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Thursday, December 8, 2016

New Bracelet

14k Red Gold and 18k Yellow Gold Freshwater Pearl Bracelet
This is a brand new bracelet I'm putting out in my case today.  I worked with 14k red gold on this because I wanted a darker red out of my metal to match the colors in the freshwater pearl than the 18k pink gold I usually work with which is a lighter tone of red. So it's a mix of 14k red gold, 18k yellow gold and the bezel for the pearl is 22k gold. One of the other advantages of the 14k red gold is that it's a little bit less expensive.  I won't be making another like this for the rest of the year (at least) so come on in and take a look. 

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Some New Pictures

I haven't had much time to write on here recently because, in case you didn't know this already, I have to do pretty much everything here.  These days I've had to take over my photography work as well so I'm now handling making and selling the jewelry, all the social media marketing, photography, cleaning the store, etc. About the only thing I don't do around here is the bookkeeping and that's because my wonderful wife Kathy handles all of that.  Also at this time of year, I'm pretty much constantly under the gun to get the work done.  So it doesn't leave me as much time to get to writing on the blog.  I don't have much time today either so all I'm going to do is post some new pictures of some pieces I have done for the cases and some custom work, so I can get them out there for those of you who haven't started following me on Instagram (where you can see these things the same day as they're finished so sign up already). 
Carved black onyx (by Steve Walters) 18k gold pendant
 This piece is out in the cases.  I've been looking for a similar carving for awhile as I did one a few years ago that sold.

New freshwater cultured baroque pearls.      
Mokume gane, diamond earrings
 These are some classics of mine but a new pair just went out in the cases.

Rainbow Moonstones and Diamond earrings
 These are some brand new earrings I just put out.  The moonstones have gotten incredibly rare as rainbow moonstones (technically spectrolite) have pretty much been mined out.

18k gold, fancy colored sapphires and diamonds
 This is another one of my classic pieces but this is a new one out for sale now.
Natural color blue sapphire, diamonds, platinum engagement ring
 I just custom made this ring up for a customer.  I have a couple of versions I now do of this design. 
Tanzanite 18k yellow gold earrings
Brand new tanzanite 18k gold discs. 

That's it for today folks!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

The Holidays Are Coming! Another $100 Gift Certificate Contest! Instagram! Facebook! More Contests!

I just got in a new piece of onyx similar to this and I will be making up a similar pendant soon!
It seems to be that time of year again when Santa's elves (or the Hanukkah elves) are hard at work.  And since I seem to be one of those elves I am about to go into my nonstop work period.  I will be working every day until Christmas.  I won't be open every one of those days but I will be open most of them.  Starting on December 6, I will be open every day until Christmas.  We will also be open the day after Christmas as Christmas falls on a Friday this year (I hate it when that happens😀).  If you want to know my hours please check my website as they will be posted shortly. 

I know I haven't been writing as much lately on here but you have to remember that I am pretty much the whole shebang here.  Today was Small Business Saturday. When the government talks about small business, they are referring to any business with 500 or less employees.  500 employees????!!! To me that's a huge business!  I'm a small business.  I have one (very) part time employee at the moment.  Other than that my wife, Kathy, does the books.  That's the whole thing!  So it's hard to keep up with:  making the jewelry, selling the jewelry, cleaning the store, buying gemstones, ordering other supplies, keeping up with the gemological news, marketing, etc. 

Which brings me back to why I haven't been writing as much here lately.  Partly it's that I have all of those other jobs to do as well.  But also I have been investing a chunk of my marketing time into Instagram lately.  If you aren't already following me on Instagram, please, please do so.  And share my posts.  All of my newest pieces are being posted on Instagram as soon as they are finished.  Plus there are a whole lot of pictures of work in progress which I am being told are as interesting as the finished piece pictures.  You can also follow me on my Facebook business page, or you can friend me on Facebook, as long as you don't mind a lot of political fodder.  Almost everything I post on Instagram, I also post to my regular Facebook feed, but to see this you do have to friend me. 

While I still have a portion of the new body of work I produced recently out, I always make up new pieces at this time of year.  It's a great time to buy because under pressure I always turn out some of the best stuff.  I have a lot of new stones in the cases as well thanks to my suppliers who always give me some wonderful stuff for the holidays that you can come in, pick out and have me do a custom piece just for you. 

Speaking of which, as I am wont to do, I am running a small contest.  Want a $100 gift certificate against any piece in the case or any custom job?  Come in and pick out the most expensive loose stone in my cases right now.  It should be a piece of cake for some of you by now as I tend to get in similar types of material every year.   And there are no restrictions on the time frame on using the gift certificate (although, let's be honest, I really want you to use it now!). 

