Biggest Mistakes

I just read a good article in ‘Instore Magazine’ called ‘Lessons
Learned, Jewelers Tell of Their Biggest Mistakes’ (July 2014).

I would bet that with the broad base of Orchid people we could add a
number of our own.

I will start out and confess that our store once sold a a nice
semi-mount wedding ring. Problem was, I had set a CZ into it for the
center stone just to show how it would look with a ‘real’ diamond.
The customer went out the door with the ring thinking he had bought
an all-diamond ring.

The customer happened to be a friend and we were able settle the
matter by selling him a ‘real’ diamond for the center… at a much
reduced price.

Orchid-land, will you admit your mistakes?
Dale Pavatte

Dale- I already did in this month’s MJSA magazine:-) My biggest ones
came from not knowing when to say “no”.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry. Oh, and subscribe to MJSA

Jo Haemer

My biggest mistake was asking one of my best customers wife how she
liked the diamond and ruby ring her husband bought for her. Lost my
customer and they got divorced!!

Rinsing in tap water a just steamed ring with a tremendously big
cats eye chrysoberyl in it… heat shock or
should I say cold shock and the water wasnt even cold it was room
temp but the mass of the stonewas big so it was still very hot when
it hit the water, nedles to say some uggly and expensive cracking

Cleaning a wedding ring set. Yep, A lady came into one of the stores
thatI contracted with (I was to be there 2 days a week so they had a
“jeweler on site”). Well this lady had not cleaned her wedding ring
set in over a decade. She came in and of course the “free ring
cleaning” was something she decided to do. I ended up saying “no
way!” as the ring was so worn that many of the settings were either
worn off or buried under “dreck”. Diamonds were literally glued on
the side of the shank with nothing to hold them otherthan drywall
joint compound and only god knows what else. Did I mention that she
ran a dry-walling business with her husband? And it stank! I do not
mean a little odor, I mean it stank like something died and was
rotting on her hand. So after negotiation with the store manager,
who said she would take it in as a estimate to the customer, (the
store would cover the costof labor for anything I had to do), I
stepped out to the sales floor to make sure that the lady signed a
disclaimer saying that no matter what happened, I would not be held
responsible for what happened to the ring as I thought it was beyond
cleaning and should be gently “retired”. So after 2 days soaking in
various types of solvents and several rounds of going through the
ultrasonic, I had about a dozen melee fall off but that was it. It
was an overnight soaking ina beaker of “Attack” that did the trick.
At some time she must have gottenit covered in some polymer based
something that was holding it together. The wedding band, engagement
ring and anniversary band fell into about 7 or 8 parts as I recall
(not counting all of the gems that fell out). So I document
everything carefully, put all of the parts in separate zip-lock
baggies, weigh and grade the stones that were loose just to be nice,
and stapled everything to a photocopy of the job envelope with the
agreement she signedhighlighted. I get back later in the week to the
store to work for the day to find out the store manager was sacked
the day before for low profit margins. It seems she was giving out
too many repairs and that was dragging down the profitability of the
store. So when I give the job to the new store manager, he said no
way would he pay me for the labor of cleaning the ring and that I
was responsible for restoring it to new. Of course the customer was
just over the moon about that! The ring was eventually sent to the
Main Offices of the company and a brand new ring was made from
scratch. No charge to the customer. They tried to charge me for that
also but with my threatening to sue the parent company for breech of
contract, contact the Better Business Bureau, and to call up the
local TV station for an interesting story, they relented 4 weeks
later. I never did get paid for the cleaning.

Vernon said, “My biggest mistake was asking one of my best customers
wife how she liked the diamond and ruby ring her husband bought for
her. Lost my customer and they got divorced!!”

I’d say that’s the husband’s mistake! OUCH!

Hi all

made a pendant set with a fluorite stone. Polished etc then washed
it in hot water.

Cracked. Great, hours wasted wrecked by my own stupidity.

Just jogged my memory. Had a solid white opal ring I had made the
ring needed to size it up tried to anneal the band exploded the opal.

