Hollow Gold Chains Save You Money - Unless They Need To Be Repaired April 13, 2024 15:00

We have been repairing fine jewelry in Lowell since 2002. Julie and Jere are very good at what they do. One of the most frequent repairs we have are broken gold chains - yellow, white, and occasionally rose gold. Babies and dogs like to break them - :-).

When we opened gold was trading at about $395 per ounce. As I type this post, gold is at $2,342 an ounce - that means the price of gold has gone up almost SIX TIMES since we opened. Simple, lighter weight solid chains that used to sell for $50-$60 are now over $200. The price of rope chains, and many other common links, really boil down to the amount of gold used in them. In an effort to lower costs, many manufacturers are producing and selling hollowed out chains. They look similar to their solid relatives in size, but they are hollowed out to save gold weight. 

The chain below looks like a big, burly Mister T starter set kind of chain, but in reality all those curving links are hollowed out and full of air. If you break a chain like this, especially in the middle of the chain, good luck finding anyone who can repair it or who can repair it so it doesn't look terrible.

NOTE: For the purpose of this post, "hollow chains" refer to chains, bracelets, or anklets. Chains are the most common, but we get bracelets in regularly and the occasional anklet. 

Saving weight on gold jewelry is nothing new, but the proliferation of hollow chains is worth mentioning because when someone breaks a gold chain costing hundreds of dollars they expect to be able to get it repaired. I might even go a little further and say that a lot of the hollow chains we are seeing lately are MORE hollow than they used to be. Gold chains are repaired by soldering the broken parts together with a torch (like the picture), or using a pulse or laser welder.


The problem with hollow chains is that once you heat them up enough to get the gold solder to flow and effect the repair, the chain just starts melting away from the heat source. Julie and Jere use torches like you see above. With a hollow chain, the gold melts away from the flame making a solid connection impossible or next to impossible. (Laser welders do not produce heat like a torch does, but we have a friend with a laser welder and he will not work on hollow chains any more either.) 

We warranty our repairs and we are proud of our reputation for doing good work. Otherwise, we probably would not be here after two decades! Some hollow chains cannot be soldered at all - some can be fixed like in the picture below, but you can clearly see that repair is NOT going to last. The first time the chain catches on something, that repair is going to let go.

I am posting this information because we are seeing more and more people come into the shop with broken hollow chains they want repaired and they leave disappointed almost every time. We just did a repair on one that was picked up today, but it had broken at the end and Julie was able to solder a new jump ring on the end. But for every one hollow chain we can repair, we probably turn away a half dozen or more that will just melt into a blob. 

What is the answer? Well, the first advice I would give if you are buying a gold chain online is to ask if it is hollow or not. Before you buy it, make sure you can get a full refund if you return it. That way once you get it, you can take it into a jewelry store to see if it is hollow and can ever be repaired. If you are on vacation, follow the same protocol. Ask if it is hollow and if it can be returned for a full refund once you get home and have it checked out.

If you are doing business with us - we will tell you right up front about the durability of a chain, bracelet, or anklet you buy from us. Another way to beat the high price of gold is to shop our Estate case where gently used jewelry can be bought for a fraction of the price of new. We recently sold a solid, heavy 18kt gold Byzantine link chain for about 1/3 of what it would cost new.