Educated Sales Staff

Aieee, Sharon! The company I work for is going through the same
problem. It seems the right salespeople just aren’t out there.
What’s hitting me personally is the lack of talented goldsmiths.
I’ve been running their 2.5 man shop alone since February of this
year and I’m about to explode from the pressure. Okay, maybe I
HAVE exploded a few times already :wink: I’ve been doing most of
their hires for goldsmiths to staff their other stores for many
years now and the applicants I’ve seen are usually less than
stellar. I need someone who can handle not only basic repairs and
alterations, but can handle setwork, modelmaking, design,
platinum work… (and they gotta have it finished YESTERDAY!!!)…
in short, a multiskilled individual with a real talent for
problem solving. I know these people exist, but whereinthehell
are they? I don’t want to be facing the xmas season having
worked like it was xmas all year long.

Sorry about the venting, folks. Does anyone have suggestions,
even if they’re just ways to cope while I wait? At this point, if
I had the time, I’d take on an apprentice and train him myself
(something that you might consider, Sharon).


To Sharon Z., and everyone else interested in hiring qualified
sales staff–

Sharon, when you were looking for GG’s, I hope you included two
very valuable sources in your applicant search: GIA’s job
placement service (both in New York and Carlsbad) and your local
GIA Alum and Assoc. chapter. Ads in the local paper, for example,
are usually not the best place to find a part time G.G. (because
that’s not where they’re looking).

As a resident GJG, and former onsite GG tutor, I can tell you
from experience that new or “in-progress” GG’s are usually eager
to find part time holiday work. What I have found is that many
employers are not always able to cope with the short winter break
that resident GG students have.

As for getting high school students interested in getting a GG,
you might want to work with your local chapter in showing up at
high school “Career Day” events.

Anyone looking to hire, regardless of the number of hours they
have to offer, needs have considered a few things first:

  1. How many hours do you need, and how flexible do you expect the
    employee and yourself to be? If you need someone from 11 to
    4pm one day a week, you’re probably going to have a hard time
    filling that spot.

  2. How much are you willing to pay? If you don’t offer a
    competitive wage, what’s their incentive to work for you?

3 ) How much training are you willing to do? Do you have the
necessary tools and experience to do the training?

  1. Start early…you may find someone willing to come in early in
    the season for training, and be able to use them (after frank
    discussion!) just for those times you really need them…at the
    last minute, though, you’re both going to be frazzled if you
    try to start then.

It’s not too soon to start thinking about your future hiring
needs to day…

Perhaps employers looking for experienced craftsmen should look
in the senior pool, who by sheer determination have built
businesses (like myself) and sold them at an early retirement age
only to find that boredom does not replace the need for
recognition. But offer them a decent wage and conditions; they
may show some interest. Incentive is the keyword here… Martin
Rosenblum @martdoc

If you need outside help we have about 4 hours per week we could

I saw your post today & thought I would put in my 2 cents worth.
Being on the other side of your situation, I can honestly say
that, aside form compatability w/others in your shop, the main
thing I found discouraging about shopping for a new employer was
the pitiful wages offered. Several times I would run across an
ad in one of the trade magazines that sounded great. Required
many skills. Wanted full-service repairs, fabrication, mold
making & wax modeling, designing and even occasional sales.
However, when I would call and perhaps even travel to interview,
I would be saddened at the poor rewards offered. I know for a
fact that you can’t support a family on $24,000.00/year! I
certainly appreciate a challenging job but I expect to be paid
fairly. I finally found a great position very nearby with a
retail jeweler and found I could do much better and be more
productive for them as an outside contractor instead of an
employee. Just thought I would vent a little steam also.

Steve Klepinger


To repeat again, coming from a perspective where I know lots of
people looking for their first break: You’ve listed an impressive
set of credentials for any goldsmith.

Just how much are you willing to pay, and where are you
advertising, and where are you located?

If someone has all these terrific skills, what incentive do they
have to work for you, and not for themselves?

I see ads in the back of JCK quite often, where people want 20
years of experience, and to pay $20K/yr (USD) for it. I have no
idea what you’ve tried in the past, and I know that in other
industries, I’ve been on the hiring end and been frustrated by
the applicants available, but often it was (when I was hiring for
a corporation) a function of the low pay being offered.

Which skills are absolutely necessary, and which skills are you
willing to train or to wait for the prospective hire to develop?

For for thought for all of us…

–> to Dr. Aspler <-- what are the rules for advertising an open
position on Orchid?

The problem with this hiring goldsmiths is everyone wants
someone with 10 years experience. All those people are
self-employed by now, or comfortably employed and happy somewhere
and not likely to leave. I would look for a new grad of a
quality program (Revere, GIA, Paris Jr. College, other trade
schools) and then train them a bit. College trained people
won’t have enough experience unless they have worked somewhere
and/or taught themselves.