I am also running a second contest.  I will give anyone who gives me a good topic to write a blog article about a $50 gift certificate (good for anything I do) when I write an article about that topic. 
And yes I am going to continue my autobiography articles soon.  Actually I hope to do that next week some time. 

So let's get going here guys.  Come on by and look at what's here.  And write to me.  I like to write so you know I'll get back to you. 

I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving!

Saturday, October 1, 2016

I'm a Little Irritated

Tourmaline and diamond earrings
Not a month goes by anymore that I don't get two or three phone calls or customers into my shop (people who have never bought anything I make) where the conversation goes like this:

Customer: Hi.  I just got this ring and I need it sized and I'm kind of in a hurry.

Danny: Is it a new ring?

Customer: Yes, I just bought it.

Danny:  Well if it's a new ring the place you bought it from should size it for you for free.

Customer: But I bought it online and I would have to ship it back to them and I don't have time for that (or it will cost too much to ship it).  I thought you could do it for me in a day or two.

Danny: (Audibly sighs, maybe two or three times for effect).  My repair time is about two weeks right now.  And really the place you bought it from should be responsible for making it in the right size for you.

Customer:  They said they would size it but I have to send it back.

Danny:  Well I think you should send it back.  You can overnight it to them and ask them to overnight it back to you.  If it was my ring you bought I would size it for you so you could have it on time.

Customer: Well, um, okay.  Are you sure you couldn't do it right away?

Danny:  As soon as I get done with all the other repairs I have in house ahead of you I can get it done.

Usually that's the end of the conversation although a few people will continue pleading.

Some of you might ask what are you irritated about (although I suspect most of you know already).  It's just more work for you. So let me tell you:

When someone goes online to "save money" on a piece of jewelry, it isn't my job to fix what the online company does wrong. If the only thing I'm good for is to fix the mistakes of a company you work with sight unseen then I have to get a new location where my rent is only going to be a hundred dollars a month (of course then I wouldn't be nearby and you wouldn't be thinking I'm the person to call---despite my 40 years of experience).

If you want excellent customer service than work with someone local!!  If you buy a ring from me and it's the wrong size you can be damn sure I'm going to make sure it's sized right for you when you pick it up and if it isn't I'm going to size it overnight for you to make sure you can give it or wear it on time.  Sometimes I even do it on the same day.  And I never charge for it.

 So why do I do this for the customers who buy my rings and not ones bought elsewhere?  Because I make money on selling you the ring.  If I sell you an engagement ring for $2-3000 it's worth it for me to push other things aside and make it right for you.  If you buy a ring somewhere else and want me to size it for you I only charge $70 for a downsizing.  It just isn't worth it for me to stop all of the other work I'm doing (like making that engagement ring order up) so that you can give a ring you bought elsewhere to your intended.

Now I understand that I don't sell a lot of the more commercial designs that many of you buy online, but I can assure you that just about everything bought on line is available at a local jeweler.  It may not be me, but there are plenty of others who will sell you that exact same design AND take care of sizing it or fixing it locally and quickly.  So maybe it's worth thinking twice before deciding that the only criteria is how much money you can save by buying it online from some company that you will never, ever have a personal relationship with.

And that's my rant of the day.

P.S.: I don't look askance at people with heirloom pieces they bring to me.  If your family is passing down something to you to use I'm always happy to try to assist (although sometimes the time frames may be longer than you want) in whatever way I can.  This truly just applies to NEW purchases.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

It's been five days so I'm open for business....

Unfortunately because my regular photographer couldn't make it in last week to take the pictures I have been running behind a bit at getting them all out.  However I'm running all the final pieces today.  Again the pieces will not be put out in the case for two weeks.  If any of my blog readers want first chance at them, now is the time to call or come in.  Tomorrow or Friday I hope to be getting back to a normal blog and writing about something that is irritating me these days. 

I needed to get three shots of this boulder opal and diamond ring to show you what's going on in it.  If you've always wanted an opal ring this is a great one because there is lots of protection for the stone!

A new watermelon tourmaline bracelet. 

As you will see from my last two pieces I got a lot of beautiful drusy this year, most of it orange.  The pair on top also has natural color orange sapphires. 

So this all she wrote folks.  Although I'm finishing up a pair of disc earrings that I usually do with tourmalines with a pair of beautiful orange garnets.  I really am into orange this year.................

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

And Again.

Orange Drusy and Natural Orange Sapphires
                            By now I think you're beginning to realize that orange is the new black!
Parker Ranch Fossilized Wood, Diamonds.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Two More

Sapphire Beads, Mokume Gane and Natural Color Sapphire

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Here they come!

I told you I would start posting the new pieces soon.  Unfortunately my photographer couldn't make it in today so I'm going to be using my own pictures for the moment.  Not quite as professional but not too bad.  Here are the rules:  I'm going to be posting two to three pictures per day.  I should have all the pictures up by Wednesday.  From Wednesday on any of you can come by to see and pick from the pieces or call me about them if you want one.  They won't actually go into the cases for the general public for two weeks after that (you have exclusivity until October 12).  Then anyone can get them. 
"All Orange"  Orange drusy and orange sapphires

"Opal Abstract" Boulder opal and emerald

Friday, September 16, 2016

What the heck are you doing?

Pricing out the new jewels!
So I know I've been sending out some teasers here but let me explain what I'm doing this year. Back in July I closed the store for a four day period so I could spend almost a week just making up new stock for the cases.  It was a great week for me as it's one of the things I love to do the most.  I mostly finished, got started on, or fleshed out a large (for me) grouping of pieces.  Almost all the stones I used I purchased in the month prior specifically for the grouping.  Usually I put out new designs as I finish them but I wanted to do it a little differently this year because to me, at any rate, they felt like a group.

I wanted to produce some work that followed many of my usual themes but also I had some fun playing with how asymmetry and balance impact appearance.  Every piece I made is a one of a kind, completely hand made piece (no castings).  Basically this is going to be my entire production of new designs for the rest of the year (I will be producing many of my regular designs on an ongoing basis however so don't worry, I'll still have plenty of stuff to buy).  I have never put out this many new designs at once. 

So what does this mean for you, all my faithful blog readers?  I am having pictures of them taken on Saturday September 24 and I am hoping to begin posting pictures of them here on the blog beginning on the 25th, probably at the rate of 3 per day (this should take 5 days).  From the day the last pieces are shown on the blog, my blog readers will have the exclusive opportunity to purchase the pieces for a 2 week period (phone orders are fine too) before I put them out in the cases for the general public. 

If you're thinking of something for the holidays this will be your best chance to get something new from me for awhile.  If you haven't treated yourself in awhile, well it's a good time to get something new just for you.  So keep your eyes on the blog in the next few weeks!

And PS if you aren't following me on Instagram yet you should start as most new pictures of pieces I make (both custom and stock) are showing up on there first these days.  I'm under daniel_spirer_jewelers. 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Fall Collection

You're looking at the new fall collection.  Can't see it?  You're right you can't.  Yet.  But stay tuned and keep reading the blog.  In about 10 days you'll get a chance to really see it. And an offer only for my blog readers.  I'm really excited about this.  I've never put this many pieces together at once to go out at one time. 

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

If You Like It, Buy It.

18k yellow and white gold wedding bands
I had one of my non local blog readers call me recently about getting an emerald for a ring for his wife.  Needless to say I immediately asked him if he had read my articles on emeralds in rings.  He had but his wife had a strong hankering so he was going ahead with it anyway.  He called primarily to find out if there was a place on online he could post a picture of an emerald and find out whether it was a decent stone or not.  Unfortunately there isn't and it wouldn't really work even if there was.  First of all everyone's cameras and computers read colors slightly differently and even very subtle differences in color can make a huge difference in price. Also there is no way to truly see the types and quantities of inclusions in a stone from a picture.

However what came up was that he had found a stone he liked, but he was uncertain that he would be getting a good stone.  But here is the thing you should remember about all colored gems, regardless of what else is said (either by me on my blog or elsewhere):  If you like the stone then buy it.  It doesn't really matter if it isn't considered a "fine" color or "perfect" or anything else.  If you like it and it makes you happy then just buy the darn thing. You may be overpaying or you may not.  But technically if you like what it is and you think it's a fair price for it then you're not overpaying for it because YOU like it.
A good example of this is some of the lighter toned blue sapphires I buy.  Generally speaking the darker colors (not too dark or they look black) are considered more valuable.  But the fact of the matter is that I have found the lighter colors to often be more sparkly.  I like sparkle in my stones!  So while I always have beautiful, intensely colored and darker blue sapphires, I also have some lighter colored ones because they just happen to strike my fancy.

Sometimes you just have to go with your gut instinct on these things.  Of course that always assumes that you are dealing with a reputable source, so please make sure you have checked out the company you are buying from.

The wedding bands in the picture above are kind of special to me.  I just made them up for my younger son's wedding this coming weekend.  His has a pink diamond in it that I bought for him (it's his birthstone) when he was born.  I can, of course, always make you something similar!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Sale Time

Custom 18k ring in process

I confess to being absent from my blog for quite awhile.  However I have a good reason.  I have been so inundated with work that despite working 7 day weeks I am still running 4-6 weeks on most custom jobs.  So even though I haven't been on lately, please be assured that I am still here and working my tail off. 

In current news:

 The state of Massachusetts decided not to help out the little guys and is not having a tax free weekend this year, however we ARE having our annual sale which is going on all of this week.  You must be an existing customer to take advantage of this opportunity.  Please come on by and see what's out these days!

I have gotten very active on Instagram and would suggest that you follow me on there if you want to see my most current work. The pictures aren't always great as many of them are phone snaps but it's a way to see what is coming off the benches as soon as it does as well as work in progress (like the picture above). 

I am currently working on a new body of work and I am releasing it a bit differently than I have in the past.  Usually as soon as I finish a new piece it goes out in the cases.  However I am now only doing that with designs that I have made up before (or made something very similar to before).  I have a group of pieces (that is getting larger weekly) that are finished except for polishing that are going to be released all at once.  They will be shown on this blog awhile before they are actually released and anyone reading the blog can come in and see (and purchase) them before they are actually put out in the cases.  As it stands now they won't go out until sometime in November but pictures of them should be up on the blog in October.  This will be an opportunity for my regular readers to get first choice on some new jewels.  

I'm going to try to get back to the story of how I got where I am today in the next article.  This presumes, of course, that 1) I get time to write something in the near future, 2) something more interesting doesn't come up to write about and 3) that I actually feel like it!

Please keep checking back.  I will be trying to write more soon.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Work, work, work. And a little bit on scrapping your gold.

An engagement wedding band set and the men's wedding band.
I know I said I would continue more of my autobiographical story in this posting but I'm heading in another direction today instead (because it's my blog and I can do what I want to!).

First of all I want to warn any of you who are my customers that I will be closing for most of the week following July 4 (I'll be closed July 3-8).  I'd like to take it as some vacation time but when you work for yourself a lot of times, time off becomes work time (something those of you who want to work for yourself should keep in mind).  In fact I will be in the store working but only on pieces for the case that I want to make up.  It's the stuff I enjoy the most working on and I rarely get any large block of time to actually do this (actually I can't remember a time when I could do this in the last 30 years) so I'm going to take advantage of what is usually a pretty slow period and do what I enjoy the most here at work.

Many of you know by now that I will take in scrap metal towards work I do or pieces from the cases.
I don't do anything with the scrap myself. I just bring it to a guy who buys scrap metal from jewelers like me.  I don't have acid testing equipment myself (too dangerous) but this gentleman was doing all of his testing with acids.  However recently he purchased an X-ray machine that determines the karat of gold in a much more accurate fashion.  Please don't ask me to explain how it works.  I haven't really looked into it but I have been hearing about the machines for awhile and I do know they are far, far more accurate.

This is what is interesting however from my standpoint. You would be amazed at how much jewelry is stamped 10k, 14k, 18k but is not that at all.  Now some of this is because of an old law that was removed a number of years ago that allowed a half karat tolerance when stamping gold.  So you could stamp something 14 kt but it could only be 13.5 kt and it was legal to do this.  The law has since been changed (quite some time ago now) and no longer allows this tolerance.    So the fact that some of these older pieces come in a half karat shy is not that surprising (because you can be sure that almost all of the jewelry manufacturers shot for the low end on the scale because of how much money they would save--and how much more they would make on it).  However not all of the material I'm scrapping is that old.  But even if it was the under karating going on out there is pretty incredible. On my most recent batch of gold the settlement sheet included 9.5 kt, 10 kt, 13kt, 13.5 kt, 14kt, 17kt, 18kt and 23.5 kt. Multiple pieces fell into each of these categories.  Now some of this material wasn't stamped but a good deal of it was and not one of those stamps said 17 kt, 13 kt or 9.5 kt. This is also not the first batch where I have seen such large discrepancies.

So what are the take aways from this?  Well first of all, I go back to what I say all the time.  Buy local, using small jewelers who are dedicated to producing a quality product.  My gold supplier is one of the best in the country and are 100% honest (when my scrap guy bought his machine I brought in a number of pieces of metal from them to see how the machine worked and every one of them was exactly on the money).  I have never in my life bought or used under karated gold and most small jewelers tend to be like me. When you buy product that is made overseas, especially by large manufacturers, you always run the risk that they will be underkarating their jewelry.  Why would they do this?  Because if they reduce the amount of gold in a piece by even 1/10 of 1% a large manufacturer can save huge amounts of money.  When you buy in a chain store, the vast majority of their product is made overseas now and most of them do not do routine purity checks on the metal coming in to them.  I'm sure many of them do it to begin with when working with a new supplier but it's easy to assume that everything will stay the same.  Even smaller jewelers who buy their product from larger manufacturers may be unknowingly selling you goods that are under karated.  No one can test every piece they buy.  On the other hand I make everything I sell so I know exactly what is going into it.

The second take away from this is that when a jeweler is buying scrap gold from you, you need to be aware of why they pay what they do.  You may have a pile of stuff that is marked 14k, so you think the pure gold content is 58.5% of that and you may assume that you should get pretty close to that amount (remembering that everyone has to make money on the transaction).  But the reality is that the buyer knows that not all of those pieces are going to yield 58.5% pure gold and has to pay out accordingly.  Acid tests, which most jewelry buyers use, are not nearly as accurate as the X-ray machine so they have to adjust things accordingly so they can make money on the purchase.

So as always, buyer beware.  But buy your wares from someone you can trust fully!

Saturday, May 21, 2016

My Life as a Jeweler Part 1

At work at 18 years old
A new reader asked me in my previous posting how I got into this business.  A few of you may know about this but I figured it's as good a topic as any so I might as well tell you.  When I was in middle school one of my classmate's mother and father owned a jewelry store in Stamford, CT.  I believe I was 14 when I went into the shop one summer day and asked if they had any work for me to do and they gave me a broom and told me I could clean up the store.  I didn't go in because it was a jewelry store.  I went in because I knew them and I figured it was as good a place as any to earn some money (something I had been doing in the summers since I was 12). 

I worked on and off for them for a few months and got to know them a little bit.  When I was 15 I happened to go in one day just to say hi and the owner (his name was David Goldfarb) asked me if I wanted a job since a young lady who had been helping them out in the store was heading off to college.  Again, I was always looking for work so I jumped on it. But this time Dave decided to actually teach me how to make jewelry.  At the time he made most of what he sold and the vast majority of it was in silver.  Dave, and his wife Liz, had been in retail most of their lives and had previously owned a clothing store.  But Dave was an extremely talented man in a wide variety of ways.  He was an artist, he had a very creative bent in many ways and he was adept at processes, by which I mean he could see a design in his head and then figure out a way to make it up in quantity with the least amount of effort and the most consistency. 

That was how I started, by learning some of the techniques and a whole lot about how to produce an item.  Dave taught me a number of extremely valuable lessons, some of which it took me decades to fully absorb, but the most important one was this:  It doesn't matter how great a design you have.  If the piece isn't made right and finished properly it won't look good.  And, conversely, you can have a pretty ugly design but if it's made right, it will look good.  Now I think at the time he may have said it will or won't sell, but it has become apparent to me over the years that there is plenty of actually horribly made and/or designed jewelry that does sell, but his basic lesson that you better make it right has always stuck with me and I have always tried my best to do just that with my jewelry. 

Dave taught me how to work in sterling silver but he rarely, at the time, worked with gold so I got no experience with that.  I worked for him for 3 years during which time I also began acquiring my own tools to make jewelry at home.  When I finished high school I stayed at home for the next year, continuing to work for him.  At 19 I moved up to Boston to go to college part time at UMass Boston.  But I needed to support myself so I made up a small line of sterling silver jewelry that I decided I would try to wholesale to stores.  It was really pretty silly when I look back at it now but I remember going into these places with a half dozen black velvet pads with pieces U pinned on them in a paper shopping bag!

So this is taking a little longer than I thought. I'm going to call this part 1 and I'll continue the tale in my next article. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Shop Local. Again.

Blue sheen moonstones in 18k and 22k gold
When even my wife Kathy says that it's been too long since I've written a new blog article I know I've been absent from the pages here.  My apologies.  I don't have a regular assistant these days so I'm forced to do pretty much everything and I've been working 7 day weeks most weeks so if it seems that it has been awhile, it's true, but you'll just have to forgive me.  I'm returning to a topic I've discussed before because it cropped up again recently.  I am always unsure how this topic is viewed as it is, by necessity, self serving but it's a fact of life these days. 

So I had a gentleman come in my shop a few days ago and he asked me if I would look at the inscription on a diamond to see if it was the one he was actually sold.  The first thing I said to him was what I always say to these visitors.  Why oh why would you buy a product from someone you don't trust????  And he said what they all say when I ask them this.  Oh no, I trust them but could you just please look at this and tell me if it's the stone on the certificate.  I'm sure I'm not the only one who can see the fallacy in this statement.  If he trusts them, why does he need me to confirm it?  And if he doesn't trust them then why did he buy from them?  Now I'm a nice guy most of the time so I was going to look at his stone for him anyway so I figured I might as well go all the way and bring up the second part of this article. 