We learn the most from out mistakes, I have learned how stupid I

All the best

Just a couple of months ago I was getting ready to make something
with 24K gold, and started to pour a very small (fortunately) wire
ingot. Apparently I hadn’t completely dried the mold, and it blew up
in my face. and since I was working out back, into the leaves and
dirt underfoot.

I raked up everything within a radius of six feet, down to a depth
of about an inch, and shoveled it into a big washtub, then proceeded
to pan for gold, in my own back yard.

I like a nice hot mold when I pour molten metal. Doesn’t matter how
dry it looks, I’ll heat it until it’s uncomfortably warm to the
touch, as I usually have in the past.

I think I got all but a few milligrams back.


Hi Guys,

My biggest mistake was asking one of my best customers wife how she
liked the diamond and ruby ring her husband bought for her. Lost my
customer and they got divorced!! 

I can’t remember who, but one of the retail guys I worked for early
on said something to me about 'never, ever, mention past purchases,
from either of them to the other, or together" I’ve always gotten
the sense that was one of those standard unwritten rules of the

Me? My biggest mistake was the first time I picked up a torch. It
was all downhill from there. Now, my tool collection has reached the
point where semi-trucks are magically drawn towards me with loads of
antique tools… and people give me tools, just because I already
have so many. (really)


PS. > Anybody in CA want a really serious industrial tablesaw? The only
table saw you’ll ever find with a mist coolant system… (also have a
vertical mill and a metal lathe in central Ohio that need new homes.)
Brian’s home for wayward tools needs to lighten the load.

Oh man, I’ve made so many it’s hard to choose one. I could write a

Here’s one. We would always be working on multiple jobs at once.
While one is cleaning or in the pickle, we are soldering another,
trying to be efficient with our time. One time we mixed up two
similar diamonds in two jobs being worked on at the same time. The
first one was finished and went out as a rush. The second was
finished and sat waiting to be quality checked. Later, the person
checking noticed that it wasn’t the right diamond in the ring. We
immediately called the jeweler who had received the first one so we
could correct the mistake. He said that the customer had already
picked it up and was on his way to the airport for two weeks in the
Caribbean where he was to propose. He was not about to call him. I
had to call the jeweler who owned the second ring and say that not
only did we set his diamond in the wrong ring, but we sent it on a
two week vacation to the Caribbean. Nice for the diamond but nobody
else was very happy.

Procedures changed and we looked forward to new and different


Hi Brian, and friends,

Mistakes? mine have been of a different sort, being production
errors because as many of you may have noticed, I rarely do comission
work, instead, making a range of products which sell off my

However, I had a comission to mint 500 silver coins at Schloss Burg
nr. Solingen Germany, during their museum’s 100th sanniversary. this
project took from inception to turnkey conclusion some 6 months,
what with the design of the dies, their production, purchase of the
999 silver, blank production and associated printing, packaging etc.

I arrived in good time, built up the exhibition and the mint, was in
production at around the 175 coin mark, when a member of the public
distracted me, in a minting cycle, to the point I missed placing the
blank in the collar. Didnt see this, and had the 2 dies come
together!!. with some 45 tons impact pressure. A minters nightmare!!.

Now i use the very best Grane tool steel for the dies and they are
very tough, but in this case there was an image of the top die on the
flat area of the bottom die. this had the image of Englebert Der 11.
on it, fortunately it was cut deep. What to do? i took the die out of
the mint and decided to see if i could flatten off the false image on
some 600 silicon wet and dry. Half an hour later, it was time to
polish the flat surface (I always have a small version of my workshop
with me) and yes, not as sharp as before, but acceptable, thank

The museum director didnt notice the difference and the project was
successfully completed.

Next, I was turning some steel and had the lathe on power feed,
forgot I had put the chuck key on the lathe bed, the saddle came up
against that and the headstock, there was a thump and something had
broke in the headstock.

After much dismantling found that 2 teeth had broken off a gear,. It
took a day to tig weld up the teeth and grid back to form. Another
lesson learned!!.

And finally for today, i was finishing putting the banner on the
marquee roof, leant sideways and the ladder went the other way, i
slid off the roof, fortunately landing on my feet. Still a 7ft drop.

Take care all.