Customer service pays


customer service pays, the couple I cleaned jewellery for came back.
The lady had bought 4 pieces of mine and I cleaned 3 of the husband’s
(not mine) as well. JCR ionic cleaners are just great for customer

The husband gave me $2 (what I sell them for) for the cleaning cloth
I GAVE him and then bought a necklace for his wife. Will they be back
of course, they get service like nowhere else. Hand made and great
service, unless you are Gen Y with an attitude LOL.

Both my kids are Gen Y and although I love them dearly there I times
a think an expensive european sports car or laser welder, full casting
set up etc would have been a cheaper less traumatic option.

But then when my daughter is on the bench next to mine it is really
cool and when my son tells me about his latest recipe for the bakery
he is production manger for that is really great too. But when they
start complaining I think about the workshop I could have had really
tunes me out.

As jewellers and precious metal smiths there are many things we
don’t have that our friends do.

But are friends don’t have our workshop that has grown from a simple
bench to a world of enchantment.

Does their fancy car or cool swimming pool equate with what we get
when a customer is enraptured by one of our designs? I still get the
same buzz when I sell a piece as when I sold the first one.

I remember the day at The School for Silversmiths when I went in
going “I sold it I sold it!” That was my first piece of real
jewellery, they all laughed and knew I was totally addicted. That was
decades ago.

It makes it all worth it and the cash is a bonus.

So newbies you are entering a world of fascination and enchantment
which we oldies have enjoyed for decades.

So post those “dumb questions” we have all asked them and Orchid is
where you will get the most responses and from people who have skills
beyond belief. Me I am a humble silversmith but there are those who



As jewellers and precious metal smiths there are many things we
don't have that our friends do.

I look at my friends who have fancy cars and big houses. I think,
“I’ve worked hard all my life. Where’s my fancy stuff?” Then I go
into the shop and say, “Oh yeah. Tools!” I am also the envy off all of
my girlfriends because of my personal jewelry collection and my
handsome jeweler husband who sometimes makes very nice jewels for me
as well. When my late mother, sister and I, used to go clothes
shopping we’d always take our jewelry so that we could buy clothes to
match. Most ladies do it the other way around.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Hello Richard,

As jewellers and precious metal smiths there are many things we
don't have that our friends do. 

I am glad to read that you are happy in your choice of a career. But
I do despair when I see the old “starving artist” cliche repeated as
a fact of life. Jewelers, craftsmen and other artists are very
capable of earning a prosperous income. Many have in the past and
many do today. That is not to say it is easy. But if you don’t
expect to make an affluent living, it is unlikely that it will work
out that way. I object to this kind of statement whenever I can
because I strongly believe it is wrong to teach young artists to
accept poverty (or a modest income) rather than to teach them how to
use their talent and skills to do better.

Steve Walker

Richard you are one of the best. in freely giving of your time and
advice. If I ever get to your part of the world I will buy you a
beer or two… :slight_smile:

Hi Stephen

That was not my point. I am in no way a starving artist. The point I
was making was that we spend money on tools and stock instead of
other expensive items. This often means I do not have a lot of cash
to splash but I do have serious dollar value assets.

This is a habit of those who are from old money. Put your dollars
into something solid. For example instead of buying an expensive car
($200,000 plus) I bought a house on the river the view from my bench
is beautiful. I also have an appointment only showroom in that house.
Also bought another one for my daughter to live in.

What we do have are very expensive workshops THAT MAKE US MONEY! AND

In no way did I mean that we should not make money, that is the aim
of business. I just meant that our priorities are more workshop
focussed than on frivolous items. I would rather buy a new tool than
a smart phone. I would rather buy good wine than a new suit my one
pure wool Aquascutum one will do fine. Not much use at the bench.

In a previous post I said I make more as a semi-retired silversmith
than the average wage earner.

None of my students are taught be be poor they are taught to work
hard and make good money.

Yes it is hard work, but everything in business life is.

We should all aim for the best and work hard to make serious $.

I hope this clears up any misunderstandings.


