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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

More New Things in for the Holidays

Here are some pictures of some beads I recently got in. The light blue are natural color (unheated) aquamarine crystals:
Light blue rough random shaped beads
Natural color aquamarine crystal beads
These darker blue beads are tumbled tanzanite.  I haven't actually ever seen anything quite like this before in tanzanite:
Blue/purple random shaped tanzanite beads
Tumbled Tanzanite Beads
The pendant below is a new one I just made up with all natural color unheated orange sapphires:
half circle shape with size graduated orange stones on one side and sticks with balls on the other
18k Yellow Gold and Orange Sapphire pendant
That's it for today.  Just wanted to show you some of the new goodies. 

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

On Charging a Fair Price for a Product

18k yellow gold bracelet with looping wire design and bezel set round orange sapphires
18k gold loop de loop bracelet with orange sapphires
I read an interesting article in the paper the other day about how some of the mainstream, larger retail outlets have started teaching their employees how to bargain with their customers.  In other words they were giving them permission to have an ongoing sale all the time basically for anyone who asks for it.  Unfortunately this type of practice leads to a plethora of ethical issues.  First of all it means that everything is basically on sale all the time.  But if something is on sale all the time, then there is no "real" price anymore.  The sale price becomes the real price and it would require further deductions for anything to be considered on sale.  Secondly it's unfair to customers who don't know to ask or are too timid to ask for a discount.  They end up paying more than anyone else is for exactly the same item.  These people also end up supporting the sales prices for the other customers because without some of the people paying full price, the stores couldn't afford to give the discounts they are to the ones who ask for it. Third, and most importantly, it means that most stores will raise their prices to cover the discounts they are being asked for. This is both unethical and again punishes those who can't, or won't, ask for the discount.

My question goes back to one I brought up recently (in this article about the airline industry).  Why is it that we have such a big problem with charging a fair price for a product and sticking with it?  Admittedly a lot of this issue falls on the heads of the retailers out there because they encourage this kind of behavior and we seem to fall for the hype and the idea that we are getting some kind of a "deal".  Unfortunately usually we aren't getting a deal, for a variety of reasons.  Often the retailers simply mark their items up more knowing that they are going to be negotiated down, so it's not really a deal. 

Or sometimes stubbornness on our part may also lead one to think they're getting a deal. I have a very good friend who hates to pay full price for anything (despite the fact that he can afford pretty much anything he wants---in part it might come from when he was a lot poorer).  He told me a story once of spending three hours driving around town to get a better deal on a set of tires.  I think on that search he managed to ultimately save himself a hundred or a hundred and fifty dollars.  Sounds pretty good on a $600 purchase.  But let's say he paid the full price at the first place.  He'd have three hours to do something far more productive with, whether that would be more time at work (where he would get paid), or with his family, or just going to see a movie and relaxing a bit.  Now I know we don't think along exactly the same lines (my idea of a vacation is to go somewhere for awhile and do nothing---his is to go do everything possible in the area he's vacationing in) but in three hours I could have: 1) made up a beautiful new piece of jewelry worth way more than $150 2) caught up on my sleep so that I could actually see straight most of the time, 3) spent some time with my wife doing something we like to do together, or 4) gone out to get some needed exercise thereby increasing my life span a bit.  All of these things are worth far more than the money I would have saved if I had pursued the same exercise in tire purchasing. 

So in my store I believe in putting my pieces out at a fair price for the value you get.  I have an advantage over many retailers in that you can't get my work anywhere else but that doesn't mean that I sell my goods for more than they are worth.  I price it in a way that lets the customer get something of value with stringent warranties, that is creative, made locally, often with recycled materials, allows me to make a modest living, and allows the customer to have something that very few other people have. People know what to expect when they come in my shop and that's exactly the way I like it.

The bracelet at the top is a piece I just put out. It's one of my loop de loop chains but I have added some of the orange sapphires I got from my new German connection that I also got the jellyfish earring carvings from.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Jellyfish Earrings

carved bluish grey moonstone pods with dangling 18k wires and 22k gold caps
22k and 18k gold moonstone "Jellyfish Earrings"
I am now open every day until Christmas so if you want to stop by anytime please do.  My hours are Monday-Friday 11-6, Saturday 11-5 and Sunday 12-5.

The earrings pictured above just went out in the cases yesterday.  In this blog article I talked about my new source from Germany for the drusy moon faces and a few other goodies. Well this pair of bluish gray carved moonstones are some of the other goodies I got from them.  I had altogether different plans for them to begin with but they kept evolving as I spent time with them and this is what I came up with.  I think they're really pretty fun!

"S" Shaped links in 18k yellow gold
18k yellow gold "S" link chain
The chain pictured here is a custom job I just finished up for one of my best customers.  In fact I had made a chain similar to this years ago and you can see it near the end of the YouTube video you can click on at the side of the page here.  He saw that one and decided he needed one too for his wife. 

