Designer Spying

Dear All,

I rarely post on Orchid but feel the need to share an experience,
with the hope I am not going to open a “can of worms”.

I had an exhibition/sale from my studio which is based from my home
and advertised as I usually do and sent out personal invitations to
clients. I do not publish my address and only potential clients who
call and give me their details can obtain my hours of opening and
address. A lady came with a friend and I politely asked her how she
came to the sale, she was very correct and did not give me any of her
personal details. I showed her all my 22kt gold collection and she
happily tried on earrings and rings as did her friend, upon leaving
she said when I asked her for her details the answer was I’ll call
you. I however asked her her name and got a first name reluctantly. I
was very busy, but had a nagging feeling about this woman, and in the
early hours of the morning did a search on the web to find out this
woman is a jewelry designer marketing her goods in many places in the
US. Her style not unlike my own. I wrote her a mail to tell her that
it was a pity she came in such a way and why didn’t she introduce
herself instead of pretending to be a potential customer. I also
asked her not to use designs that she had seen as I am a small
business and have the intentions of being introduced to the US market
in the very near future.

The lady wrote back (she must have been “gob smacked” to have had
her cover blown), that she wanted to discreetly see if she could
introduce me to her line in NY, and that she didn’t introduce herself
as it can cause pressure at a sale - a very lame excuse which I don’t
buy. She wrote she will be in touch and of course hasn’t.

I am not surprised she did not contact me as it was obvious that her
intentions were to use my designs and do not need this woman to
introduce me into her line. The question is did I react well or is
there something else I can do so this woman will be deterred from
doing it to someone else? Please don’t get me wrong I am not afraid
of competition, but this was done I think in a very underhand and
devious way. Any opinions anybody?

Pamela Harari

Well, it may have been devious. Then again, she might not be any sort
of competition at all, it does take time and money to build an
inventory, why duplicate some one else’s look and feel?

Usually in similar situations, I introduce myself, comment on the
designs, workmanship and choice of stones, and if the person has
time, talk shop- tools, processes, techniques, suppliers, and
generally share In the end, it is your relationship
with your clientele that will determine your success.

Rick Hamilton


Her style not unlike my own. I wrote her a mail to tell her that it
was a pity she came in such a way and why didn't she introduce
herself instead of pretending to be a potential customer. I also
asked her not to use designs that she had seen as I am a small
business and have the intentions of being introduced to the US
market in the very near future. 

I think you did a very brave thing. It is extremely difficult for
most (especially women) to stand up for themselves in such an honest,
open way. It shows a lot of self-confidence on your part.

I looked at most of your jewelry. Your website is beautiful, as are
your designs. It is unfortunate that a person visiting your site
cannot see the entire piece they are viewing (when you click on an
image, you only get a close-up of a partial necklace, bracelet, etc).
I am wondering if you do this because it is an attempt to discourage
copying of your designs?

As I said, the designs are very lovely…I have no doubt at all that
when you introduce them to the public, you will be very successful.
However, most of the designs seem to be based on “historical”
jewelry…there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, but it is
extremely likely that (even if no one is attempting to copy) there
will be very, very similar designs out there as well (especially near

There is nothing else you can (or should) do about this
woman…there is no way to sell your work and hide it at the same
time. In looking at the craftsmanship in your jewelry, though, I was
thinking that you would probably have no trouble at all coming up
with some additional designs that are not likely to be so prevalent
in the market. I know I sound like a jerk, but I look at a lot (too
much) of jewelry. I could probably already tell you the name of the
woman who showed up at your studio…but it was really important to
me that I give an honest answer to your question because I truly do
think that your designs are lovely.

I wish you the best of luck in your venture

p.s. I love that pendant…the one the says “nyet” on it, way cute

Kim Starbard

Writing is an interesting method of communication because the reader
takes an active role; assigning tone, visualizing the writer and
subjectively deciding if they like/respect/dislike the writer and/or
agree or disagree with the writer’s conclusions.

I have found in life that one should never assume and one should
never assign motives to others. I have also discovered that it is
very hard to be unique in a medium that has been around as long as
jewelry, so almost every designer has pieces that resemble another’s;
you included. This is not theft. This is that there are only so many
variables and while occasionally, a jeweler will create a signature
look that is fresh and unique, (i.e., Kretchmer, Schlumberger, etc);
the vast majority do not.

There isn’t anything you can do because she didn’t do anything
wrong; however, much you “know” she did.


