How To: Restore art deco rings


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June 27, 2012

Q. I would like to have an appraisal of a few vintage rings, mainly from the art deco era. One ring also needs repair, and I’d like to find out what the service mark “RoR” stands for. About how much does it usually cost for a jewelry appraisal? Do you have a recommendation for someone who could safely repair a 100-year-old ring in the Washington area?

From the Home Front chat

A. You can get both an appraisal and a repair through Solovey Jewelers in McLean (703-356-0138, www.solovey.com). The appraisals are done on site by Jeff Allinson of Accredited Jewelry Apppraisers. The shop employs a goldsmith who handles repairs and makes custom pieces. Solovey has been specializing in vintage and estate jewelry for 35 years, so the goldsmith has worked on more than a few art deco pieces. However, store owner Traci K. Solovey says she doesn’t know what the RoR stands for, other than suspecting it may be a maker’s mark.

I have a window in my guest-room shower. Paint on the window ledge is peeling because it gets wet every time someone showers. Is there a special paint I can use to protect the ledge? Other ideas?

From the Home Front chat

Windows in showers can be a recipe for disaster. Although you see the peeling paint, there’s a good chance water is also getting between pieces of the window trim and also wicking up under the ledge, into the wall. Over time, this moisture can rot out framing in the wall and even leak down and soften the floor framing, resulting in expensive repairs. To check whether damage has occurred, consider calling a home inspector with a professional-caliber moisture meter that can read through shower walls.

You might want to cover the window with a curtain that blocks moisture and extends slightly lower than the ledge. Close the curtain when someone is showering and open it afterward to provide ventilation around the window area.

With this routine in place, you can then scrape off the peeling paint, scuff-sand, prime and repaint — using paint as a decorative treatment, but not as a water barrier.

I have my grandparents’ wedding certificate from 1907. It has been rolled up for years. I would like to get it professionally unrolled and framed in an acid-free frame as well as restored due to some spots. It is approximately 15 by 20 inches. Where can I go to get this done for a reasonable price?

Springfield

You need help from a paper conservator, not just a frame shop. A paper conservator will know how to unroll the document, treat the spots and flatten it without causing the paper to crack. Calling in a specialist is particularly important because its age suggests that the paper might be of poor quality, according to Christine Smith, a paper conservator in Alexandria (703-960-1271, chahana_art@verizon.net).

Stephen Collins of Brierwood Consultants in Alexandria (703-799-2577, brierwood@cox.net), a paper conservator who in the past managed three frame shops, agreed. “There are definitely different methods that a conservator would use rather than what most framemakers do,” he said. For example, a frame shop might just unroll the document, or even try to iron it flat or attach it to a stiff backing. A conservator would clean it (after determining the type of ink) and use humidity and gentle pressure to relax the paper fibers and flatten the sheet. A frame shop might use mylar to separate a mat from a frame. A conservator would use rag mat board and other archival-quality products.

Paper conservators often charge $50 to $75 an hour, Collins said. He estimated that cleaning and flattening a document like yours might take an hour or two, though treating the spots or repairing damage would take more time. Framing with quality materials could cost around $200. The American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works offers a “find a conservator” feature at www.conservation-us.org. Within 20 miles of your town, the list includes 16 paper conservators who work on unbound documents.

Have a problem in your home? Send questions to localliving@washpost.com . Put “How To” in the subject line, tell us where you live and try to include a photo.

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