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Employment frustration

Hello Everybody,

I have a question. Here is some of the backstory to the question.

Due to a series of unfortunate events, my family is currently
without my husband’s income, which had been supporting us. No job.
No insurance. And expecting blessing #3. The jewelry store will have
to wait for now. I’m not giving up, I’m just taking a different road
to get there.

I’ve hit the pavement to find myself employment in the jewelry
industry, figuring I have skills and training that are uncommon and
valuable. My figuring is correct, I believe, because I’ve walked
into three stores advertising positions only to find that they’re
struggling (with gritted teeth) to train apprentices. I’ve heard
over and over how their “guy” can’t size a ring. (This sort of
complaint makes me uncomfortable.)

I feel I have been jerked around on a few occasions. I’m not
noticeably pregnant, I merely look a little chubby. I’m not
concerned about maternity leave, my husband wants to be with the
kids, and the past two deliveries I’ve only taken a week off. (With
No. 1, I was landscaping.)

I have pave setting skills, soldering and repair skills, I can size
a ring (I get asked this, anxiously, over and over again- why don’t
they do a bench test and see for themselves?), I can reprong and set
and I can cast (I have no setup of my own, though), I can size,
clean-up, finish and set platinum; I can fabricate anything, I can
work wax models. My wax carving is sketchy. I’ve been happy with all
my carvings, but I feel I take too long to list this as a skill. I
want/need to put in some years at the bench in a jewelry store
proper - I feel this whole episode has been to show me how much I
have to learn about running a store. I have a resume, references,
and a JBT listing. And… nothing. I haven’t listed all of my
skills, here, but I can’t understand why stores are just talking at
me and not doing bench tests. Am I being impatient? Or is two weeks
normal before getting a bench test?

Any insight here? I go to the (sometimes multiple) interviews well
dressed, in a pants-suit and close-toed shoes-read to do a bench
test, my teeth are clean, I’m always early, and I take examples of
my work. The folks I interview with are inevitably enthusiastic, but
it seems as though there’s someone else who I don’t get to meet, who
is the decision maker, and I get blown off. No bench test, no phone
call. Why do these guys prefer to struggle with an apprentice
(always male- though this may not have anything to do with anything)
who can’t size a ring?

I’ve even researched the average jeweler’s salary for the Dallas
area, so I believe my salary requirements are in line with my region
and my skills and abilities.

Frankly, I’m more frustrated than anything. I want to use my
valuable skills, I don’t want to do landscaping (this isn’t the
right time of year, anyway).

Again, any insight? Advice is welcome; but I’d prefer to avoid the
"times are hard" spiel. This has been made clear to me in my own
situation. Besides, why are these guys advertising for a jeweler
when they aren’t hiring? I’ve gotten some tradework, but I’ll need
more before I can begin to make ends meet. Would it be worth it to
advertise for tradework in JCK or Professional Jeweler? All I’ve
been hearing is “business is slow, we’re all caught up. We’ve never
been this caught up.” (Okay, maybe only at two places, but another
two places haven’t returned my calls, and they’ve got my resume.)
I’ve even sent thank you notes, like Monster says to.

I’ve thought, maybe I’m overdressed, and therefore don’t look like I
know what I’m doing. (I’ve consistently been better dressed than my
interviewer, one of whom had a hole in his shirt. Another one was
missing a button - and I wasn’t sitting in a sweatshop-these were
nice stores.)

Seriously, I’ll fax my resume to anyone who wants to take a look at
it - maybe my typeface is offending people - you never know.
Seriously, I need advice/help/a pat on the head.

Thank you, you guys have all been consistently wonderful and
supportive; not just of me, but also of each other, and that means a

Susannah Page-Garcia
Moonshine Metal Creations

I would suggest you contact Vic Davis. He has a
very good agency servicing the jewelry trade and is a great guy to
deal with. He may have something for you. Hang in there!


Dear Susannah;

Boy, it sounds that you are definately qualified. I read and reread
your post and I have a few questions. Do you tell them right off the
batt that you have your own JBT listing? I think that there are a lot
of stores out there that don’t even have one. This may scare a few
folks off, you may seem overly qualified, they might just want a
grunt. Who can say?

If you go in looking better dressed than the sales staff, [not
necessarily the owner], you may be pitching your self to the wrong
place and you might be right about overdressing. but I personally
think that neat and clean and well dressed on time sounds to good to
be true. Today so many folks just seem so slack about these things.

You mentioned that you are pregnant and I fear that this is may be a
problem. No matter what you say, most folks [at least where I live]
would expect you to take many weeks off, and they might fear that you
are setting them up for major problems [in regards to having to look
for even more help later] if you or the baby get ill. They may wonder
why your husband is putting you in this bind as well stay at home
dads at least ehre would make lots of bells go off. That sounds cruel
and I don’t mean it to be in the least, really. I have a friend sho
is a jewler who was a stay at home dad for years. He did his art and
sold it at shows etc, it was perfect for their family. But they lived
in an enlightened town. Is Dallas enlightened?

