Q: How do I know if something is really worth getting repaired?
A: Tough question. “Worth” in what way? The only good answer to the question would have be given on a case-by-case basis. From a strictly financial point of view, many people adhere to the 50% principle. If the cost to repair exceeds 50% of the price an item was purchased for, forget it — but this is completely arbitrary, and besides, the law of averages dictates that at least half the time, following this rule will lead to an unfavorable result. (It you don’t fix it, what are you going to do with it?)
You can also consider value “as is.” A broken piece of costume jewelry may have no value in any sense of the word, but a broken gold bracelet will still have a certain amount of value if sold to a jeweler for its gold content. For sure, there are many variables, such as factoring in a sentimental value, or the value you would put on a one-of-a-kind item that cannot be replaced at any price. Sometimes there is an inherent weakness or defect in something, which will require an unending series of repairs in the future, so past a point, it’s simply not worth the continued expense. On many occasions, I have heard a certain local jeweler answer the question about whether something is “worth” repairing by asking, “How much do you like the piece?” and telling the customer that if it’s something they really enjoy, or have an emotional attachment to, the cost of a repair should not be judged strictly by what had been paid for the item, or by its current “value.”
People will sometimes spend many times the cost of replacing an item simply because of its history. I once witnessed a gentleman give a jeweler the OK to repair a chipped synthetic centerstone in a man’s ring that had belonged to his grandfather. This involved ruining the gold bezel that surrounded the damaged synthetic ruby and held it in place, so that the stone could then be removed carefully without further damage. The stone would then have to be recut, resulting in a slightly smaller overall measurement — which would necessitate that a new, heavier bezel be created and installed in order to allow the newly reconfigured stone to be reset. (The jeweler’s recommendation was that the original stone be simply broken out of the ring without causing damage to the bezel, and that a new, identical stone be supplied and set without much difficulty.) The cost for what the jeweler recommended would have been around $50 at the time, but the complete recut of the original stone (the value of which was only about $20), repair and resetting came close to $200. The customer went for the $200 repair.
On many occasions, I have seen people pay to have old mechanical timepieces (of no particular value at all) repaired, because the watch or clock had sentimental value of some kind. Is a repair like that “worth” it? It’s not for me to decide.
Joe Brandt is a local resident and president of J.L. Brandt Company, offering diversified fine jewelry advisory services to the general public since 1928. Readers are invited to submit questions or comments to [email protected] Names or contact information will not be used for publication, and all inquiries will be answered promptly.