Fire Damaged Jewelry Restoration

Posted on Wednesday, December 20th, 2017 at 12:32 pm by Debbie

The wildfires that are racing through the western states burn at a very high temperature, incinerating homes and almost everything in them. Almost nothing is left but jewelry and ceramics, sometimes china or statues. Finding burnt jewelry in the aftermath seems impossible, but many people find a lot of their jewelry. With the right equipment (heavy boots and gloves, full protective clothing, proper masks, goggles, and a sifter), jewelry is often found. Locating burnt jewelry is easier if your jewelry was in one area of your home on a ground floor, and especially if it was in a “fireproof” safe.  Our experience is that fireproof safes are not fireproof in these fires, but they do protect your jewelry somewhat, especially from melting. Jewelry stored on a second floor takes a bit more searching, while homes built on stilts on a hillside (not on a pad) makes finding jewelry nearly impossible.

Burnt Jewelry Restoration begins at $60, plus return shipping.
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 Damaged Jewelry

Many pieces of burnt jewelry can be refurbished! We've restored hundreds of pieces of charred jewelry. If your jewelry was in a fireproof safe there is an excellent chance we can have it looking like new again, even in these hot fires. Jewelry that was near an exterior wall, or under a collapsed wall, often doesn't get as much heat. Good candidates for refurbishment:

1. High-value jewelry that was charred and/or warped, but not melted
2. Platinum jewelry (melting temperature of 3,215 degrees)
3. Gold rings (because of the thickness of rings compared to other jewelry like earrings and small, thin pendants) 

Refurbishment costs vary, but for example restoration of charred ladies rings begins at $60 each (excluding damage to stones, if any), plus return shipping.

Refurbishment of burnt silver jewelry depends upon the extent of the damage and the sentimental value. Silver jewelry is often more damaged than gold or platinum because it has a lower melting temperature and for some pieces, the refurbishment cost exceeds the value.



Melted Jewelry

There are not a lot of options if your jewelry has melted, but we have a couple of solutions. For partially melted jewelry, we can recreate your jewelry based on what remains of it. You may have photos or can describe the jewelry. Watches in particular do not fare well in these hot fires and are usually beyond repair. For some clients, we have created a bezel for their burnt watch (a white or yellow gold "frame" that encircles the watch) and turned the watch into a pendant.  For other pieces, you may wish to display them in shadow boxes.


Burnt Diamonds

Most people recovering diamonds have the best success finding diamonds when they are set in rings. Rings are thicker and melt more slowly, so they can be easier to find than other jewelry like pendants, for example. Smaller pendants melt and the diamonds fall out, so it takes a good amount of sifting to recover them. People also find diamonds when they were stored in a box or safe.

Some diamonds we’ve seen from these hot fires are absolutely fine. Others are burnt, giving a chalky, frosted appearance. Burnt diamonds look almost like an ice skating rink’s thick white ice. But this damage is only surface deep! We can polish your diamonds and they will look like new. Expect a small amount of weight loss, usually about 3 - 5%, depending upon the depth of the diamond burn.

Diamond repair pricing begins at $320 plus resetting so this is an excellent solution for sentimental or sizable diamonds. Unless these diamonds have important memories for you, burnt small accent diamonds are best kept as mementos as the cost to repair them exceeds the value.


Getting Started

Not sure how to proceed with your damaged jewelry? You are not alone! Please contact us and we’ll advise you on your options.

See our antique jewelry restorations »