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Certified Bench Jeweler


Hi Stanley; In the small retail situation, belonging to a union would
probably cost a jeweler more than it would benefit him, but
eventually, the industry wide effect, in my opinion, would be
beneficial, especially if it would promote fair trade instead of this
so called “free trade” that we have now.

    By the way- you may be happy with $65 for a repair job which
took you an hour, but I'm sure people like David Geller would
disagree with you. 

I usually go by my own prices, and mine have been researched, maybe
not as effectively as Geller’s though. Maybe I didn’t make clear, I
am not an in house subcontractor, I own an independant trade shop
with several accounts, local and out-of-state. The $65 was a
low-ball wholesale price given to one of my wife’s co-workers.
Normal wholesale price would probably have been around $93 for that
job. I don’t get many of my own customers, unless they find me
through connections. Some I’ve had since I lived back in Michigan. I
don’t advertise, I’m not open to the public, etc. But as far as I’m
concerned, friends and family are not a conflict of interest, as
long as they’ve never been customers of my accounts, and I usually
only charge them wholesale or halfway between that and retail. I do
insist on collecting and paying sales taxes though. According to
David Geller, if I were charging 40% of his prices, as he says trade
shops often do, then the retail price for $93 would have been
$232.50. Sound more like a reasonable retail price?

    But do a small calculation: Add up the stores overhead
including rent,insurance,payrol, electric, plumber, etc and divide
it by hours open to get a $$ per hour it costs to have the lights
on. (I know you rent your workspace, but I wonder if that rent is
proportionate to the space you're using or are you getting "hooked
up" so the store can have a jeweler on the premise?)  My store's
number is roughly $36 per hour. 

I don’t rent space in the store, I have 3 rooms of office space on
the second floor, along with 4 other businesses up there. It happens
that the jewelry store owner downstairs is the landlord and owns the
entire building. My rent is comparable to every other rental space of
it’s kind and size in the downtown area here. And interestingly
enough, I did exactly figure what it costs for me to do business,
including rent, utilities, insurance, my wages, my employee’s wages,
the withholding, accounting costs, etc., etc. That was at a time when
I was looking into an SBA loan. That was also needed to come up with
my price list. I also had to calculate as best I could the time it
took to do most jobs I list. You may find this hard to believe, but
my cost of doing business figure is just pennies under yours, about
$35.65/hr. (if going by 2,080 hours a year. Breaking even, in my
book, means going out of business, so I’m charging $40 per hour,
wholesale, for my services. That’s a typical rate in these parts

  Are you still happy with the $65 repair job?  How long did it
take to sell it and deliver it? 

As I said, this was not a typical job. But as for 99% of my jobs,
I don’t sell them, the accounts and their staff do that. But my
policy is to serve my accounts to help build their business, which,
in turn, builds mine, so I offer a lot of help. I’m the next best
thing to a salaried employee, except that you only pay for what you
need when you need it. That was my selling point for my business. I
do sell a job when it’s a custom job for a local account, in most
cases. And charges are built into custom work to cover design,
talking to a customer, etc. Delivery varies. One account is
downstairs, one is accross the street, one is couple miles away but
picks up and delivers himself, one is a half hour away but he picks
up and drops off once a week when he’s here for another regular
appointment he has, the rest go FedEx next or 2nd day, etc. Turn
around time is 5 business days in house or less, depending on the
perticulars of the job. They all get the same prices, the same
service, let them battle it out. If it’s a problem that I work for
all of them, they can go to my capable but expensive local competitor
or my incompetent but affordable one, or spend shipping and
insurance, or hire. Their choice.

   What I do in my store is have a published price list and have
the salespeople sell the repair jobs. 

I give my accounts my price list, plus a copy without prices so they
can pencil in their own retail ones. I wish they would all buy
Geller’s book, so they would be tickled pink by my prices, and
eventually, I’d raise mine and they wouldn’t bat an eye. Here’s a good
one for you, and David, if you’re reading this, take note:

Today an account brought in some work for me. Said he had charged
Geller’s prices for the repairs and the woman walked. (He’s the only
account I have who uses Geller’s book). She then took the work to
another local retailer who is also a bench jeweler. He screwed it
up. She came back to have it done over the right way. Now she’ll
pay Geller’s price plus what she paid the hack, but it will be done
right. True story.

David L. Huffman


As You may know, we have a number of certified jewelers on the
Orchid ‘memebership’. And some ‘certifiable’ ones too(grin). But
kidding aside, I wanted to let other’s know about a book of jewelry
standards. Jewelers of America, and Professional Jeweler has a
wonderfully illustrated counter top guide to show customers(and
jewelers) HOW things are done right and wrong. Covering all types of
repairs, stone setting,casting, finishing, fabrication and assembly.
Called: The JA Professional Guide to Fine Jewelry Craftsmanship Each
page is double sided(to show customers) and for the jeweler to use,
and stands on it’s own. Really a great way to educate customers and
actually increase business. And is a good reference guide for bench
jewelers. This would be the first book I would recommend for the
beginning jeweler, for it is more of an instruction or lesson
book.And how procedures are done correctly. Cost is $69.99 for non JA
members and $49.99 for members(the usual disclaimers) Jewelers of
America 212-768-8087 Go here for a sample of what illustrations are

Good Goldsmithing!
Thomas Blair CBJ


Hello All: I have been a proud supporter of the Jewelers of America
certification program since it started. I have great hopes that more
jewelers will take the time and spend the money to get certified. It
did take me awhile to finish it because for the Master level it has 3
tasks that have a time limit of 12 hours each plus preliminary tasks.
Even though it didn’t take me 12 hours on each task you still must
schedule a person to watch you and stop doing your real job for some
time to get it done. I am the only jeweler in my store and so that
means turning some work away and not being able to size that new ring
right now. All and all it wasn’t that bad and not too many
disappointed customers. I will say that getting a Master
certification will increase you pay where you work and if it doesn’t
you will find that it opens many new doors. There are loads of stores
out there that want to have the best jeweler they can find and having
that peice of paper is a great way to prove your worth. Michael R.
Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas USA JACMBJ

 Jewelers of America, and Professional Jeweler has a wonderfully
illustrated counter top guide .... 

Thomas, do you have a web link where one can order this or is the
phone number you’ve given the best option?

As a self-taught jewellerymaker I have found a number of those
Professional Jeweler articles very useful. The idea of having them
all in bound form is appealing … in spite of the non-member price

Trevor F.

 My passing as a Master Jeweler that included any testing of
casting ability would make the system a joke! Mark Chapman 

Mark, I don’t think the certification is a test that just anyone
would attempt if they were not sure of their qualifications With the
cost and time and effort involved, not everyone is a candidate. And
this is not an educational course. It is a confirmation of your
skills. And chances are if you could complete the Master course, You
would have skills that got you there. There is also a written test
that does cover a great deal , don’t know if it covers the specifics
you mentioned. I have only taken the Certified Bench Jeweler, so
don’t know exactly what the Master course involves. But, ALL good
questions., AND, this is a start! There aren’t any other standardized
nation wide certification programs! Perhaps your questions should be
presented to Jewelers of America(?) Thomas Blair CBJ