I then asked him where he got the stone (and ring).  I already knew what he was going to say but I just wanted to make sure. Of course he got it online.  I then pointed out to him that people like me (you know, the bricks and mortar small retailers) were going to go out of business and not be here anymore to verify his purchase if everyone just bought their products on line.  I asked him what he would do then?  What would he do the next time if there were no more jewelers on the street like me that he could go to for this kind of thing?  I got the usual, well everyone else was too expensive.  I looked at him and said, look I know I'm expensive, but I also know that there are plenty of bricks and mortar jewelers who will match the price of stuff bought on line because they've been forced to in order to stay in business.  He was very apologetic but being apologetic doesn't solve the larger issue here.  The larger issue is that you all need local shops for something but by shopping exclusively on line you are driving many of them out of business.

Everywhere I look I see things about "shop local".  I'm curious then why there are so many, who when faced with making an expensive purchase, throw away this option?  Remember, next time there may not be that hands on, actual person there to help out. 

And now I have a question for my readers.  My wife thinks I should charge for this service even though it only takes me a few minutes.  I have mixed feelings about it.  What are your thoughts?  And if you think I should charge for it, how much do you think would be reasonable? I'm also taking suggestions for topics you'd like to hear me address.  As always thanks for reading and please feel free to share my blog articles on social media.

P.S.  You can now find me on Instagram too so become a follower!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Restoring Antiques and More on Custom Work

Back in early November a customer of mine brought in half of an antique pin.  She had lost the male part of the pin (the piece with the pin stem on it) but still had the female piece.  She wanted me to make up the piece that was missing based on the existing piece and a picture of the original pin.  Fortunately she had good records and had taken a picture for insurance purposes so I not only had the original half but a good shot of what I needed to replicate.  The piece was from the late 1800's and in those days everything was hand built so it was kind of right up my alley.  However there were a number of issues.  The first is that coral is not actively being taken out of the ocean anymore so I needed to find a piece that was both approximately the same color and large enough to carve a duplicate from.  Fortunately I know a lot of people in the industry and I was able to get a referral to one of the few people left in the United States who might actually have something.  Nothing is easy in this business though so even though I was able to make contact with him quickly and he was fairly sure he had something that would work he was on his way overseas on a business trip.  After a couple of weeks I was able to get the piece out to him and he was able to come up with a piece that turned out to be an excellent match.  Then of course I had to get it carved and I'm not a gem carver so I brought it to a jeweler friend of mine to work on. By this time it was December and he and I were both in the middle of our busy season so needless to say I didn't see a finished carving for quite awhile.  Once I got it back I then had to rebuild the structure that actually held the whole thing together.  It proved to be an interesting challenge because while it might look somewhat straightforward it was anything but. It was white gold on the top and yellow gold on the back so it had to be completely hand assembled.  Every time I would put another section together it would look wrong and I'd have to go study the piece under the microscope again to figure out what I was missing and, sure enough, there was always some little thing they had done that wasn't immediately apparent. However I got through it and finished it up.  I don't think anyone could have made a piece any closer to the original than I did as you can see from the pictures. This is a great example of the type of custom work (or restoration work) that I can do, which leads me to the second half of this article. 

My Favorite Engagement Ring
I've been getting a lot of gents in lately asking for custom engagement rings.  I've talked about custom work before in a number of other blog articles but I'd like to go over a few things again.  I have a lot of people coming in with pictures on their phones of pieces that their significant others have posted on their Pinterest page or something similar.  A good deal of the pictures look nothing at all like what I normally make up.  Mind you, this isn't always a problem as my skills (see the first half of this article) are pretty broad.  However if someone is looking at a specific, unique design and that is exactly what they want I will not make it up for two reasons.  The first is that there are copyright issues involved and I will not break copyright.  Whether or not a copyright sign is attached to a picture, unique designs are given copyright the moment they are created.  That's the law.  No one should be copying my designs and I'm not going to copy theirs.  The second reason is that even if I make up something similar to the picture it will never be exactly the same (actually I can't legally make it exactly the same) and it will not be what the picture is.  If someone wants a specific design then you should go to the company that makes that design and buy it from them.  Additionally you should consider that I will always be more expensive because I'm starting from scratch and the company who made the thing probably has a mold already made up for it. 

