Help With Jewelry Party Returns Due to Breakage!

by Janine.
(Massachusetts, USA)

I did a home jewelry party a few weeks ago and it was a great success but my fears have come true, 3 items have been returned due to wire or clasp breaking.

I make sure my crimps are strong, spend good $$ on clasps and wire, I am wondering if this is normal??

I sold about 40 items. Most returns were breakage by jump rings or wire. I use multiple cable wire and double that up too.

I happily fix all jewelry for my customers and insert a hand written apology.

Is this normal? What else can I do to prevent this?

I have a care card in every order and other items that break sometimes are my polymer clay beads. I cannot prevent all of them from breaking since some soaps or temperatures cause breakage but it is stated in my care cards.

Any advice is greatly appreciated. Rena you always give the best advice. Thanks!

Janine

Comments:

Jewelry Breakage
by: Rena

Hi Janine,

I can imagine how distressing these returns must be, especially so soon after your great jewelry party!

First, let’s see if we can diagnose whether your jewelry might have any structural issues. You may have already thought of these things, but let’s take a look at them anyway:

1) If the beading wire is breaking, is it possible that some of your beads or other components have sharp edges around the hole that could be cutting through the wire? I once created and sold a disastrous line of stretch bracelets that broke because the gemstone bead edges were slicing through the stretch cord. It was very traumatic for me, so that’s why I thought of sharp bead edges first!

2) When you mentioned “breakage by jump rings” – are the jump rings coming open (which could be avoided by using split rings), or is that a common point where the beading wire breaks (which could mean sharp edges on the jump rings or crimp beads)?

3) If your clasps are breaking, you may need a more heavy-duty clasp for bracelets. Jewelry that’s worn on or near the hands takes the biggest beating during wearing, and bracelets often wind up being tugged or pulled in damaging ways in ordinary wear. So a more robust clasp may be something to investigate.

4) You mentioned using double wire, but do you also use double crimp beads? I had a few bracelets and necklaces come apart when the crimp beads somehow failed, and since then I’ve always used two crimp beads right next to each other, instead of just one. Especially since you’re using double wire, if you’re using just one crimp bead at each end of your jewelry, possibly the double wire is more than one crimp bead can anchor securely?

5) Is it possible that you may be clipping off your beading wire ends so close to the crimp bead that the crimp can’t hold the wire securely? I try to leave a beading wire “tail” of a few inches after securing the crimp beads, and then thread that tail back through the first few beads to hide it.

6) Do you have and wear any of the types of pieces that have been breaking? It might be a good idea wear a similar piece every day for a week or two and really put it through its paces – tug on it a bit, and treat it as most people might throughout an ordinary day. This is a good way to pinpoint any “weak links” in the structure of a jewelry design.

Now, regarding customer care when jewelry breaks:

I think you’re doing an excellent job of preserving your professional reputation by responding immediately and repairing pieces right away. And especially by including the lovely handwritten note. That’s exactly the right thing to do. You’re showing that you care about your customers and that quality is a priority for you.

Nothing is worse than a slow or canned response when a customer has any issues related to your jewelry business!

Another touch that can soothe any ruffled feathers customers may have is to include an unexpected free gift, such as a pair of earrings, when you deliver the repaired piece of jewelry.

Your care cards that accompany your jewelry are also a great idea, since many people who love to wear jewelry aren’t sure how to store it, clean it, or make it last longer.

Don’t lose heart, Janine! I know people love your work since it sold so well at your jewelry party. You just need to diagnose and fix the cause of the jewelry breakage – then continue creating your art and connecting with the people who love it!

Response to Breakage
by: pamgstudio.etsy.com

Hi Janine,

First of all congratulations on the success of your jewelry party! That is something I would love to do in the near future.
As a fellow jewelry designer, I am always a bit nervous about the quality and strength of my pieces. The fear of a customer returning a piece because of breakage is real, however you seem to have a great response to the problem. I agree with Rena about using a stronger jump ring or split ring.
Something that I have made in the place of a jump or split ring is I cut a piece of strong wire about 3 to 4 inches long, bend one side of the wire all the way over like and S with the end of the S touching the middle of the wire, take the other end and bend it all the way over to the middle of the wire with it being a little longer than the other side and wrap or loop the longer part around the middle of the S securing the wire together. So in the end it looks like the number 8 with a wrapping loop in the middle of it. But remember to connect your pieces together before you loop your wire around.
These are pretty easy to make and lends well to a
handcrafted look. Believe me, NOTHING will come out of this because there are no open spaces.Let me know if you want me to send you a diagram.
Good Luck Janine and let me know how this works!
Thanks Rena!

