Fire is all around us, here in California. In recent years Summer brings not only swimming parties, beautiful sunsets and fun at the river or the lake. It also brings the fear of wildfire and the aftermath that such fires bring with them. Many of us are affected by dangerous, smoke filled air, closures of wildlands and public roads, evacuations of our homes or businesses. I don’t mean to be negative, just the opposite. What I do wish to share is a little glimmer of hope that we, as jewelers, can offer.
When a home burns, the aftermath can be devastating. However, more often than we realize, there are treasures in the ashes. We’ve all heard stories of a family heirloom that was spared, against the odds: a piece of jewelry that was tucked just so and escaped total devastation.
Recently, one of our clients brought this ring to us.
It was damaged in a fire at their home in Oregon. When searching through the remains of his house, he found his ring. Although it looks like it might be beyond repair, that isn’t the case. He brought it to us and our jewelers were able to work their magic and make it, almost, like new again. There were a few steps involved in returning this ring to its former glory. They started by soaking the ring in a lye bath in the ultrasonic. (A lye bath is similar to the chemicals used in drain cleaners. Please don’t try this at home. There are safety precautions that are employed and necessary). After a couple hours they took it out and assessed how it looked, then moved it back and forth: cycling it in the speed bright cleaner (a special cleaner for metals) and the regular ultrasonic cleaner (a cleaner for gemstones). Depending on how the item responded, this cycle was continued two to four times.
After that the piece gets a thorough polishing and a final bath in the ultrasonic to remove the polishing compound.
Although it wasn’t the case with this ring, there can be stone damage depending on what stones are involved and depending on the heat of the fire, and what items are in close proximity while it burned. Down the line there can be complications with sizing and repairs, but in general we can restore the finish and make the items wearable again.
This is the Oregon house ring, after our jewelers worked their magic. Beautiful!
Please know that we offer our deepest condolences for all of the people who have lost their homes in the recent fires.
We’d like to offer our restoration services, at no charge, for any of these folks.
It’s just a small way that we can help.