Professional Jeweler Archive: Repairing an In-Line Box Link Bracelet

June 2002

Professional Bench/Defining Quality


Repairing an In-Line Box Link Bracelet

Knowing how to accomplish this skill demonstrates another aspect of quality in your shop


The interconnecting link assemblies on this in-line box link bracelet are worn (A in the illustration at right). Reconstruction is necessary or the bracelet will soon break apart. The jewelry wasn’t cleaned regularly, and the accumulation of debris acted as an abrasive, speeding up the wearing process. The worst wear is on each side of the clasp ends.

To perform the reconstruction, JA Certified Master Bench Jeweler Steece Hermanson will disassemble the bracelet where it’s worn, remove the worn wires and reconstruct the that part of the box link. Then he’ll make new link wires by forming a single wire into a “U” shape and threading it through the newly reconstructed and adjacent link. Once the new link wires are formed, he’ll solder them.

The worn areas are difficult to see without magnification, so it’s up to you to locate the problem areas, advise your customer accordingly and perform necessary reconstruction.

The Disassembly Procedure

The first step is to disassemble the bracelet where the links are worn and remove the worn link wires. To do this, Hermanson turns the bracelet upside down and saws the link wires between the worn links with an 8/0 blade. This bracelet had one severely worn area that came apart when pulled.

After the bracelet is disassembled, Hermanson carefully removes the linking wires by grinding from both ends of the cut links. Then he assesses the damage to the box links.

This bracelet has severely worn wires and box links in three junctions that require reconstruction.

Reconstructing the Box Links

Hermanson first reconstructs the box links. The extent of the wear dictates the reconstruction. This bracelet has three worn box links. The end of the box link is thin, and the wires have worn away because of friction during normal wear.
Before reassembling, he carefully drills two holes in the reconstructed end link. Alignment of the holes must be precise, so the reassembled bracelet will lie flat and even.
Hermanson uses a small cylinder bur to remove metal diagonally across the end of the link. Next, he positions a small wire across the end after moistening it to hold it in place.

Reassembling the Bracelet

To reassemble, Hermanson selects karat gold linking wires equivalent to the diameter used previously. He cuts three pieces about 10mm long and forms each into a “U,” which eliminates one of the soldering steps, a critical consideration with multiple solder joints on a single reconstructed link.

Next he places the links next to one another, feeds the wire through the upper gallery portion and forms it around the lower gallery portion of the box link. He cuts them to the proper length and solders with easy solder.

Spacing of each reconstructed link is critical and controlled. If the links are too close together, the bracelet won’t be flexible. If there’s too much space between the links, the finished bracelet will have an unprofessional appearance. The goal is to have each link spaced evenly, as the technician accomplished when the bracelet was originally made.

The last step is the final finishing. This bracelet had three link junctions that required reconstruction. The wire and box links were worn. Because Hermanson used a Tack II tack welder and Laser Welder for a portion of the work, the job took about an hour. It would have taken about 90 minutes if he had exclusively used a torch.

Diagram of karat gold wires (blue) shows path of link reconstruction

Technology
In his shop, Steece Hermanson uses an ABI Tack II tack welder with a double-pole tweezers attachment to tack-weld the wire into place.

Next he uses a laser welder to fix the wire permanently into position. He files the wire flush on each side of the link and flat on the end that faces the opposing link, being careful to remove all tool marks.

Bench jewelers with no access to this equipment must hard-solder the wire into position.

By Mark B. Mann, Director of Trade Programs, Jewelers of America

Technical Contributions by Steece Hermanson, JA® Certified Master Bench Jeweler™
and shop manager of Galloway & Moseley, Sumter, SC

This information is required for the third level of the JA® Bench Jeweler Certification™ program.

© 2002 Jewelers of America
Illustrations by Lainie Mann – Visual Communications


The JA® Professional’s Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship

In-Line Box Bracelet

Professionally Reconstructed In-Line Box Bracelet

A. The links are evenly spaced and the bracelet is flexible.

B. No links are frozen together.

C. The wires where the links were reassembled were carefully formed and soldered with no incomplete joints.

D. There is no excess solder at the reconstructed joints.

E. The box links are rebuilt properly and there is no evidence of workmanship, tool marks or other dents and scratches.

Potential Problems to Watch for

After the reconstruction, the spacing is excessive between the reassembled links.
The wires in the reconstructed area have excessive solder.
The links are frozen together. Improper reconstruction and torch techniques were used.
The link wires are too small in diameter. The wires where reconstruction is accomplished should be the same diameter as the original wires.

By Mark B. Mann, Director of Trade programs, Jewelers of America

This information is required for the third level of the JA® Bench Jeweler Certification™ program.

For more information about bench jeweler certification, call Jewelers of America at (800) 223-0673 or visit JA’s Web site at www.jewelers.org.

© 2002 Jewelers of America
Illustrations by Lainie Mann – Visual Communications

Copyright © 2002 by Bond Communications