Thanks
by: Janine Gerade

Thanks Rena and Pam for your advice. I am ordering split rings and I am going to make a figure 8 connector asap! Ill let you know how it all works out.

Help! Broken Necklace due to weak Glue
by: R S B

Hello All, I’m a passionate but new jewelry designer. Embarrassed & surprised at a very small home showing, a client dropped my necklace on a hard wood floor and it breaks! The necklace was composed of sea glass cold-bonded to a metal charm. If you could, please give me your recommendation/advise on what type of cold-bond glue or cement to use on all types of jewelry findings. Thank you sooo much in advance.

Hi
by: Janine Gerade

I think a 2 part epoxy would be best- anyone else have ideas?

quality control
by: Rae

I have been designing jewelry for seven years and have not had any returns for breakage except for wear and tear over a period of many months of daily use. I began my bead experience after working at a bead store. I was lucky to have that experience because the owner was very knowledgable and shared her information with me.

One of the main considerations when looking at new products was quality. We selected vendors who did their own quality control. Not all crimp beads are created equal. Many customers learning beading in our shop would come in complaining about their crimp beads breaking. It always turned out that they had tried to save money and bought crimp beads online instead of from the shop. The difference was really insignificant when talking about 100 crimps to a package and in the long run cost them more, especially if they lost a special bead or made a poor impression on a customer. The same was true about about beading wire.

As far as jump rings, I never use them unless the piece is large enough to support a very heavy gauge wire because they will pull apart…you can count on it. Use split rings and be safe.

A tip for using split rings…attach at least one half of your clasp with a split ring. Then, if you need to enlarge a piece for a customer it’s very easy to add a ring or two while they wait. They are very impressed and you don’t have to mail it after the show.

Rae McAlpin
Hearthstone Creations, LLC

Re: Help with returns
by: Dresie Designs

I have a few tips that may help.

I use Snapeez jump rings. I have never had a problem with them breaking. They are very secure and they click/snap closed. They don’t pull apart.

Another helpful thing would be to use wire guardians. They slip over the wire and keep it from fraying.

I also like to use 2 crimp beads and crimp covers. It makes jewelry more secure and gives a more professional look.

In addition, make sure you are using the right thickness of wire with the right beads. Heavy beads require stonger wire.

I hope this helps. Good luck!

Regards,

Angie Dresie
Dresie Designs

Wear & Tear
by: Anonymous

I also use split rings at the ends of necklaces and bracelets where there will be tugging and catching on clothing and other things. I haven’t had a return yet (knock-on-wood!). I make sure to tell my customers that my jewelry is guaranteed and make sure they have my card to contact me in the event of a problem.

I did have an upset customer return parts of a pair of earrings that she accidentally put through the washer and dryer! She said she wore the earrings daily and was heartbroken when she discovered what had happened. I was amazed that the pieces I got back held together as well as they did. Of course, I re-created the earrings from new materials and created a medallion necklace from all the earring pieces, so now she has a necklace to match her earrings. She was so thrilled when she got everything, she ordered a bracelet to match!

Good customer service is not only the right thing to do when you sell jewelry — it can lead to more sales than you could ever imagine!

No more breakage!
by: Dianne

Split rings…love those. I also double crimp my bracelets and necklaces in this way:
bead the piece then add a crimp, a bead from your design another crimp and then I always, always use those little horseshoe shaped wire protectors. Fire Mountain has them (wire guardians) in base metals but I use the sterling and gold filled. Since I have been doing this, 3 years now I have never had a return.

An embarrassing happening
by: Judith

I sympathize! I donated a bracelet that I made to a local charity auction. It was a two-day silent auction so people could actually pick up the items and even try them on before placing a bid on a bid sheet. The bracelet was drawing a lot of attention and bids were climbing. Then the worst happened. It broke! Luckily, one of the organizers is a friend and she called me right away. I live close by and was able to run over, grab the bracelet and rush home to fix it. The problem was a burr on one of the metal beads that had cut through the beading wire! I carefully checked all the beads before re-stringing the bracelet and then raced it back to the auction. It ended up selling for a good price for the charity and I was so relieved that I had the chance to fix it! What a fright!

crimps not holding
by: Joy

A tip I have learned is, to check when getting ready to crimp is to make sure that your beading wire is not crossed. They need to lay side by side or the crimp doesn’t hold as well. Since I have been checking this I haven’t had any pieces returned because the crimp gave out.