Pam…I suggest you write her another nicely and politely worded
note advising her that she should know all of your ‘designs’ are
copyrighted and any infringment could result in litigation. Send it
registered mail so she has to sign for it. That way, should you ever
become aware she is using any of your designs you will have specific
evidence that she was warned.

Otherwise, there is little one can do. Even in you designs are very
unique, she could always claim…“I woke up one night at 3:00am and
had a revelation from which I concluded this line”. Good luck and
cheers from Don at The Charles Belle Studio in SOFL where simple
elegance IS fine jewelry!

I am not surprised she did not contact me as it was obvious that
her intentions were to use my designs 

You say that she is an established jeweler with work not unlike your
own. So then why would she need to copy your designs?? Perhaps she
was just checking out the competition (something that most large
companies and a lot of small ones do). The fact that she was in
looking at your work does not immediately imply that she is there to
copy. (Perhaps she had heard that your work was not unlike hers and
she wanted to see if you were copying her designs!!) The fact that
she didn’t introduce herself to you can be for a number of reasons. I
have walked into jewelry stores (across the country from where I am
located) and told the people that I was a jeweler and been promptly
escorted out the door. It also impacts the way people behave towards
you in other ways. Sometimes it’s nice to see how you’re treated by
other people in the field so that you can assess how you’re doing.
Personally I think you’ve over reacted.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

A lady came with a friend and I politely asked her how she came to
the sale 

I’d say you need to speak to the “Friend” who brought her to your
home. Security alone, it would have been better to have your friend
ask if it was okay to bring this person and you could have
pre-screened her.

Hi Pamela; I think this is very very common, the spys usually try to
stay in the background and I’m surprised they would come to your
home /shop in a one on one situation. Most of the time they go to
trade shows or art shows and just walk through and look from a
distance. I have always been suspiciuos of people who want to buy
just one of everything that is mass producable or cast. I always
like to remind people that the designs are copyright protected and
patented. Also alot of them will want to pay cash so that they won’t
have to give any personal info. and no record of purchase.

It’s unfortunate that the non creative people feel that they must"
knock-off", from the creative, but it has pretty much always been
that way.


Please don't get me wrong I am not afraid of competition, but this
was done I think in a very underhand and devious way. Any opinions

I think You are upset that she wasn’t upfront with You at the start.
If she introduced herself, would You still have been comfortable
with her looking at Your line? This is a hard one to balance, I do
fairly traditional jewelry, nothing You haven’t seen before- and
there are plenty of jewelers whose work looks similar to mine. I love
looking at other jewelers work in fact I do it all the time (in books
etc.) & yet I do feel uncomfortable when another jeweler looks at my
line at a trade show unless I know their style is very different. I
try to be open & OK about it but it doesn’t come easily. They are the
competition after all. But there’s room enough for all of us. This
woman wasn’t honest with You so You immediately conclude that she
did not have good intentions. I don’t blame You for feeling like
that. I personally wouldn’t have shown up at someone’s jewelry sale.
It isn’t polite. She wasn’t there to buy anything after all. So if
she wasn’t buying then she was snooping. It was OK to call her on it.
I’d leave it at that.

Mary R

sorry just trying to see the originality in your work, and why they
are “your” designs; the snake arranged in some sort of abstract way
is universal, the scroll and half scroll is universal, the
multibanded ring with stones on each band has been done and done,
the primative, egyptian, roman “thing” is currently being done to
death, hammered finish is a technique used by many, the cameo
on the ring, etc., you say it in your bio, your designs all
come from ancient study, so where’s the plaigarism on her part, i
applaud you for hand working methods, and not casting, but it’s
been done, dp

it is extremely likely that (even if no one is attempting to copy)
there will be very, very similar designs out there as well 

It occurs to me that it is possible that this woman was there
because she had heard that you might be copying her and she came
to see! Hard to know what people are thinking, and there’s no way to
know or reason to assume that she is unethical.


As a newbie, I often look at other designers work, whether it be at
shows, galleries, or the internet. My intent is not to copy, but to
see what other designers are doing so that I can create something
different from what is already being done. I also want to see
technique and craftsmanship so that I can compare my skills to what
is already in the market and see if they measure up (I have been
very hesitant about putting product out there that doesn’t meet the
standards of where I want to be in the marketplace).

I almost always introduce myself and have found the other designers
to be gracious and helpful in offering advice. The times when I
haven’t made an introduction are when the designers are busy with
customers or on the rare occasion that they seem standoffish.

