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Saturday, November 11, 2017

Japanese Akoya salt water pearls.
I apologize for my long absences on here.  Unfortunately I no longer have an assistant so I pretty much have to do everything around here (except keep the books which fortunately I have my wife, Kathy, to do).  Plus it's hard to keep up on all the different social media platforms. (Again:  Please follow me on Instagram.  If you aren't on it, get the app and just follow me if nothing else. Every single piece I make up as a custom job or put out in the cases for sale goes up on Instagram.)


 As it happens the holidays are coming and I am putting out new stock weekly.  I also got my gem shipment from my colored stone dealers who always let me have some wonderful pieces for the holidays. This year I got a number of strands of pearls and beads that were all exceptional in one way or the other.  I got in a strand of black moonstone beads that are pretty astounding.  Also I had a strand of lapis nuggets in which the lapis was the best color I have ever seen in lapis material.  That strand I sold right away but I'm hoping to get a replacement one as I think they had another.  I also got in some beautiful pearl strands, both South Seas, Japanese akoya and freshwater.  So if you'd like to see some interesting stuff it's time to stop in! 

I am going to be re running some of my favorite blog articles for a little while.  I have been writing it for so long that I doubt a lot of my readers see the ones from a few years ago.  So starting next week if you've been a long time reader you may see some things that you remember.

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Seriously: If you don't have any training or time working in the field you're not a jeweler.

18k gold custom ring with a customer's stones.
Okay, so I get it.  It's a really romantic idea to make up the ring you want to propose with yourself.  But the reality is that most people aren't jewelers.  Unfortunately many people now seem to think that doing what I do is really easy, and there isn't much experience necessary.  I'm waiting for the day when we start saying to our surgeons that we want to do the operations on our spouses or kids because it would be really neat if we took care of them ourselves.  All the surgeon would have to do is watch us do the work and help us out a little. 

So this is an email I got awhile ago from a young gentleman:

"I'm looking into making an engagement ring for my girlfriend, and found your website while searching for jewelers in the area. I don't have any DIY experience outside of woodworking and electrical work, so I've been hesitant to really dive in. However, I just talked to somebody who was in a similar position and managed to find a jeweler who was willing to work with him through the process. Is this something that you would be willing to do / have done before?"

Okay, so understand that he has no experience, but he knows someone who did this so it can't be too hard right?  This was my response:


While I appreciate the sentiment, I don’t believe in working with customers this way for a number of reasons. The first is that it’s taken me 40 years to learn what I know and to make jewelry as well as I do. People who think they can just pick up the tools and do what I do tend to be unrealistic.  My employees all come out of an extensive two year school program (North Bennett Street School) and it still takes me about two years to get them up to the level I require (not my level---just the level I need for them to be helping to produce my work).  Secondly I have insurance issues with having people I don’t know in my workshop area.  I routinely work with pieces and gems worth thousands of dollars or even tens of thousands of dollars and I can’t have people wandering in and out of my shop area. And the third and final reason is that I would have to charge you about $500/hour because that’s what an experienced master jeweler’s time is worth. (I could sit with you for an hour or I could make up a ring I could sell for about $5000 and believe me you would need way more than an hour.) 

All that being said I know that there are some jewelers (lower skill levels, less experienced, etc.) who do what you want and I’m sure with a little research on line you can find some.  I have to warn you though that I get in people who’ve tried to make their own stuff and need someone with more experience than their teacher even to fix it.  Good luck with your quest!  

He thanked me and said he would be looking for someone who would do it. 

This is the email I got today:

"I was about to call you but decided to reply to our previous (old) conversation to help with context. I did in fact end up 'making' my fiancee's engagement ring, however I was looking for a jeweler in the area to help with two issues. One of my close friends, Kevin Tabb recommended you very highly (in addition to my own positive experience in the previous emails). 

Issue #1 is that the ring (platinum) needs to be resized. It's a little too big, despite being told she was a size 5.5

Issue #2 is that I didn't fully set the stone (Maine tourmaline). After I finished drilling the seat, it chipped while the jeweler I was working with was checking the prongs before I closed them. Despite being damaged in the process, I still thought the stone looked good enough to propose with. I didn't want to risk shattering the stone and losing that opportunity, so I ended up tightening it as best I could without feeling uncomfortable and gave my fiancee the option of replacing the tourmaline with a new stone.  She has insisted she wants to keep the original stone as long as possible, so I was wondering if you'd be willing to try and finish setting the stone. 

Would you be willing to try to set the tourmaline and resize the ring? I understand there is a significant risk that the stone could be further damaged and know that you can't guarantee that won't happen. If so, how much would those services cost, and how long would it take?"
 
 So let me review a few things:  You are not a jeweler unless you've had actual training in some form in the field and worked in it, no matter how romantic it might seem.  It took me 40 years to get where I am today and I know what I'm talking about.   I'm not really in business to fix your mistakes when you pretended to be a jeweler so it's going to cost a lot for me to fix all of your mistakes (possibly as much as you paid the other jeweler for the "help"). If you want jewelers like me to be around to fix your mistakes you have to buy the jewelry from me to begin with (of course then you won't have to pay for any mistakes because I won't make them!)  

Again, I appreciate the sentiment, but jewelers who agree to do this with customers demean our profession.  And it's demeaning to all jewelers when a customer thinks that it really doesn't take any training or skills to do what we do. 
 

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Think before you take the plunge!!

22k gold custom bracelet
This is why you all really need to think about location and setting before you decide to propose:
https://www.yahoo.com/news/man-falls-death-bridge-proposing-215557264.html. 

Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Conflict Free Diamonds

Boulder opal and ruby earrings
A number of years ago I wrote this post in which I discussed the issue of conflict diamonds and the surrounding uproar.  You might want to read it again before watching the You Tube video that I'm posting here.  In the article I was clear that there is absolutely no way to guarantee where a diamond comes from since any type of tracking method can be worked around if criminals are truly interested in doing so. 

More importantly however is that the reason I'm posting this video is to show that just because a company decides to market themselves as environmentally friendly or conflict free doesn't actually mean that they are. I have long had an issue with this particular company because I know some of their former suppliers and they weren't really doing what they claimed to be doing.  I actually think that they started out with good intentions but I believe they got some significant venture capitalists backing them and in order to satisfy their need for profits they sacrificed their ethical standards because the volume of business required simply cannot be satisfied by the sources they claim to be using.  There are only so many diamonds produced in Canada.   There are only so many unheated, natural color sapphire.  With the amount this company seems to be selling they would pretty much have to have cornered the market on these goods and I can assure you that they haven't. 

So take a few minutes and watch this: