Inlaid gemstones are a beautiful alternative to stones that are set using traditional mounting techniques. But how is inlay jewelry actually made, and what should you watch out for when wearing it? Let’s see whether this type of jewelry is a good buy and how you should care for it.
What Is Inlay Jewelry?
Inlay jewelry is made by inserting gemstones in specifically designed channels carved into the piece.
The shape of these channels matches the form of the gemstones mounted, which are usually held in place by using glue.
As a result, jewelry with inlaid gemstones doesn’t have prongs or any other means of keeping stones attached to the piece.
Issue #1: Inlaid Stones Are Vulnerable
One of the downsides of inlay jewelry is that its stones are easy to damage.
Since there are no prongs or other mounting elements that can serve as protection, the gemstones in the setting are exposed to hits and bumps.
That’s why you should be extra careful not to hit your stone directly or it may break easily.
Replacing Inlaid Gems
What can be done when an inlaid stone is broken?
You can always have it replaced, but there’s a catch: The new gemstone has to be shaped exactly as the broken one so as to fit in the inlay channel.
Needless to say, having a jeweler cut a stone in a custom shape can cost you a good amount of money, and the new gemstone may not fit perfectly.
Issue #2: Inlaid Gemstones Can Come Off
Another potential problem with inlaid stones is that they can fall off the piece they are set in.
Sure, there is glue that is holding them, and at the beginning, it does the job perfectly. However, with time, the glue gets old and may not hold the stones well. A stronger bump may make one or more of your gemstones fall off.
This is why you need to check regularly whether your inlaid stones are loose and have them fixed timely.
Warning: Keep Inlay Jewelry Away from Ultrasonic Cleaners
You should be careful not to put inlaid jewelry in an ultrasonic cleaner as the ultrasound used to clean the stones may be detrimental to the glue holding them.
Also remember not to expose your inlaid stones to extreme heat, which can break down the glue.
Issue #3: Inlay Rings Are Hard to Resize
If you have an inlaid ring, you should know that resizing it may prove to be tricky. Since sizing a ring up or down often involves bending the band, this deformation may cause the stones to crack or fall off.
The usual way to resize such rings is to bend only the lower portion of the band, where there are no stones, making the ring slightly oval.
Another option is to remove the gemstones, resize the ring, and glue the stones back in. However, there is always the possibility that the channels may get deformed and the stones may not fit as well as they did before the resizing.
Because of all these complications, inlay rings can usually be resized no more than one size up or down.
Should You Buy Inlay Jewelry?
After reading about so many things that can go wrong with inlay jewelry, you may feel wary of buying it. Don’t. We by no means want to dissuade you from enjoying inlaid gemstones; our goal is simply to let you know what you should be careful about.
So, if you like inlaid jewelry, by all means go for it. Just remember to protect it from direct hits, check regularly for loose stones and have them reglued timely, and clean it by hand, staying away from ultrasonic cleaners.