Repair & Maintenance of Tennis Bracelets

December 1998

For Your Staff:Selling Quality

Repair & Maintenance of Tennis Bracelets

Knowing what to do when something goes wrong with these popular in-line bracelets demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop

by Mark B. Mann
Director of Professional Certification
Jewelers of America

With the popularity of tennis bracelets – ever since Chris Evert caught the world's attention when she dropped her in-line diamond bracelet at a tennis match a decade ago – comes increased demand for their repair and maintenance.

Tennis bracelets come in a wide range of qualities. On one hand (or should we say wrist) are nicely made, very fine bracelets in which every detail of the assembly was considered; on the other are commercial-quality bracelets often poorly made with little attention to the assembly or quality of the materials.

Here are the main points of inspection for the proper care and maintenance of tennis bracelets:

  1. The bracelet is neither too long nor too short when worn on the wrist.
  2. All joints and hinges are complete and operate smoothly; none are loose from wear or poor construction.
  3. All mechanisms such as closures, box clasps, safety catches and safety chains work with precision.
  4. The catch has a second locking device, usually called a safety.

Here's a closer look at some of the detail of these points.

1. Proper Fit: Not Too Long or Too Short

Al Solomon of Solomon's Fine Jewelers, Plainview, NY, ensures the proper sizing of every tennis bracelet he sells or services. He and his staff use this very simple rule: with the bracelet on the wrist where it's worn most often, the opening between the bracelet and the wrist is at least a one finger width.

 Here's why proper fit is so important. If the bracelet is too long, it will catch and stretch through normal wear. This puts undue stress and pressure on each of the hinge joints and severely weakens them. Al has seen bracelets that have stretched over a half-inch. They also can catch and stretch, then break and become lost. Solomon says his customers enjoy having the "leftover" links made into earrings.


2. Joints and Hinges Operate Smoothly

Here are examples of links and how links might look when excessively worn, stressed or stretched.

Stretching also causes the cracking and tearing of links and their joints. Examine the bracelet as closely as possible for other cracks and tears – they are difficult to spot. You must warn your customer that breaks are likely to occur in other links.

3. Mechanisms work with precision

Make sure the closures, box clasps, safety catches and safety chains work as intended when new – especially the clasp or closure. On commercially made pieces, you'll sometimes see cast instead of die-struck tongues. If cast, the tongues will be soft and not retain the spring action required for repetitive use. In this case, do your customer a favor and recommend replacing it with a properly manufactured part for the overall safety and security of the bracelet. The illustration shows how to differentiate a cast tongue from a die-struck tongue.

A die-struck tongue (top) is smooth and even, with lines showing on the sides of the piece from being die struck (or cut from a sheet of gold). A cast tongue is rounded and soft, lacking spring. It often breaks after only a few openings and closings.



4. Second locking device

Safeties come in many forms. Here are two of the most commonly used: a figure-8 and a safety chain.

Being a Professional

Sometimes, being a professional requires you to communicate bad news about the quality of a customer's piece of jewelry. If you see a bracelet that has a host of manufacturing and assembly defects or excessive wear, it's your responsibility as a professional to warn the customer – in a tactful and appropriate manner – and offer to remake the bracelet.

Take-in Tip

If one link is cracked from being stressed, others are most likely weakened and will soon break. When taking in such a bracelet, always count the number of links from one end to the point where the break occurs (and the repair is to be done); mark this on the job envelope. Then if the bracelet breaks again and the customer thinks it's the same link and you should repair it for no charge, you can show the envelope to verify the second break is at a different location. 


JA Quality Assurance Guide
Repair & Maintenance of Tennis Bracelets

by Mark Mann
Director of Certification
Jewelers of America

This edition of the Jewelers of America Quality Assurance Guide illustrates the signs of a properly made and maintained tennis bracelet as well as features that indicate potential or actual problems.

Properly Maintained Tennis Bracelet

  1. The bracelet fits properly, with about one finger's width between the bottom of the bracelet and the wrist.
  2. All joints and hinges are complete and operate smoothly.
  3. Mechanisms such as closures, box clasps, safety catches and safety chains work with precision.
  4. All stones are secure (see previous issues of Professional Jeweler that deal with specific methods of stone setting such as prongs (February 1998, pp. 183-184), channels (June 1998, pp. 167-168) and bezels (August 1998, pp. 129-130).
  5. The detail and pattern of each link is maintained, free of tool marks, properly finished and polished.
  6. The catch has a second locking device; this one is called a figure-8.


Potential Problems

Improper Fit

There should be about one finger's width between the bracelet and the wrist where it will be worn.






Cast vs. Die-Struck Tongue

Cast tongues eventually will lose the required spring and/or break.






Unfinished or Poorly Finished Links

All detail, including the bottom and inside of a link, should be finished, polished, smooth, free of tool marks and comfortable to wear.




Loose Joints, Links or Hinges

Loose and sloppy joints and links will break eventually. All joints, links and hinges should be complete and operate smoothly.


Lack of Security

The bracelet should have a second locking device called a safety. The most popular types of safeties are the figure-8 clasp and the simple safety chain.


© 1998 Jewelers of America
This information is required for the second level and higher of the JA® Certified Bench Jeweler program

Illustrations by Lainie Mann



Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.


HomeAsk the ExpertBrainstormStatsSite of the WeekConsumer Press Scan
Your Business On-LineCalendarMagazine & Site ArchivesStaffSite Map
Professional Jeweler EventsGuide to Electronic Services
Classified On-LineJA Certification Study Session

Home Ask the Expert Brainstorm Stats Site of the Week Consumer Press Scan Your Business On-Line Calendar Staff Site Map