got a real flashback chuckle from rene roberts’ contribution on
’aesthetics’. my methods: self-taught, my designs: somewhat
different, my tenure in jewelry making: less than 4 years, my
expectations: unestablished. at the first few shows i tried to
concentrate on those disposable-income-laden-looking walk ups,
until the motorcycle couple came by; i expected them to give a
brief look & pass on (well, not pass on as in ‘die’, just pass
on as in ‘leave’ my booth). but they stayed & looked, gathering
sidelong glances from the vuitton voyeurs. that black leathered
duo bought 3 pieces of my top priced items. at another early
show a little old lady in tennies, pastel checked walking shorts
& bright floral shirt (honest!) looked at everything - twice -
on her third trip she bought a huge very avant garde rainbow
moonstone & LEXAN pendant! a japanese lady, in nurses’ shoes &
no english, wound up waving a gold amex card & with hand signals
indicated she wanted the neckpiece i was wearing - all without
asking a price; oddly enough, there’re many times when people
don’t ask the price before they hand over a card or open a
wallet - an education in itself. of course, there are still
people who look like they have money & appreciate aesthetics
who do buy, but the ones i think about, as i am cutting my
stones & working my metals, are the ones who may wear tennies &
mis-matched clothes, ride authentic motorcycles, speak only
another language, but all have the same reaction to my work: a
sigh, a smile, & a ‘wow’.

Yes Virginia,

Thanks for the wonderful advise.

I’ve actually been doing a some of what you’ve written. And I
have been observing gallery stuff via the internet and
magazines. I think I’m falling in love with the whole thing too.

As to developing a more upscale product line and customer base,
I am quite intrigued with the possibility of doing commissioned
handcrafted shell, stone and wood inlay parts to artists who are
active in this site. I would like to start off in a very small
scale, just one or two projects at a time, and see how it goes
from there.

Our current site at would have absolutely nothing you
would be interested in. But I was wondering though if I could
send a couple of images directly by email to you. You said “Ask
the buyer for suggestions on what his customers would perceive
as more upscale” and even though you may not become a
customer, you represent my first connection to this upscale
group and would love to listen to your ideas about our craft and
its potential for joining your world.

Thank you and I look forward to hearing from you. Melvi


A few years ago DeBoys released some very entertaining sales
training videos that were produced by and featured Andrew Sachs,
perhaps better known as Manuel from Fawlty Towers. One jewellery
store scenario featured two customers, one a dowager duchess
complete with lapdog and chauffeur, the other a spiky haired
leather clad teenaged lout. Needless to say the duchess wanted
her alarm clock fixed wheras the youth wanted to buy some diamond
bracelets for his pet alligators, band mascots and part of his
act as a rock star!

Anyone involved in jewellery sales should view these videos,
after all our favourite monopoly does know a thing or two about

Art Jewellers On-Line Gallery and promotional collective for jewellery
artisans. To subscribe to our newsletter please visit;

I think the days of being snobby and elitist, to make the
customer think they are getting a deal are over.!! 

I seldom sell to galleries, mainly because I’ve had so much
trouble dealing with the kind of snobbish and nasty types that
I’ve found running them. I mostly do craft shows, perhaps to my
economic detriment, because I’m so much more comfortable dealing
with the people who will actually wear my pieces than with
people who think they’re doing you a big favor just by
acknowledging your existence.

Janet Kofoed
fine handcrafted jewelry

This thread reminds me of a story I heard years back. Grace
Slick lead singer of the rock group “Jefferson Airplane” walked
into an Aston Martin dealership several blocks from her home in
San Francisco. She was disheveled, unkempt and shoeless. The
salesman treated her rudely when she asked if the DB-6 model
they had in the showroom was available in any other color than
the yellow they had. The snotty salesman said that yes, they
also had a blue one. When she asked to test drive one he
refused her. She went home and came back, dressed as before, in
about a half hour and walked up to the other salesman and asked
him, other than the color, what was the difference between the
two, how much each of them cost. The 2nd salesman politely
explained and gave her the price and she said I’ll take both of
them and proceeded to pay for them in cash! Imagine the
commission the first guy lost?

