Are broken antiques worth fixing? Find out from the experts!

Cleaning your house for the 4th time during Covid-19

Most antiques and collectibles, especially those handed down through multiple generations, have minor or even major defects – or as they say on the Antiques Roadshow “condition issues”. The important question is – are they worth fixing?

The crucial factor in the decision to fix or not to fix is the degree of personal attachment that you have for the broken object. An extreme degree of remorse is caused when you break a family heirloom – especially if it was a gift or was handed down by a loved one. The best way to assuage this guilt and remorse is to have the item expertly restored.

A secondary factor is financial: will the increase in value of the object more than pay for the cost of restoration?

Our experience is that the sentimental factor is far more important than the financial considerations. Many people will restore a completely valueless object if it was given to them by their beloved grandmother.

The unfortunate fact is that most antiques will lose all or part of their value if they are damaged. As the saying goes “condition is everything”. However, there are some categories of collectibles where expert repairs can restore most of the value and this post will explain.

Table of contents

The Philosophical Justification for Repair

Feng Shui has a lot of wise things to say about harmonious living, and this advice is well worth heeding:

Feng Shui Icon

According to Feng Shui

“broken things have no place in your home: either fix them or get rid of them soon –
they will cause a loss of energy”

Sentimental items

Sentimental items include souvenirs of memorable vacations or family events, wedding flutes, paintings, family china and crystal, and other belongings passed down through the generations. Follow this link to learn about sentimental items

Utilitarian items

If the broken items have no real sentimental value, the decision to repair depends essentially on whether the cost of the restoration is less than the monetary value of the restored object. Read this post to learn all about the viability of repairing.

Inexpensive Glassware

Cheap pyrex kitchen bowls or Mexican drinking glasses are seldom worth fixing because the cost of grinding and polishing a chip is much more than the value of the glassware

Inexpensive glass bowl and drinking glass with chips
Hard glass (unlike lead crystal) is time-consuming to grind and polish – making this type of repair uneconomical

A Painful Lesson

Never lend a valuable punch bowl to a neighbor for a party – you will lose a friend and a family heirloom. Crystal is very easy to chip by careless handling! It is also easy to break by thermal shock – never rinse with hot water immediately after emptying out the ice-cold contents -the bowl will crack!

American Cut Crystal Punch Bowl
1890-era American Brilliant Cut Crystal punch bowl. The delicate “crenellated” rims are easily damaged – value around $1500.00

China dinnerware – changing fashions

A source of great disappointment for many baby boomers is the lack of affection shown by their children and grandchildren towards their cherished family china and crystal. Millennials prefer experiences to objects and many use disposable plastic rather than china plates.

Paper Plates and Plastic cutlery
Plastic or paper plates are the tableware of choice for many Millennials

China dinnerware

The change of fashion away from formal dinnerware means that complete china sets are now available on eBay and Craig’s list at very modest prices. So, unless the china has sentimental value it is not worth repairing

Repaired dinnerware cannot be used for dining

Our restored china & porcelain can only be used for decorative purposes! This is because the adhesive and paint cannot be fired in a kiln and will eventually stain and discolor with use.

Meissen dinner plate - Blue Onion Pattern
Stress break in Meissen “Blue Onion” dinner plate – replacement available online for around $50.00

If you need to replace a broken dinner plate – try Replacements

As noted above – our repaired china is for display only – so for dinner plates that you can use check the link below – Replacements has an enormous inventory.

Knowledge is Power!

If your figurine is not sentimental to you –investigate its rarity (consult an expert appraiser if necessary) to decide whether it is worth restoring. The value will be less than that of a mint example but a professional restoration is well worthwhile.

Hummel Figurines left worth $1.00 right worth $1000.00
Hummel figurines: left – a recent example worth about $5.00. Right – a rare example from 1979 (TMK-6) – sold in 2020 on eBay for $1005.00

Waterford & Baccarat crystal are worth repairing

Fine crystal stemware and barware from makers like Waterford, Baccarat, Orrefors & others is definitely worth fixing because the retail and even replacement prices approach $100.00. Chips are expertly ground and polished leaving the glass slightly shorter than the original.

Repairing a chip in Waterford crystal
Chip in the rim of a Lismore Pattern Waterford Crystal wine glass – can be ground and polished – providing there is no crack.

My wife (and I) were astounded at the quality of your repair work on the broken nativity ceramic! If you didn’t know it had been broken, you’d never know! You and your staff are truly fine, accomplished craftspeople!” Rich Pfisterer, Tucson, AZ.

What Materials Can We Repair?

Answer: pretty much everything

Instructions for broken sentimental items

To find out if your item is repairable:

Call Artistry in Glass and describe your broken items. If necessary we may ask you to email images to us: take an overall view of the object and detailed shots of the damage ideally with a ruler or object for scale. Use a plain white background (or a dark background if the object is white). Send medium-sized images (<1 Mb) if you know how to choose the file size.

Follow this link for contact information

Upon receipt of your images, we will let you know our expert diagnosis: either the object can be fixed, cannot be fixed, or maybe (you will have to bring it in to find out).

Price of your repair

We cannot give firm restoration prices from photos because we need to hold the damaged item in our hands and make a careful examination to determine the degree of perfection that can be achieved. The problem is that if there turns out to be a missing fragment the repair may be more difficult than anticipated and the result less perfect.

Pack your items carefully

and bring them into our mid-town studio. Do not attempt to glue them yourself – it will cost more because we will have to remove the adhesive.

At Artistry in Glass, we are very friendly and will give you our honest appraisal as to whether the piece is worth repairing or whether you can more easily obtain a replacement online.

How long? … normally 3 to 5 weeks

Restoration time depends on the complexity of the job. Complete restoration can take from 2 to 5 weeks. To polish a chip from a vase or wine glass may be done in a week. Please do not call us constantly on the progress of your project: we will contact you when the job is done.

More information on pricing.


It is very bad karma to hang on to broken items in your home. They bring unhappy and remorseful feelings. Solve the problem by contacting Artistry in Glass – at 520-320-0104

“Thank you!! My Murano bowl looks amazing!! I appreciate your expertise in the repair. Words alone cannot express how pleased I am to have my Mother’s bowl to enjoy every day!! Thank you again.” Karen Duncan, Oro Valley AZ

More information on pricing.

Artistry in Glass: expert repair since 1986

Artistry in Glass is your source for antique repair in Tucson

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I was an exploration geologist and University Professor working in Botswana, Zambia, Brazil, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, Portugal, and other countries before opening Artistry in Glass in 1986. In my more than 35 years of experience, I have brought my technical abilities as a scientist to the trade of glasswork. During this time I have become an industry expert in glass and glass-related skills. Watch out for special insider tips developed from my detailed knowledge of the glass business.

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