I should also note that just because I’m also making jewelry, that
doesn’t preclude me from purchasing jewelry from other designers for
my own personal use. I know my limitations, and when I fall in love
with a piece of jewelry that I’m not capable of producing myself, I
will happily buy it. My hope is that someday I will be rubbing
elbows with these comrades at the ACC shows, etc. But even then, I
will continue to be a collector of work by designers that I admire
for my own personal adornment.

So my point is: “designer spies” are not all malicious. I’m in
agreement with a previous poster that you are probably being paranoid
and have over reacted. And as another previous post stated, the
designer may have just been checking to see that you were not copying

Bonnie Cooper

Pamela, Shalom, So what part of “Goniff” are some overlooking?

Very interesting male vs female responses.

This was an uninvited individual, who did all she could to hide her
identity from you, despite your efforts to validate her.
Congratulations on great detective work. I doubt, had she identified
herself, that you would have denied her entry.

"What Fools We Mortals Be…


Dear All,

It seems there are many people who claim my work is not original,
some of you maybe right, I have been influenced by the Roman and
Byzantine periods, and my work is indeed a reflection of this and I
have only been a jeweler for 30 years, so make your calculation!

However my post was not about my work and I did not ask for opinions
on my originality, it was about sharing an experience that I feel was
an intrusion of privacy, and wanted to hear from others what they
thought. I am surprised how [] some of you are and how ready you are
to criticize someone else’s work publicly by not being “original” and
me being “paranoid”

The whole issue here was professional ethics, but some of the
responses I have had are under the belt and I don’t think this was
the aim of the Orchid forum to publicly dissect a fellow colleague
offline or on, especially as I wasn’t asking for an evaluation of my
work or my mental state.

Maybe I am not as original as some of you lucky ones on this forum,
who were born before anyone could influence them, but up to date I
have a clientele that would make any designer proud, and I am for
what I have achieved even though I live in the Middle East.

The “Lady” in question has an international high flying business, I
am sure she traveled the world and by chance ended up in my village
trying on my jewels because she was in the area, or because I was a
threat to her business even though I don’t export…come on.

I hesitated to make my post for the fear of "opening a can of worms"
How right I was!

On this note I would like to thank some very nice people for
contacting me off line, and I would like for those who have a hard
time being nice, personal coaching can do wonders!

Pamela Harari - Jewelry Design


The best advise I’ve ever heard about knock-offs was an over-heard
conversation between two designers at an early SFS: “How do you
handle knock-offs?” " I don’t. I enjoy the compliment, I enjoy that
others know who’s being knocked-off, and I’m too busy making next
year’s line,that will be knocked-off in two years, to worry about

I don’t see that your pieces are very knock-offable. The pieces on
your site are more defined by the “style of the work” than the
design. By that I mean certain elements common to your work aRe:
solder visible and a different color that the piece, ragged bezels,
porous metal, nicks and gouges in the metal, non-polish, chipped
stones, asymmetry in earrings… These and other elements add up to
your own unique “style of work” that can’t really be duplicated. Many
of the designs are primitive and elemental - ie: bezel set stone on a
round wire shank. It’s your “style of work” that makes it unique to

Nice touch writing her the letter!

Hannibal, Mo

Just want to share my recent experience.

I had been working on a pin design. A customer of mine has 37 ct.
hart shaped topaz. The gem has a problem. It was cut too shallow.
There is a huge window right in the center. After some
brainstorming, I decided to encircle topaz with diamond set ribbons
crossing in the center and terminating with the bow, thereby hiding
the window.

Few days ago my wife went shopping. She stopped at the David Yurman
store to browse, and she saw the pin which very closely resemble my
design. When she told me, I decided to kill the design. The last
thing I want is to look like David Yurman.

What is the moral of this story ? It is practically impossible to be
completely original. Most designs are due to necessity of dealing
with flaws which needs to be concealed, or the particular traits
which we want to emphasize, and the train of thought proceeds along
the same path. We have to be careful accusing others of copying
"our" designs because chances are even when we create something
original, it probably was done before by someone else.

Leonid Surpin.

Very interesting male vs female responses. 

Well, maybe I can’t tell who’s male and who’s female here, but
there’s been a generally definite consensus of overreaction on the
part of the original poster. Male and female. Go back and read them
all. I think you’ll find that while the female responses may be
slightly more soft in their responses most of the responses were
pretty much the same regardless of sex. I’m on the wrong computer to
compile responses (this one doesn’t get all of my emails) but I’d be
happy to do it tomorrow for you if you still don’t believe me.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140

your designs all come from ancient study,,, so where's the
plaigarism on her part,, i applaud you for hand working methods,,
and not casting,,, but it's been done 

There’s got to be something in her work that caught the interest of
the “other woman” other wise she would have found no need to be
there. Could be price…could be craftsmanship…could the ability
to tap another market, who knows. I stand by my original conviction.
The work is lovely. Quite frankly, it does possess a certain level of
craftsmanship currently missing from some very commercially
successful New York based jewelers.