Skip Meister
Orchid Jewelry Listserve Member
N.R.A. Endowment &
Certified Instructor
in all disciplines
Certified Illinois D.N.R.
Hunter Ed, Instructor
ICQ 37319071

Skip - thank you for this wonderful story about Grace Slick and
the Aston Martins. In my corporate persona when I had a chance
to quickly browse, I frequently would find that the response I
would get from gallery/shop personnel would be radically
different from that I would receive when I went back on the
weekend in dog park grubbies but prepared to buy. The change in
attitude usually turned me off so much that I not only walked
away that day but vowed to buy the artists’ work from other
establlishments and shared my negative experience with others who
had far more disposable income than I did and who despised
snobs. I believe that is my tiny contribution to karma. It is
an old marketing truth that negative press has exponentially
greater negative impact than positive press has positive impact.

Shael Barger

Hi Virginia -

My opinion on the aesthetics question is that it can’t be easily
answered (or even discussed by some), because it is personal. So
personal for some people, so much a part of what they are, what
they’ve experienced, who they are - that most people couldn’t
describe it even if they wanted to.

I share some of your opinions on fine art (Renoir, Monet vs.
Warhol), but I wonder if it has more to do with the familiar,
with what our personal experiences and influences related to art
have been. (For example, trips to museums when we were children,
how our parents and friends decorate their homes or the opinions
they have shared with us since childhood, what a professor once
told us (while we were daydreaming during an art history
class…), what we’ve seen on PBS, in galleries, in museum shops
and what we haven’t).

My interest in jewelry and metal arts was renewed by last year’s
SNAG conference in Seattle. I was enthralled by the multitude of
designs and techniques and textures and forms and metals used to
create wonderful works of art. That doesn’t mean I would want to
own, let alone wear, many of them or that I even had to like
every one of them. Some of them I really didn’t like at all (in
concept or how they looked or what they represented). But, I
could still appreciate the artist and the artwork itself.

In terms of aesthetics and design trends through the ages - I
can’t even begin to figure out how they start. Who decides what
colors, textures, techniques catch on? I don’t think it’s the
public - most of them are trend followers (the majority only pick
up on a trend at it’s peak, when it’s surely on its way out…).
Is it the fashion designers? The media? Or, are artists in tune
with changes to society that affect our directions? Art Deco, Art
Nouveau, Techno- styles, collage pieces, “illusion” necklaces -
how is it that artists all “seem” to be trying out similar
techniques at the same time? I’m sure it’s not just market

And, while we’re on the topic, how is it that some artists
create very similar works at the same time - without copying one
another’s ideas? hmmmm…

Lori Bugaj

    In terms of aesthetics and design trends through the ages
- I can't even begin to figure out how they start. Who decides
what colors, textures, techniques catch on? ... Is it the
fashion designers? The media? Or, are artists in tune with
changes to society that affect our directions. 

I once had a wonderful art history teacher who believed that
artists (the influential ones, anyway) were people who could see
how society was changing how it perceived the world. The easiest
example of this is how the impressionists perceived that the
camera was changing perception, allowing slice of time images,
and incorporated that into their work. Warhol perceived that the
flood of commercial images were making these icons, and thus, the
Campbell’s Soup can. If there is anything to this theory (which
I find intriguing), it might, in part, explain why many artists
seem to move in one direction without copying each other…they
are moved by the changing times, the changes in the culture.

I agree that one of the functions (not the only function of
course) is to “predict” the future. That is, art in the role of
phophecy. If you read my previous post on “agates.” I think that
the reason that many jewelry designers are incorporating more
non-precious, yet naturally beautiful minerals into their work is
that society generally is becoming more sensitive about ecology
and natural materials.