Now if you are bringing me in a series of photos to show me the general style that she likes, I'm happy to look into making up something with a similar feel.  But it's not going to be the same and, again, since I'm starting from scratch it's going to be more expensive than most of the existing designs.  But you should also remember that while every piece I make up is going to adhere to the same exacting, high quality standard that I insist upon, pieces that are similar to what I already make are going to be more personalized than something that looks a whole lot like a commercially made piece out there.  So if you haven't shown your significant other my website and blog, think about doing that to see if there is anything I do that she might love.  If she's fixated on a halo ring, unless you want some unusual gemstone (like a magnificent purple sapphire---or yes that great alexandrite), I'm probably not the best place to start.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Another Reason to Shop Small

white flat pearl in pendant with squiggly wires and pink stone
Freshwater pearl and pink sapphire squid pendant
I was reading the Boston Globe on Saturday and one of the front page articles was about how many people have been affected by data breaches in the last year.  More than 1.3 million (yes million!) people had their personal information stolen through data breaches.  But here's the great deal if you shop at a small bricks and mortar shop like mine.  Nothing can ever be stolen!  The only customer information we keep on our computers is your name, address, phone number and email---all of which are readily available on line to anyone.  We don't have social security numbers, credit card numbers, passwords or anything like that.  If you phone in an order and we take a credit card number from you it never goes into the computer.  It gets used and shredded promptly. 
We also only have one credit card terminal and it's kept behind my cases so no one could possibly install a skimmer on it. 

So just in case you were needing another reason to shop at a small shop like mine, today this seems to be one of the best ones!

Friday, February 12, 2016

Happy Valentine's Day!

Two heart pin with red stone in pink and yellow gold
18k pink and yellow gold heart pin with ruby
There are two really good reasons why you should give jewelry as a Valentine's Day gift.  The first is that you don't get fat from jewelry!  No matter what, when you get on the scale on February 15, even if you're wearing your new present, you will weigh the same as you did the day before. 

The second is that jewelry doesn't wilt and die a week after you get it!  I guarantee this.  Ten years from now it will still be alive and functional (unless you're like Morticia Addams and you've saved the dead roses for that long). 

But if you absolutely must give roses for the holiday how about considering some like this:
red stones with two roses attached to each
22k roses and garnets
I'm just saying...............

Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Ultimate Compliment

As I have often said in this blog I like to make and sell my jewelry in good part because of the meanings behind it for my customers.  It's great to know how important a part I play in many of my customer's lives.  Unfortunately some days are more bittersweet than anything else. 

The other day one of my long term customers came by the shop and told me that she had terminal cancer.
yellow gold link necklace with diamonds
Moonbeams Necklace
  She had never been married in her life and had no children but she had a number of nieces and nephews.  She told me that she had already designated how all of her jewelry (most of which was pieces of mine) was to be passed on to the individual relatives.  But then she said to me that she wasn't passing on her favorite piece (also one of mine) to anyone. She told me she had made arrangements to make sure that she was buried in my moonbeams necklace.  

What can you possibly say about that?

Saturday, January 23, 2016

How Long Does Custom Work Take?

18k pink and yellow gold pin with ruby

This is actually an old pin I made but Valentine's Day is coming so I thought it appropriate to put it out.  I wanted to say a couple of things before I get into the main topic of my article today.  First of all I wanted to thank all of you who have emailed (and called) me recently about my postings.  It's great to hear from people who live all over the world who like (and have learned from) what I write.  I'd like to encourage everyone who finds me to please share any or all of my articles with your friends (real or social media) as it helps Google find me better if more people are looking at my articles.  And please if you find one article I've written helpful then read some of my other ones.  I've been writing this a long time and I have a lot of information (and just some fun things) to look at.  There is a directory for some of my articles you can link to on the side of the page (called My Blog Directory) that will sort some (not all as I only update once a year or so) of my articles by topic so if you are looking for some specific information it may be easier to find it. 

Anyway, a number of requests have come in to me recently that makes it very clear to me that many people have no idea what is actually involved in making up a custom piece.  I believe part of the problem lies in our Internet age in which people are used to pushing a couple of buttons on a computer and the next day a book or something else shows up at the door.  The other part I believe lies in what many jewelers claim is custom work.  Many jewelers think that if you come in to their shop, pick out a piece from a catalog they have and tell them what stone you want in it that that is custom work.  That isn't custom work.  The piece is already designed and in existence and picking a stone option just really doesn't mean it's custom. 

Custom work means either that you are developing an entirely new design from scratch or that you are working with a customer on a new design, either based on what you already make but different from everything else you have out.  So if a customer comes into my shop and says I love that ring design but I want a ruby in it instead that isn't custom work.  If, however they come into the store and say I want you to either 1) design a ring with little dinosaurs playfully leaping around the band or 2) I like this look you do but I want you to use my stones and change these particular elements of the style, these things qualify as custom work. 

