ones which were missing and remove the rest from the existing ring. I then prepared the setting and soldered it together.

I set the diamonds and hand carved the band.

I set the diamonds and hand carved the band.

Then finished polishing it and set the ruby. Its not a bad match!

Then finished polishing it and set the ruby. Its not a bad match!

All shiny and finished!

All shiny and finished!

FrogCakes!!

Since moving to South Australia, I have been introduced to a local delicacy, the Balfours FrogCake, which is one of the sweetest, naughtiest cakes I have ever eaten. To celebrate this local treat and raise money for mental health research, ceramicists Klaus Gutowski and David Ellis Moseley asked a variety of artists to decorate a ceramic FrogCake blank in their own style to be exhibited at the 'Icon of South Australia' exhibition. Of course I jumped at the opportunity to work with something a little different whilst eating cake.

Paddy and I 'researching' the FrogCake.

Paddy and I 'researching' the FrogCake.

After a few false starts with materials that didn’t quite work out I managed to carve my interlacing pattern into the surface with some rusty, blunt lino cutting tools which I mistakenly acquired from school around thirteen years earlier. Not exactly the easiest choice, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures!

From the original blank to a lovely carved surface. I used washi tape to mask the pattern and actually quite liked it with the tape left on.

From the original blank to a lovely carved surface. I used washi tape to mask the pattern and actually quite liked it with the tape left on.

To bring out the carved surface and add a little jewellery shine to the piece, I painted my piece and added gold leaf to the surface. Between you and me, I preferred the piece before it was painted, however, the deed was done and I couldn't go back!

My completed FrogCake in situ at  Light Square Gallery  in Adelaide.

My completed FrogCake in situ at Light Square Gallery in Adelaide.