I meet young people all the time fresh from GIA at association
meetings, and in my classes, who are frustrated because they
can’t get a job. I too had a hard time for years getting hired
at the bench. (Everybody wanted me in sales!)

I would contact all of those schools for help. The Jewelry
Design Institute in Richmond, Virginia assists all students in
finding work. I would also suggest you advertise in places like
Metalsmith, Crafts Report, etc. And post at the student jobs
dept. at colleges with jewelry programs (there are those that
prepare students for work in the industry).

If you are willing to train a little, I can’t believe that you
won’t be able to find someone willing to work for you. Good

Chicago, Illinois, US
Middle of the Country, neaer the top, base of the Great Lakes

The other day I was talking to a fellow student of mine from the
University I attended. She is now working for a store where she
does platinum work and stone setting as well as repairs. That is
what she really wanted to do…unfortunately she was 3/4 of the
way to graduation before she realized she wasn’t going to learn
the nescesary skills in college. No stone setting required…no
gold work, who could afford gold? No class on repairs…mold
making only if you had the ambition to do it on your own. She
ended up working with a nasty little guy who paid her minimum
wage in order to learn the skills she really needed.

Others in similar situations have gone back to school or served
unpaid apprentiships to learn these skills. I think part of the
problem is a lack of knowledge on the part of students, and a
lack of concern on the part of some schools to teach some of the
basics…I mean, if you can afford college you could probably
scrounge up a few C.Z.'s, or something to learn the basics of
setting on. I never even knew about the schools that just taught
the technical end of metalsmithing, stonesetting etc. until I
graduated from college.

Karen in the midwest…well, we were all praying for rain, and
got what we asked for.


hello, I have a question for all of you with knowledge on
soldering aluminium. What kind of solder do I need.? What kind of
soldering tip, for a large piece, I am trying to solder a
sculpture. will I need.? What kind of cleaning do I need to do at
the end of the job.? Do I use the same gas tank that I use to
solder my jewelry.? Please answer me back, I will be waiting for
any answer. thank you. christina.

     I know for a fact that you can't support a family on
$24,000.00/year! I certainly appreciate a challenging job but I
expect to be paid fairly.  

I couldn’t resist “venting” on this myself, Steve. I’ve been in
business for twenty years, running both a retail and a wholesale
business at the same time. I have two full and four part time
people. You are right about barely existing on $24,000 per year,
but that is exactly what I manage to do as the “owner”.

When I left General Motors in 1982, I made $32,000 that year,
and knew I would have to be very patient to ever earn that kind
of money in retail. My co-workers there today are in the $60,000
to $70,000 range, and I am still trying to get back to my 1982

I think I would be safe to say that if you are looking for a
good, livable wage, retail is not the answer. I could give you a
list of other areas I love about our trade, but wages would not
be on there.


One source of & education for the beginner in the
gem-jewelry trade that I haven’t seen mentioned is any local
lapidary, rock, mineral clubs or the local or state jewelers
association. The clubs may not be dedicated to what a new person
wants to learn, but there’s probably a member or 2 that are
interested in the same area & they’d be happy to help a newbie
get started.

Another source of info is your local or county Parks &
Recreation dept. They may offer classes in the jewelry & lapidary
arts or have names of people or organizations that do. Don’t
forget to check local colleges, many of them offer non-credit
courses in jewelry & lapidary arts. Their instructors may also be
a source of info & education.

If the person is really ‘into gems & jewelry’ & money’s no
object, there’s always GIA. They offer classes, both on campus &
correspondence in many areas of the business.

I know some of the Orchid subscribers are mentoring inquisitive
young folks. How about the rest of us making it known to a high
school counselor or two that we’d be interested in helping a
student explore the gem & jewelry business.

If the schools in your area have a ‘Career Day’, volunteer to
give a talk on the gem & jewelry business or your area of
expertise. Many high school age youngsters don’t see the job of a
sales clerk as a very exciting or rewarding job. Let’s tell them
about the other areas of the jewelry trade. Of the satisfaction &
joy to be had by creating a bauble from precious metals & fine
gems, of turning a pretty piece of rock into a highly polished
gem that sparkles in the moonlight.

We can’t solve the ‘dumb clerk’ problem over night, but by doing
nothing we each contribute to it.


 hello, I have a question for all of you with knowledge on
soldering aluminium. What kind of solder do I need.?  

I have always been told to NEVER solder aluminum . . . I don’t
know why? Perhaps, others can fill in the details.

hello, I have a question for all of you with knowledge on
soldering aluminium. What kind of solder do I need.?

Years ago, I found Welco alloy and flux at the local welding
supply. I used a hoke torch and natural gas. Not a particularly
strong solder, but it was soldered. Stop by the nearest welding
supply house and ask.