Joy
www.jewelrybyjoy.artfire.com

Thanks for the advice!
by: KidsTeamSpirit

Thank you all for the advice! I just opened my e-business (www.KidsTeamSpirit.com) and am just starting out. I will definitely be taking the advice to heart and will place my order for split rings and begin double crimping ASAP!

I have yet to have a sale yet, since being so new, but I want to prevent as many returns as possible.

Any suggestions as to what to put on a care card?

Thank you all!
Barb Spangler
www.KidsTeamSpirit.com
Express your team spirit w/ our custom jewelry/accessories!

Help with Jewellery Breakage
by: Hay Creations Jewellery

Great suggestions & ideas so far.
Just wanted to add that if your jump rings are coming apart & you don’t have split rings, you could use 2 jump rings instead of one for added strength.

On polymer clay beads breaking…
by: Anonymous

You mentioned that sometimes your polymer clay beads break too. You might already be doing this, but just in case… Get an oven thermometer and insert it in the oven with the beads, this way you can make sure your oven is heating at the required temperature, and time it once it reaches this point. It the temperature is not right to what the manufacturer specified, it will not bond properly. Many ovens do not have accurate thermostats. Secondly, many beads will break at the thinnest point, make sure that you have even thickness throughout the bead. Keep up the good work!

Glenda

Beautiful Jewelry by Glenda Munguia
http://web.me.com/glenda.munguia/bj

Stronger materials
by: Lisa W.

You have gotten some great advice here so far! You haven’t been specific about what beading wire you are using, how you are using the jump rings, and what kinds of jewelry you are making, but it sounds to me as though you may want to consider stronger materials all around.

One respondent mentioned considering stronger beading wire, and I agree. there are a few things that can cut through multi-strand wire, but if you are using a good quality 49-strand wire in an appropriate thickness, you should be OK. See what other thicknesses you can find, or consider trying a different brand with the strength you need. I never found the need to double up, so my wire choice must have been right for the beads I used.

I also never double crimped (although it sounds like a fine idea), and rarely had a problem, but I HAVE received an occasional batch of bad crimps. I thought it was me, until I realized how frequently things were coming apart, before they ever left my studio. Rio replaced them for me with no hesitation, mentioning they had received several calls about a batch of bad crimps. So look for good quality crimps that are appropriate for the size wire you choose. If you are using bead crimps now, you might try shifting to tube crimps, they are much stronger.

Jump rings – when I used to bead, I hated them, they were never strong enough. Now that I do mainly metal work, I have no problems with jump rings, but I usually make my own, or I buy them in much heavier gauges than bead sources may sell them in. I will happily use 16 ga jmp rings with no concern that they will give way. They won’t, unless you do something unusual, like hang from a window by one! Anything thinner should either be soldered closed (I used to buy them that way, and wrap my wrapped loops or bead wire around them), or doubled or tripled up. Triple is the best bet, they look better in 3s than 2s, and the strength is greatly increased. Lots of bead shops and sites sell 20 ga jump rings, these are too flimsy to be structural elements unless they are soldered or used in multiples. find out the thickness of the wire used, and get a conversion chart for B&S gauge, so you will always know what gauge you are buying.

Jump rings never worked for me if I was using fine, thin materials like 22 and 24 ga wire. I learned to make wrapped loops instead, a version of what one of your other respondents suggested. There was never an opening though which a wire could slip. There are directions for wrapped loops all over the web if you don’t know how to do it. Just one wrap will secure the wire, and It will never come off. I have earrings made this way that I bought at a craft show 25 years ago, and they are still going strong!

You are doing the right thing by trying to improve the quality of your pieces, and you won’t be sorry for the learning curve. Go for extra strong materials, and price to cover the cost. It’s worth it!

Wow!
by: Janine

What a response! You are all very nice to stop and help me here. If you want to see more of my work it’s at www.janinedesign.com. The bracelet that came apart is the Swarovski crystal (4mm to 8mm) wired with silver beads. I use tube crimps too and the wire I am using now is Soft Flex 49 strand. I don’t think this wire is the culprit since some things I am selling are from last year -so I forget what I used then. Doubling up those rings and wire guards are all great tips. Thank you. One quick thing- anyone have chipping on their Swarovski Crystals when they are on bracelet worn for a while?

