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Jason Chandler Brings Estate Piece Back To Life

Memorable repair leads to life-long treasure

When is a repair more than a repair? 

Many jewelers measure it by the challenges involved. This can be particularly true when repairing antique jewelry. Lance Campbell, Lang’s Antiques jeweler, finds himself replacing 100- to 150-year-old design elements assuring that they blend seamlessly. Or the challenge can be sizing a diamond-accented heirloom ring from a size seven to a three and a half. 

Sometimes, the money earned from a repair can put it in a class by itself.  

jason chandler
Jason Chandler, Portland Jewelry Academy

And then you come across a repair with a strong emotional pull requiring skill and sensitivity. This was the case for Jason Chandler when a rare retail customer entered his trade shop. “The Portland Artisan’s Shop is in a retail location,” Jason says, “but it doesn’t look like a store because most of our work comes from jewelry stores. So we don’t see a lot of retail customers.” And when they do come in, they’re looking for a custom design more often than not. 

But on this particular day, a father came in with an unusual request. He brought a sterling silver hamsa pendant  — clearly not an expensive piece. Jason explains, “He and his wife had gone to India and bought the hamsa for their young daughter. It’s a symbol meant to protect the wearer from harm — something we would all wish for our children. It wasn’t exactly tourist jewelry,” Jason says. “I’d say it was a grade above that. But it was for a child and not expected to last forever.”  

hamsa pendant
Google Image

Here, the story takes a tragic turn. Perhaps a year after the little girl received her gift, she died. The grieving father wanted it repaired so he could wear it on a chain in his daughter’s memory. “It wasn’t easy for him to talk about her, so I spent some time with him, and gradually he opened up and shared the story. I have children, so this tugged at my heart, and I wanted to make the piece as worthy of her memory.” 

The challenge was to strengthen it for longevity while maintaining the elegance and beauty of the symbol. And so his work began. 

Most of the marcasite had fallen out, so Jason suggested replacing them with black diamonds. Additionally, Jason suggested replacing the three blue CZs (set in the center three fingers) with aquamarines. He would bezel-set all the tones for security and longevity.  

The silver wasn’t thick enough to support the bezels, so Jason reinforced the back of the hamsa beneath each bezel with a small jump ring, carefully arranging them in a precise pattern.  

Jump rings (JR16:65030) and bezels (20929) 

“When he arrived to get it,” Jason says, “tears came to his eyes. The repair cost much more than the original piece, but I would’ve done the work just to see the look on his face. That was the real reward.”   

Have any of you had a memorable repair? We’d love to hear about it and look for the chance to feature it. 

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Elizabeth Raffel

I've been with Stuller since 2013 • Primarily read books on physics and other sciences • Was blown away by 'Breaking Bad' • I believe no woman can have too many boots or too much jewelry • Been writing professionally longer than I care to admit • Studied tailoring after college.