I was lucky and successful enough to have a 30 year career as a
metalsmith, and 7 of those years were in college back in the 80’s
and 90’s. However, this year has been one of the worst I’ve ever
seen, and many of my fellow artists (normally very successful) are
really struggling. This winter was a tough one, and people are tapped
out. For once, I’m starting to question how much longer can we ride
out this recession, whichnever really left. For those of you starting
out or looking to relocate, don’t bother to try in the Northeast US.
Extremely frugal, not prone to buying fine jewelry and even artisan
jewelry is a tough sale. Strictly small gold and silver jewelry, the
plainer, the cheaper, the better. Also, ulities, housing, rent and
taxes are too high. I’m entertaining the idea of relocating to other
parts of the US, esp, where I can get really affordable health
insurance, and not spend half of the year digging out of snow. Just
a fair warning. It’s ain’t over till the fat lady sing. Joy


However, this year has been one of the worst I've ever seen, and
many of my fellow artists (normally very successful) are really

I have found this too especially when people get their electricity
bills. We have a “Carbon Tax” which has made the price of
electricity very expensive. And while some martyrs feel good about
this, they refuse to acknowledge that volcanoes produce more CO2 than
the human race.

However we are “drowning” in pollution as a planet and all we hear
is climate change. Want to lose sleep look up the plastic islands in
the Pacific ocean.

What I have done is to change my price points and products. Low
dollar items sell very well. $50 or less. One range I make are simple
shapes in sterling. Tear drops, squares circles etc. Use.5 mm sheet
cut them out and drill a hole. Use my doming set to curve them.

Polish and put on an ear wire. Cost $5 take half an hour to make
sell for $25 Say profit is $15. Now a 10 hour bench day makes 20 pairs
at $15 profit that is $300 dollars or $1500 a week say $70,000 a year
before tax. A good wage in Australia.

I used to make a much more time consuming version of these and sell
them for $45. Sales dropped when the economy went south.

Changed design dropped price and sell all I can make.

Also have some bread and butter items. Swarovski CZs in easy
set/quick set earrings. Cost $8 in a nice box sell for $20 take
longer to put in box than to make. Do they look good or what! A
customer went to Canada on a tour and they did the diamond thing.
That night at dinner she wore the $20 cubics and said they were
Australian diamonds, the ladies who had spent $5,000 were jealous
LOL. The Signity cut are GIA certified as to the quality of cut and
the greater dispersion makes them look a million dollars. Not great
jewellery skills but great profit and sales.

I do markets and by appointment at my show room. A market is the
best advertising, customers see the product range and the quality.

The cost of a stall is less than an ad in the local paper. And being
the only silversmith for a couple of hundred miles gets me lots of

As well as selling sterling my wife makes jewellery from beads she
sells earrings from $5 and necklaces from $10. Think it is easy to
make bead jeweller, sure is, but if you don’t have the design skills

So we cater to a wide range of tastes and value. And out sell most
stalls in the markets. And collect orders as well.

Sound easy, well do the hard yards and learn how to make quality and
make it quickly. We have been in this business for decades and it is
the designs and price points that put us ahead of the competition.


I sell a lot of cabochon bezel set rings. When was the last time you
saw a cab in a jewellery store?

Do we only sell the cheap stuff? No we also sell high quality
designer jewellery for those who have eyes to see.

Like an natural parti sapphire or black opal in a one off 18 kt for
an engagement ring or a unique set of necklaces and earrings for the
bridesmaids ?

So you need a broad range of designs and price points. And you need
to work your arse off as we say in Australia.

As lady friend of mine a professional milliner says, "People buy
sht, make sht and sell sh*t all. And can’t work out crap does not

Then blame the world for not having taste. As they go broke." Sell to
the market you are in.


If I were starting my career now I’d move to where folks have money
and like to show off. Mostly in the south. Houston or Dallas Texas,
LA, Naples Florida, NY, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, all come to mind.
Any body here sell in Dubai? I’m guessing lots of jewelry sales
there. You just have to follow the money and the bling lifestyle.
Though there’s plenty of money here on Oregon, folks here tend to
dress down. Think Birkinstocks and flannel shirts at the Opera. Sigh.

Have fun and make and sell lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

Hi Richard,

Yes, that clears it up very nicely. I hope my comments did not cause
you too much concern.