I was thinking on this for most of the day. The fact is, there isn’t
anything new under the Sun. Novel ideas are rare. However, I think
(my opinion) that the number one rule of jewelry making (well, number
2…right behind "don’t spend all of your hard-earned show money on
fancy martinis for the house) is Make what the customer wants and
offer it at prices the customer can afford.

A person can spend all their time coming up with the next greatest,
new design. It can be brilliant, but if it is not what the customer
wants at a price the customer can afford, you’re dead in the water.

So what if there is a lot of “historically-based” jewelry on the
market right now. The pieces are beautiful. People love them. They
sell. There isn’t anything wrong with that.

I still think the little Cyrillic pendants are pretty. I thought of
little “promise rings” and “promise pendants” that said “I love you”
in different languages…really nice. (I wonder what “I love you”
looks like in Mandarin Chinese?)

Good Luck Pamela! I wish you the best
Kim Starbard

I hesitated to make my post for the fear of "opening a can of
worms" How right I was! 

I’ve felt the same way at times. Have hit the delete button more
than once. I dislike personal sniping, veiled or not. But this IS the
internet after all and this goes on almost everywhere. I frequent
another web board where the animosity would curl your hair. It took
me a few years to realize that for every sniper there were many more
lurkers who actually got something worthwhile from the original post
and even from the ensuing ‘discussion’.

So Pamela, people see, people know, people can figure things out for
themselves if you know what I mean.

Wow, what a turn this thread has taken… I know this is gonna ruffle
some feathers, but still I press on. Am I a glutton for punishment

Pamela, I would have had the same guttural response had I been in
your shoes. I agree, she was sneaky. Coming to a private show and
not wanting to introduce herself to the artist, she reluctantly gave
you her name? That would have my knickers in a bunch for sure! It’s
one thing to try and fly under the radar, it’s another thing to try
things on, say “I’ll call you” and then be reluctant with her
name… She should have come clean and introduced herself from the
start. Perhaps she had no bad intentions, she just happened to be
there with a friend. This all could have been a big misunderstanding
because she didn’t act properly from the start. I’ve been there,
I’ve done that, it’s an awkward situation to back out of. Perhaps
trying to hide who she is was the only way she could think of saving
face because she knew she used poor judgement in the first place.

I’m not making excuses for the customer, she could have been spying-
who knows? Nobody knows but the customer herself. Like I said, been
there- on the awkward customer/designer side. It’s a bad place to be
and perhaps her uncomfortableness is what raised the warning flags
for Pamela.

Pamela had no idea what this woman was up to, and if her gut told her
that something was amiss, than I think she should trust that feeling.
That doesn’t mean her assumptions were correct- what I’m saying is
that it’s okay to trust yourself.

I feel like Pamela has been jumped on for her response, and most have
cried “over-reaction”. Coming from someone who is a passionate
person- I grew up in a french/italian household, I never heard the
phrase “over-react” until high school, it was just not used in our
household. I too am someone that is often accused of over-reacting.
(If ya’ll think Pamela is overreacting, let me introduce you to my

For a while (and if this is too deep into my psyche for most to read,
by all means hit “delete” on your computer) I tried to keep those
feelings inside because in our American culture, it’s not appropriate
to “react” in the way that comes from our heart and soul- to each it
is different-- people are very quick to use “over-react” to dismiss
how others are feeling-- and to shut them up. Bottling up feelings is
a bad thing to do, it gets you in trouble both spiritually and
physically. Do you know how many ailments are caused from stress, and
did you know that we as Americans top the charts in stress related
conditions? I myself have had a number of stress related ailments
over the years until I discovered the only cure was being myself and
speaking my truths how and when I feel them.

Everyone responds differently to different situations. Perhaps hiring
a lawyer would have been “over-reacting”, but what Pamela did was
write this woman a letter telling her how she felt and asking her
not to copy her designs. I see nothing wrong with this. I think she
handled it in the way she saw fit, and she handled it in a
professional manner.

One more thing… notice Pamela didn’t ask if she “over-reacted”—
she asked if she “reacted well”:

"The question is did I react well or is there something else I can do
so this woman will be deterred from doing it to someone else? "

And Pamela, I think your work is beautiful.

Good luck with everything.

Amery Carriere Designs
Romantic Jewelry with an Edge