However, I do have a suggestion that may help. Have you considered
offering trade work to these and /or other stores? This way you could
use your JBT number as an asset. Your being well dressed and on time
would always be an asset as well. If you have some references to help
show your honesty and professional standing, you could perhaps get
some places to give you bench work to do in you own location.

I have a friend in Atlanta who is doing this and is making piles of
money. He started out doing bench work for some small mall type
stores, sizing rings next day delivery etc. Then he started setting
diamonds next day delivery, then same week delivery etc. Now he has
hired folks to keep up with the demand he has created for his

If you can get some accounts, you may be able to work into some sort
of relationship with one or more stores that might lead to more
permanent employment. After the baby is here and you are more
settled [in the eyes of potential employers] you may be able to work
your way into a steady stable job with benefits etc. OR you may find
that being self-employed has its benfits.

Good luck Dennis


a jeweler here in NC recently had a newspaper article written about
his watchmaker, who he brought in from Central America. In order to
legally employ this person he had to prove that he ran ads for the
position for over a year and was unable to find an American who was
willing to take the position. He admitted in print that he had
several people apply but they wanted more money than he knew hew
would have to pay the gentleman he was planning on hiring. I had, in
fact, tried to get him to hire my brother, a certified Rolex

After the year he was able to legally hire his current watchmaker. I
couldn’t believe the article. The jeweler was so proud of the way he
exploited the system and his jeweler spoke eloquently of his
struggles to survive on his pay considering the high cost of living.
He was just happy that he wasn’t in Central America anymore and that
his kids were being educated in the US.

The point is that you never know the factors going into a job
interview. I’d be somewhat suspicious of a store that is supposedly
hiring but puts an obviously qualified applicant in Limbo.

I’d also advise to be patient and keep looking. Don’t just answer
ads from the paper. Go to stores and ask if they are looking to hire
a goldsmith. That’s how I got the best bench job I ever had! Leave
cards and resumes. Call every jeweler in the phone book. You never
know when you’ll find a jeweler who knows of a position that isn’t
being advertised. Sometimes private references can be the best. Good



This is a really hard question to answer without seeing or hearing
the interview. I’ve done alot of hiring in the technical fields and
can say there is much more to a hiring decision other than technical
ability. The persons language, mannerism, and non-technical aspects
often influence a hiring decision more than what they can do on the


Hello Everyone,

I have a bench test scheduled on Monday morning, at one of my first
choices. They are busy store. Thank you for all of the advice- I
intend to investigate everything suggested to me.

As for mannerisms, I took my husband’s advice. In the Academy, they
told the cadets to keep their hands folded on the table, look the
interviewer in the eye, and not gesture a lot. I also spoke clearly
and didn’t volunteer extra When asked about who watches
my children, I merely said “my husband,” and left it at that. When
they ask what he does, I say “He’s a licensed police officer,” which
is true, and I leave it at that. (He had an excellent reason for
leaving his position, one I cannot go into). I also do not mention my
pregnancy at all. I do smile. Now I’m worried that I come across as
some sort of undercover employment cop.

My JBT listing is on my resume, I do not announce it. I also have
good references. Why wouldn’t a store have a JBT listing? It’s next
to impossible to buy from better, reputable suppliers without some
kind of references or a listing.

I am interested in tradework, whether for artisans or stores, and
I’m looking into that. I figure the best way to earn trust would be
to show that I’m bonded, but I’m not quite certain what that means
or what that involves. Does that merely mean that I have insurance
for other’s valuables? Because I have that already. Or is there a
certification thing I have to do with the state? What would be the
proper protocol for listing that on my resume? Security-wise, I’m
covered: 'round the clock police protection. :wink:

As for the watchmaker-type scenario, I feel it’s better to give the
jewelers the benefit of the doubt. To suspect otherwise would just
make me ugly.

I sincerely hope no-one thinks I’m too good to be true (early, well
dressed, qualified) that’s just how I was raised, and not something
I can help. The guilt would be too much for me to deal with. Let’s
just hope the bench test produces something! I’m not worried about
the bench test, I’m worried about what they’ll do/say.

Again, thank you everyone. I am grateful for all your advice, and if
ya’ll think of anything else, I’m all ears!

Thank you,
Susannah Page-Garcia
Moonshine Metal Creations

I sincerely hope no-one thinks I'm too good to be true (early,
well dressed, qualified) that's just how I was raised, and not
something I can help. The guilt would be too much for me to deal

You sound like the perfect employee to me!! (We’re in SF and don’t
hire, though) It is a fact of life, also, that the jewelry world has
been male dominated for so long, and I say that as a male person,
that it has sometimes been slow to be otherwise. That could be a
factor, even if it’s unconscious on their part. There are plenty of
people who are “gender-blind”, though, and everyone “should” be
judged by their skills, it’s just finding that right spot to work.
You’ll do fine, I predict…

Hello, Everybody

I was on the highway to my bench test when the store called me and
told me they couldn’t afford to hire another jeweler this year
because they spent too much on advertising. Maybe in January, they

I came home, had a good cry, and now I’m preparing to blanket Dallas
with my resume, for trade work, employment, whatever.

