Everything You Need To Know About Locket Repair

Dating back to antiquity, lockets are pieces of jewelry that have wonderful sentimental value. As simple as they are, however, they can be tricky to repair and require special experience. If you have one that’s not looking in its best shape, here’s what you need to know about locket repair.

What’s a Locket?

As a basic definition, a locket is a small case designed to hold pictures or other items. While a traditional locket is made out of silver or gold, with two sides and a hinge, designers have continued to elaborate on its basic concept to create different variations.

You can count on a locket to have the following components, however:

locket-repair-diagram

  • Sides: For a locket, there has to be a minimum of two “flaps” that close together to encase the contents. Some lockets are more complex and may have up to four or even eight flaps that fold for additional photos!
  • Hinge: The mechanism that allows the locket to open and close.
  • Friction-clasp pin: The little bit of metal at the opening of the locket that snaps into place when the locket is closed and keeps it shut.
  • Bail: The loop of metal that allows the locket to be worn on a chain.

Over the years these components can wear down or break from daily use. We’ve compiled a list of common repairs for lockets so you’ll know how to get them fixed if that’s the case!

5 Popular Locket Repairs

  1. Friction-clasp pin repair: The bit of metal that clicks into a small slot at the front of your locket to keep it shut is the most fragile component in the entire design. After all, it’s just a tiny, thin rectangle that has to deal with constant opening and closing. If it snaps off, fails to land in its corresponding spot, or repeatedly fails to hold the locket shut, the jeweler needs to take a look at it. Upon evaluation, they will determine how the repair should proceed.
    Sometimes the friction clasp just needs to be bent back into its proper place in order for it to work properly again. The jeweler does this by taking a pair of pliers and gently reshaping the metal to its former state. Then they’ll test it by attempting to close the locket- if they hear a click and the locket cannot be shaken open, the repair is complete.
    If the piece of metal is gone, the jeweler will use a matching piece of scrap metal and solder it to the same location as the original. The scrap metal is shaped to match the slot, so that it will fit properly and stay secure when closed.

    locket-repair-hinge

    This locket’s friction clasp was fixed by bending it back into place.

  2. Hinge Repair: Repairing the hinge of a locket can get tricky for a jewelry. If the hinge’s main components are still intact, all the jeweler needs to do is thread a new piece of wire through the existing “knuckles” of the mechanism and ensure that it can open and close without being too loose or too tight.
    If the knuckles are broken off or damaged, however, the jeweler will have to replace then or rebuild them if possible. This can be a difficult repair for a jeweler who doesn’t have experience with locket designs.

    locket-antique

    A locket with the hinge parts still intact.

  3. Bail Soldering: If the bail of a locket breaks off, the locket can’t be worn as there’s nothing to connect it to a chain. Depending on the damage, the jeweler can do one of three things:
    1. If the bail is merely thin at one area and has a break in it, the jeweler can simply add metal and solder the bail shut. The piece is polished to erase signs of work.
    2. If the bail has broken off but is still intact, the jeweler can solder it back on and polish off excess signs of work at the area of soldering.
    3. If the bail is entirely gone, the jeweler will supply a new bail that matches the locket’s metal and solder it to the location of the original bail.
      locket-repair-bail

      The bail was broken off this locket, requiring a quick solder at the top to make it functional again.

  4. Re-plating: Gold-plated or gold-fill lockets will lose color over time. In order to restore its color, the jeweler first gives it a slight polish. Then the locket is either moved straight into the gold plating tank, or treated with a preliminary coat of palladium or nickel if the metal of the locket is not chemically compatible with the gold plating process. It’s important to polish the piece, as the gold plating is very thin and any scratches or dents on the surface of the locket will show underneath the plating if not removed beforehand.
    locket-repair-gold-plating

    This gold-fill cherub locket was touched up with a coat of 1 micron gold plating.

  5. Stone replacement: For lockets that have gems in the design, these can fall out over time. Stone replacement can be easily done by any jeweler, but the real repair lies in setting it into the locket without damaging the structure of the item. The sides of certain lockets is very thin, to the point where you can see a “dimple” in the metal as to where the stone was set. The jeweler has to exercise caution when selecting a new gem and setting it into the front.
    locket-repair-stone-replacement

    This gold locket was fixed by removing one remaining rhinestone and replacing it with garnets.

Now you’re up to date on locket repair and what it entails! To get started on fixing your own locket, comment below and we’ll get back to you.

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susan eral
susan eral

Hi I have exactly the same heart shape antique locket as the one you have in your photo. The friction clasp pin has broken off and I would like to know if you will repair it for me. The locket is gold cased eg the inside of the locket would be gilt brass and the shell of the locket is gold. I asked my jeweller and he said it couldn’t be fixed as the locket is composed of two different metals. He said he would end up melting the gold on the outside of the locket if he attempted to… Read more »