So how long should custom work take?  Well let's take a look at the idea of little dinosaurs running around the ring.  After we've determined which dinosaurs you want, how wide you want the band, whether there should be borders or not, the type of metal to be used (two colors might be nice on this idea), and your ring size and whether or not this will actually work on your finger, I then have to go and actually make the band.  There are a couple of approaches.  If it's all one color and I think it might work better I might hook up with my Cad/Cam person and work out details with her on doing it up on the computer.  I'm not a big fan of Cad/Cam for this type of work because I think it takes away the handmade look but if I am going to use this process here's what happens:

 My Cad/Cam person and I have to meet and discuss the project.  She has to put my order in line with her other jobs.  She is NOT going to stop everything else she is doing and put my order first even if I am incredibly charming.  Two weeks minimum before we get something to look at on the computer and then I have to decide if it's what I want. If not she has to go back and rework it.  That could take a few more days.  Then I have to show the computer rendering to the customer who also has to approve it.  If you don't like what I've done then we have to go back in and depending on how much rework we need it could take anywhere from a week to two weeks.  After final approval it has to be sent to the caster to be cast.  That takes a week and a half to two weeks.  When I get it back I have to do all the final finish work on it which can run anywhere from a day or two to a week (in part because I'm usually working on multiple jobs at once).  The best case scenario on this is 5 weeks.  The worst case is 8 weeks or more.

Now let's say you've decided you want the band in yellow gold and the dinosaurs in white and pink gold.  This means I will have to hand build the entire thing.  I have to first order the metals which can take up to a week to get in the case of my white gold. In this example I also have to either draw up the dinosaurs myself or find some pictures of some that you like that we can work off of.  If I'm drawing them that's a minimum of a week.  Then I have to get the drawings approved (which means you have to come in and look at them on your schedule--if you get in right away that's great, if it takes you a week that slows it all down).   Once that's happened I have to actually cut out the dinosaurs.  Something as complex as this can take another week or two.  Then you need to see them in real life because they never look exactly like the drawings (unlike in the Cad/Cam process where they look just like the computer rendering).  Then I actually have to construct the entire band which can take another week, or if something goes wrong (and trust me, stuff often goes wrong) two to three weeks.  Then you get to come in and look at the piece and if you like it hooray but if you decide you want some more changes I could either be right back at the beginning or at least needing some more time to make the changes.  Again best case scenario is 4 weeks.  The worst case is 12 weeks.

Now mind you if you're just having me alter some design I already make or if you're picking out an existing design with different stones I can often get the turnaround time down to 2 weeks (again depending on the piece) to 4 weeks.  But remember these things: 1) I have to actually make the piece.  Anything hand built does not just pop out of a computer.  2) I am always dependent on my suppliers.  If they have a problem I have a problem.  3) I'm not a machine.  4) Your order isn't the only order in my shop (and a good thing too because if it was I'd be out of business!).  

Other custom jewelers work in different ways.  Many now do their own Cad/Cam which can speed up the process a bit. But if they are making up a quality piece of jewelry it still isn't going to be done in a week or two.  So planning is important when you're thinking about making that purchase.  If you're on a deadline then you need to plan appropriately.  Leave more time than is necessary because no road is completely bump free. 

Please let me know how you like my articles.  You can leave a comment below or email me.  Thanks so much for reading!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

I'm Still Alive

18k yellow gold and ruby ring
I know I've been absent from my blog these days and I apologize.   I was extremely busy this past holiday season and I was working pretty much non stop.  On top of that I managed to come down with a plague right in the middle of it but had no time to stop working.  I'm actually still working fairly hard but I finally managed to have a couple of days off (Christmas and New Years) so I'm starting to recover a bit.  Unfortunately when you run a small business it doesn't really matter what time of year it is.  I'm still hard at work on taking inventory and catching up on all the paperwork I neglected last month.  And I still have a number of jobs in house to work on.  I will however be closing for about a week and a half to take a small break.  We are going to have some workmen in doing renovations on our workshop space while I'm on break but we will not be open again until January 20.

But let me first wish everyone a Happy New Year and I hope you all had a great holiday. It's always nice to start a new year out on the right foot and my holiday sales helped me to do that this year.  If any of you are reading this who helped contribute to that I'd like to thank you.  I really do appreciate all of the business that people bring my way.  It's not easy being a small businessman sometimes but I love how much people still come in to work with me.  And I especially like it when I hear things like what an elderly couple said to me the other day after they brought in a minor repair job for me to work on.  When they were leaving and I was thanking them they said "Oh, we wouldn't think about going anywhere else for this! You're the only one we trust". Even though it was a simple job, I appreciate the compliment!

This is all I have time to write at the moment but I promise when I'm back from my break I'll be writing more regularly.  If you live in the Northeast enjoy the lovely spring weather we're having!