Bruce D. Holmgrain
e-mail: @Bruce_Holmgrain
phone:: 703-593-4652

I’ve taken classes at local art centers which teach stone
setting (bezel and prong) but don’t teach how to make the prong
settings. Casting classes are taught at various Lapidary Stores
(in our area.) Working for “a nasty little guy” may not be a
bad idea, think of the experience one gathers (maybe the answer
is to find some “little guy, or gal” who isn’t nasty? I doubt
that any experienced Jeweler would pay a lot for someone who is
learning skills which they need (apprentice?). Any Income is
better (minimum wage pay) is better than paying for what you need
to know. I guess, there are always two ways of looking at
situations . .

Hi Mike:

Well, my father, a vetern of the retail jewelery business of 40
years, always said he would never become wealthy at it and he was
right! Seems the overhead and assorted taxes/insurance have a
way of keeping you down. Personaly, I’ve learned from his example
and will never be retail, at least not in the same way. As
stated in my previous letter, I’ve found that incorporating and
working as a contractor are much more to my liking. I make a
decent living and control my hours as my family comes first.
Also, it’s nice to be able to take trips to seminars and shows to
expand my knoweledge and write them off on the taxes. Currently,
I work out of my home primarily and for a local retailer 2 1/2
days a week and like it very much. He’s a younger fellow who is
doing well and is receptive to any idea I may propose as long as
he thinks it will sell. He lets me take care of the production
and he handles the sales. I’m sorry to hear things are not going
well for you. I don’t know what part of the country you’re in or
exactly what you are doing in the trade(repairs and or
design/fabrication) but I sure hope things turn around for you
soon. Sincerely appreciate your reply.

Be well;

Steve Klepinger

hello, I have a question for all of you with knowledge on
soldering aluminium. What kind of solder do I need.? 

G’day Christina; Aluminium soldering is tricky. For a start
although I remember trying to use so-called Al solders
purportedly for use with a soldering iron I never found them of
much use - difficult to use and not much stronger than PVC glue.
I have used special aluminium solders which come in thin (1/16)
rods (like silver solder for commercial use), together with a
special flux (borax, etc., doesn’t work) and one works very
carefully indeed with a torch. The melting point of aluminium
and the aluminium solders is very close, and much lower than the
dimmest red heat. One has to rely upon the flux just going
clear to see when to apply the solder. I’ve done it many times,
but like I said, it’s tricky. And beware the so-called “cold
aluminium solders” These consist of various ordinary glues
holding finely ground aluminium powder to give colour, and they
are no stronger than the glue base. Aluminium welding is a much
better option, but this needs special torches with inert gas
shrouding (argon) and an experienced hand. Motor repair shop
technicians are trained in the delicate use of aluminium welding
torches, and you might like to take their advice. When I find I
need to join aluminium to aluminium I first tend to try and think
whether I can do the job another way, and only use Al solder as
a last resort. Oh yes, and you can’t join aluminium to other
metals in the way that copper, brass, silver, gold, nickel, even
steel, etc can be soldered to each other. Aluminium is a nice
metal with a lot going for it, but believe me, it’s tricky too.

       / \
     /  /
   /  /
 /  /__| \      @John_Burgess2
(______ )       

At sunny Nelson NZ (in late winter/early spring with lambs, daffs,
tree blossoms)

Aluminum can be soldered but can be diffucult to do from my


Hi , there is a product advertised called allumaloy that is made
to solder aluminum only with no flux and must be heated to 750
degrees. Sincerely Chris
Buying & selling Antiques , Fine Jewelry & Collectibles


Having been on that side of the coin, I can sympathize.
Unfortuneately, many administrators seem to view being a bench
jeweler as a hobby rather than a career, and therefore feel
little need to compensate employees for their skill. Therein lies
my dilema. I can’t afford to pay what I consider a reasonable
compensation for an experienced bench jeweler. Defineately not
full time, and I’ve had no luck finding someone part time. I’m
working 60+ hours a week and still not keeping up with all
aspects of the business, so finding time to train someone seems
out of the question. One of the main advantages I have over my
competition is that all work is done on the premises, and that
seems to be a very important issue to my customers, so it is not
something I am willing to change.

At this point all I can do is have faith that the situation will
be resolved (hopefully before Christmas!!). In the meantime, I’d
better get back to my bench. 'Night all.

Sharon Z.

Check Orchid re the John Cogswell classes in Mesa AZ. John is a
terrific teacher and a real metal artist. If you can’t make
Mesa, try to contact him for possible classes in your area. He
taught a class at Cedar Lakes WV several years ago which I was
privileged to take, and really taught us a lot. Good luck.

Sharon Holt in hot hot hot New Mexico