Swarovski beads bumping each other
by: Stefanie

Hello 🙂

The best way to avoid beads wreaking havoc on each other is something in between each one, and just the slightest bit of relax (not quite slack… Just “relax”) in the beading medium. If it’s pulled TOO tight you can almost guarantee problems. Swarovski now makes their own clear bead spacers, although mine haven’t come in yet. I believe someone like Beadalon also makes them…. “Bead Bumpers” maybe? Teeny & invisible, try will also help a lot.

You may also want to check that there’s enough room to grasp the clasp ends to work the clasp… If it’s too tight, whatever you have there just gets too beat up with the struggle to open and close it, or it gets pulled too much. Usually big beads with no finger room are the culprit there!

Wrapped Loops
by: Valerie

Wrapped loops work extremely well. I stopped using split and open jump rings once I learned to wrap loops. I also stopped using eyepins for earrings and just wrap the headpins or wire. A few others also mentioned this. Wrapped loops also give the jewelery a nice handcrafted look.

Valerie Costa
The Costa Collection
http://www.artfire.com/users/TheCostaCollection

It Happened to me too
by: D’s Beadz

I don’t do in home jewelery shows, but I do a number of Craft Fairs. I also sell on consignment and I let each shop owner know my policy and make sure they have a supply of my cards, along with tags on each piece of mine so if there is a repair needed they can contact me. The first time a customer brought back a piece of jewelry (I think it was a lost jump ring)I was mortified! How embarassing.Even though I take as much care as I can and check every piece (we are only human). I think you are doing the right thing. Accidents happen-I offer repair on all my pieces except for abuse-little Johnny tugging on a necklace-you can see pretty much what happened. I do the same thing-take the piece back, repair it and offer an apology. Lets face it, buying directly from the maker has advantages, if you purchased a piece from a dept. store for example, you’d probably be out of luck. I explain to each customer my guarantee and make sure they have my business card so they can contact me at any time should they have a problem. So far, so good.

broken jewelry
by: Bobbie

This has happened to me in the past and all you can do is repair the piece and apologize. Now I make absolutely sure my crimps and clasps are securing by gluing the beadwire before squeezing the crimp on it. This one step has made a trmendous difference. I also tell people not to hang necklaces but to lie them down to avoid stretching the wire. Hope this helps.

Jump Rings and Wire Breakage
by: Mermaid’s Purse

This is part of the learning and experimenting process of this business. I have encountered this a few times also. My discovery was two fold: use thicker gauge jump rings and wire (it is stronger) and be sure the when opening jump rings open by twisting side to side..don’t pull apart. Check all clasps before adding to your piece…there have been times when several in a package were faulty. Good luck!

Fair Winds and Calm Seas,
Deborah Leon
www.mermaidspurseseaglass.com

On a related topic . . .
by: Rena

Be sure to see “part 2” of this discussion, in When Jewelry Components Break – Advice Please – where we discuss what to do when components are faulty.

wire breakage
by: trey

I have used beadalon 49 strand .018 for years and just last year and more recently, the wire started breaking. I usually make a piece and wear it exclusively for wear and tear concerns. I noticed that the pieces that are returned appears to be a bit rusty where the wire breaks. I give care advice with my pieces, but it appears the the pieces might be worn while bathing or something…It is a bit disconcerting, as it makes me think that my pieces are not quite good enough. I make simply pieces that are mostly unisex and a tad bit ethnic…I want great wire. I do not know what to do now…Please help. I always use crimp tube beads with no problem breaking near the crimp. Any advice is greatly appreciated. Thank You. Please take a look at some of my simple pieces and tell me what you think. www.kollisdesign.com
Happy Beading!!!

Breaking chains/jump rings
by: Anonymous

Hi,

I have to say after reading all the comments about breaking jewelry I feel slightly better….well, not really. I feel awful (and sick to my stomach actually) that 4 of my necklaces broke in a new boutique that just started carrying them. I am using vintage brooches and making necklaces with them. I really think I need better quality materials. Can anyone recommend good sites to get quality chains/clasps/jump rings? Should I be looking for something specific? I am very new to this all. I prefer the antique look.

My designs have gotten good feedback but I am not sure I have the stomach for returns. I feel very embarrassed…

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

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