While we are on the subject, I have a friend who worked as an
artist/craftsman as a side business before she retired. After
retirement she continued her artistic business. She and her husband
were well off from the wages of their other careers. Talking about
herself one time she said that she certainly considers herself an
arts professional, but she never could make a living at it. I was
shocked. I told her that she was certainly intelligent, talented and
hard working enough to do very well making a living at her art. Since
she never had to or never really tried to, she could indulge herself
making the kind of things that interested her the most, regardless of
how much sense that made as a business. Good for her. She might not
have been able to work that way and earn a living, but I am sure that
she could make a living at her art if she had tried, just would have
had to do it differently. Her “you can’t make a good living doing
this” statement is a way too common attitude in the arts. I am glad,
Richard, that this isn’t you.

Steve Walker


I agree. I drive a Suzuki Jimny, we are a one car family. if I sold
the tools in my workshop I could buy a Ferrari and pay for the
insurance to drive it…

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions…

I love my tools and almost every day I spend 2 - 12 hours playing in
my shop. Much more time then I would have spent driving the Ferrari
:slight_smile: not to mention maintenance is much less which allows me to drink
23 year old rum when ever I wish…

Don’t get me wrong anyone. I started with $10.00 in my pocket when I
made my first piece of jewelry. Lots of hard work and long hours
over the last 43years but worth every minute of it. I know very few
people in this field who go to work and say everyday "I hate my job"
yet I hear that from so many other people in different fields. They
may make big money but they are not always happy at what they do… I
have been happy most of my 43 years doing this… Have fun and make
lots of jewelry… And try to make the right Decisions.

Her "you can't make a good living doing this" statement is a way
too common attitude in the arts. I am glad, Richard, that this
isn't you. 

Continuing this thread of the thread. I couldn’t agree with Steve
more. WhenI hear that I wonder if those very talented
craftspeople/artists might possibly lack an entrepreneurial
component in their personality that could improve their income?
Without it you would be left just making what you love to make and
wishing people would buy your cool stuff, but forever bummed that
they don’t. Where the entrepreneur in you, where it there banging on
the door, would endlessly seek to find ways to change how you sell
or you work or change your product line or connect with customers
who will buy what youlove to make. I think it’s important to nurture
both the artistic and the biz sides of your self. If you’re good at
it, I hope you believe there really is no reason you can’t make more
money than you need, even in the arts.


It would also help to go to a place where there aren’t SO MANY
jewelry makers and SO MUCH competition (like NY).

Elegant Insects Jewelry


I guess my attitude to profit making came from working in the
fashion jewellery business.

The land where profit is king. Actually the only reason for being in

The Irish ladies on holiday came to pick up their orders today, had
to size one ring up, used a ring stretcher.

Very happy "This looks so good with my other ring, gold and
diamonds. Parting words “See you next week.”

So polite no gen Y attitude and are happy with their rings. They
will remember me and their holiday in Australia.

This stuff makes me feel very good. Not a big dollar sale but a very
good one. So as I know their ring sizes I should make a couple of
special rings for next week. Or maybe some pendants.

Also sold a colour change lab grown corundum to a young lady for a
present for her mother. Liked the fact that it was fused and
reticulated and so a one off. One offs are very good sellers, won’t
find them in the local jewellers.

This makes my jewellery day.


Hi Jo and other westerners

If I were starting my career now I'd move to where folks have
money and like to show off. 

I have been thinking about the above statement and started to think
other possibilities.

I am from Texas and yes it might be showing off, but I seem to think
that it is just the fad of big jewelry never ended. Most people in
the south have many pieces that they wear with different outfits, vs.
wearing the same piece all the time. When I worked in Colorado I had
many women that wanted a big diamond engagement ring but worried
about what people might think. In the south they don’t care what
people think.

I also think in your area jewelry has a different meaning. In the
south its adornment in the west it’s you don’t like the environment
or care about the poor if you wear big jewelry. I have friends in the
west that have mountain bikes that cost $3000.00, and fly fishing
reels for $1000.00. I think there are different ways to show off, we
just don’t put them down like we do jewelry.

By the way not ranting just throwing out a thought, and by the way
thank goodness for the south. Its keeping me in business.

Bill Wismar