I also just got in a strand of some beautiful natural color aquamarine crystals that are quite striking as well as a strand of tumbled tanzanite beads that I have never seen anything quite like before.  They are strung up and ready to go.  I hope to get a picture of them up here in a few days.

It's the holidays after all so I'm trying to make sure the cases are stuffed.  And now I'm off to keep working on some more new things I have rolling around in my head.  Look for new pictures later this week.

Oh and one last picture. This was my wife's Christmas present this year with a pink tourmaline and sapphire accents:
She loved it and I can make one just like it for you too!

And as a last minute addition here is the new moon face pendant:

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I'm Churning It Out But It Keeps Selling

Working seven days a week does wonders for my production.  I made this mokume gane pendant on Friday:
diamond shaped pendant in different colors of gold with diamonds
22k, 18k palladium white gold, 18k pink gold and diamonds
It sold on Saturday. 

I also sold my new watermelon tourmaline bracelet on Saturday.  That one looked like this:
Watermelon tourmaline link bracelet in 18k and 22k gold
22k and 18k gold bracelet with watermelon tourmalines
Suzy, if you're reading this I'm sorry but it's gone to a new home. 

And I made these garnet earrings up recently and they've also left the premises.  
triangular purple stones with dangling rectangles with wire and beads in 18k yellow and white gold
18k yellow and white gold earrings with garnets
However this doesn't mean all of the good stuff is gone.  I just made these up in white gold:
18k white gold pendulum style earrings with diamond accents
18k palladium white gold and diamonds

And tomorrow I'm going to have some pictures of another pair of pretty wild, new jellyfish earrings for you.  I'm sorry I have to run and make some more new stuff.  Enjoy!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

The Holidays are Coming and Some General Comments and New Pictures!

Carved moon face in black agate with sparkly drusy
Black Drusy Moon Face
I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving this year.  This is always a fun time of year.  You get to eat a lot and not feel too guilty.  You get to spend a lot and not feel too guilty.  And in my case, I get to work a lot and make up some new things for the cases, which quite honestly is the thing I love to do the most.  I have some assorted comments today and some pictures of some new things out in the cases.

The first comment has to do with the piece pictured above. I was able to get another carved drusy face from my new German source.  It's a black drusy this time and it's a bit larger than the last one.  And don't get your hopes up---it's also already sold.  I think I'll have to start buying more than one at a time but I am fussy about the ones I pick so I'm not sure it's possible.  There definitely won't be any more of them this year unless someone wants to special order one (and even then I'm not sure there's time to get it in and made up before the holidays if that's the intent).

round disc earrings in 22k gold with granular surface texture
22k gold disc earrings
My second comment goes back to an old posting I made that had to do with alexandrites.  For some reason this particular article is the single most viewed article I have ever written. I think, in part, this has something to do with the search engines and that there isn't quite as much information about alexandrites out there as a lot of the other topics I cover. What is interesting however is that I continue to get emails from people who read the article and then want to know if the stone they have in their possession is a real alexandrite.  My latest inquiry even sent me pictures of the stone in question.  So let me restate something I thought I made clear in the original article.  If you have a large stone in your possession and it changes color the odds are extremely, extremely long that it is a natural alexandrite.  Finding alexandrites in sizes over about 3 ct. is nigh on impossible unless you have a vast amount of wealth at your beck and call.  And unless your mother/grandmother/great aunt/great great grandmother was extremely wealthy they didn't have one to pass down either. If it is a large stone you almost certainly have a color change synthetic corundum (sapphire) and, yes, they have been around for a long, long time.  I might also point out that when you attempt to research your stone on the web you are going to get confused because there are both synthetic alexandrites and synthetic corundums that have been misidentified as alexandrite for years.  Synthetic alexandrites have all the properties of natural but they are man made.  Synthetic corundum is an entirely different material.  Synthetic alexandrites have not been around for anywhere near as long as the corundum, which many find confusing because they assume that their grandmother couldn't have bought one because it was so long ago. But that is synthetic alexandrite  not synthetic corundum. And incidentally you really don't need a gem lab most of the time on this.  Any jeweler who has a gemology degree will be able to immediately tell you if your stone is a synthetic corundum.  It is one of the easiest separations to make.  I have one customer who owns a number of alexandrites that I sold her.  If the timing is right the next time she comes in for a cleaning I'll see if I can get some pictures of the pieces so that you can see what the real material looks like.
18k yellow gold pendant with carved moon face and emerald
Labradorite moon face with emerald accent 18k yellow gold

In the next few days I'm going to rerun my favorite holiday blog article about engagement rings as Christmas presents. I'll update it with some new pictures. Pictured immediately above is a new pendant that is out in the cases. I'm running out of these moon faces as my source retired about the same time he ran out of this quality of material. The pair of earrings in the middle of the article are also in the cases.  They are 22k granulated gold.  There was no solder used on the 22k gold disc (although the posts are 18k gold and are soldered onto the back).  I always love the way the granulation technique leaves a nice texture that makes the earrings look really old.