Just the other day, we got another call from a customer who said his diploma had turned yellow and was speckled with brown spots. How did this happen? This question arises occasionally, so here is a bit more about why it happens and what you can do about it. Typically, problems like yellowing and brown spots are caused by age and acidity. What we’ve seen quite often with older diplomas is that they weren’t printed on acid-free paper. So over time, the acidic content creates a brittle, yellowed diploma. The good news is that in the past two decades, most diplomas have been printed on acid-free stock. However, even acid-free paper that has been improperly framed, exposed to extreme heat or humidity, or stored in contact with non-pH neutral materials can be damaged.
You have a couple of choices if your diploma is damaged. If the damage is significant, the most cost-effective approach is likely to contact your college or university to request a replacement diploma. To do this, locate your school’s website and call or email the Registrar’s Office, as this department most often handles replacement diploma requests. You may even be able to search for your school name + “replacement diploma” and go directly to a site with more details. For example, the University of Pennsylvania and the University of California at Berkeley have great direct links to request a replacement diploma due to damage or a name change. There are some typical requirements in obtaining a replacement diploma. You’ll need to provide proof of identity and may be asked to return the damaged diploma. There will be a fee for the replacement document, typically around $50-$100.
If you’re attached to your original diploma and don’t want to settle for a replacement, you’ll need to enlist the help of a conservator who can professionally repair the document for you. Conservators specialize in the preservation and restoration of fine art and historic documents. They have the skills to do the job right, but their services can be costly. For a referral to a licensed conservator in your area, submit an online request to the American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works (AIC). Be sure to specify “books and paper” in your search field and make sure the conservator lists “unbound documents” in his or her list of specialties.
Lucie Voves is the President, Founder and CEO of Church Hill Classics/diplomaframe.com.