Well, time to revisit a frustrating issue in the sales domain.
Just for a quick bit of background: I am, for lack of a better term,
an artistic metalsmith. Almost all of my work is limited-edition–at
least in theory; in practice I am constantly developing new designs
and seldom find the time to make more than 2 or 3 of any one design,
and many pieces end up being one-of-a-kind by default. So it would
not be practical for me to have sample pieces without drastically
changing the way I work.
Let me cut to the chase: sometimes customers want to try on
earrings. From a customer-service perspective it seems like a very
reasonable request… in general, I want to do whatever I can to make
someone feel comfortable with a purchase. On the other hand, I have
heard there is a possibility of transmitting infections via ear
wires; furthermore, some potential customers simply don’t like the
idea of wearing earrings that someone else has tried on. Of course
you can clean the ear wires with alcohol, but that is not true
sterilization–i.e. it is not guaranteed to kill all disease agents.
And I have talked with the staff at a couple of local
tattoo-and-piercing parlors; they seemed to be as well-informed on
the subject as anyone I know, and they don’t allow anyone to try on
Some time ago I provisionally established a no-try-ons policy… but
today I was talking with the owner of a shop that recently started
carrying my jewelry on consignment (it is a well-regarded, upscale
gift shop, but not specifically a jewelry shop), and I realized I had
forgotten to ask her about this. Well, she allows people to try on
earrings. “They need to see how they hang,” she says. And I totally
get that… and I decided to let it slide for the time being. But I’m
So, here are my questions: 1) Where can I find factual on
this issue–that is, backed by medical research/public health data,
etc., but hopefully without too much medical jargon; 2) what is your
policy on trying on earrings, and why?; and 3) is there any commonly
available substance that can be safely used to sterilize (as
opposed to sanitize) a piece of metal?