I am letting everyone know that I’m ready and able to take on trade
work. I can size rings, set stones (I can set anything), and repair
fine and costume jewelry. I am very good at casting cleanup, chain
repair, soldering, and refurbishing. I am happy to send my resume
and references to anyone who is interested.

Again, everyone, thank you for your positive support - I am deeply

Susannah Page-Garcia
Moonshine Metal Creations


Just a thought - are you interviewing at the larger or chain jewelry
stores? My sense tells me they’d be the worst to deal with. A smaller
independent jeweler may not pay as much (or may pay more, you could
be surprised) and might be more accommodating because they don’t have
the bigger business “human resources” mentality.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055

Hello, Brian

I’m interviewing at all sizes. What I’m noticing is that they’re
excited over the phone, then when I show up suddenly they’re not
hiring jewelers this year, or I live too far away. (This was after
they gave me directions to their business.)

I’ve started going to stores and offering tradework services. I’m
still working on being bonded, have had a hard time learning about

So far, all I’ve been able to do is land a part-time gig (probably
good only through Christmas).

I am confused as to why my strong art-jewelry background is working
against me. Any ideas?

Thank you,

Wow… that is completely unprofessional, and completely messed up!! I
have to say you are probably waaaay better off not getting a job at
that place. How could they not know at the time of interview that
they did not have enough money to hire someone? Screw that… you
should be happy about that one… that was a ‘save’…



There are a few folks, I’ve seen their ads in the back of magazines,
and used one once years ago… they are like agents who find
employers and employees in the jewelry industry. Some big companys
only go through these agents and won’t look at someone off the
street. They use to charge the employer a fee. I’ll see if I can find
any ads later today… theres a gal in Atlanta. You might also look
in the backs of magazines there are always ad’s in there. Are you
willing to relocate?

I started in giftwrap once and then they worked me into to the shop
in baby steps.

Good Luck,

So far, all I've been able to do is land a part-time gig (probably
good only through Christmas). I am confused as to why my strong
art-jewelry background is working against me. Any ideas? 

I’m guessing. Does any of your background include:

  1. Lots of repairs
  2. Stone setting: prong, channel, bead?
  3. Any wax work, casting?

Most stores don’t need designers, but people who can

Can you?

David Geller

David Geller
510 Sutters Point
Sandy Springs, GA. 30328
(404) 255-9565

Hi Susannah;

I am confused as to why my strong art-jewelry background is
working against me. Any ideas? 

I think I have an idea. Back when I was pounding the pavement for a
job, I used to have what I thought was a drop-dead fantastic resume.
It began with all my fine arts degrees, then my exhibit history, my
teaching experience, and by page three you got to my rather extensive
experience in the retail jewelry trade. I thought my art background
was impressive. Well, to another art jewelry it would be. By the time
they got to page three, they had already drawn the conclusion that I
was a hobbyist. Besides, more than two pages is too long for a resume
unless you’re after a certain kind of position, like U.N. Ambassador.
Fact is, I was accomplished both as an art jeweler and a retail bench
man. Finally, someone said, “we’re not looking for an art fair
jeweler”. I thought about that. Maybe my fantastic resume was a
little too good to believe. I then started to keep two resumes. The
art stuff was for any prospective teaching job, and the one I
presented to the retailers was only about my commercial background.
And I stopped listing every piddly little sweat shop I’d worked in
and only listed the better positions. If anyone asked about the blank
spots in the dates, I told them I had worked for short periods in
situations that didn’t work out for various reason, most beyond my
control (which was true).

I hope you don’t take this personally, but if they are seeing, at
the top of your resume, your business name, "Moonshine Creations"
they are likely to draw a couple conclusions, neither good. First,
they are likely to think you are an “artsy-fartsy” creative type. Not
that there’s anything wrong with that. It’s just that retail jewelry
business is a conservative genre. They mostly like business minded
people and vote Republican (against their own best interests, in my
opinion). Second, they are going to think you are holding on to the
idea of having your own business, which means you might not really
think you need a job, or you might just be getting your foot in the
door of their market with the objective of one day becoming a

In short, you may, as I did, think your creative side is your best
foot to put forward. It is an exceptional jewelry business owner who
will agree. They like buzz words they hear at Rotary like “team
player” and “good fit” which basically means, you know your place:
You are blue collar, they are white collar, or worse,
“entrepreneurs”. And they want someone who knows more about jewelry
than they do. They just don’t want someone who will remind them of
this fact. You should appear to be a good problem solver whenever,
but only, when it’s required. You see, you are likely to be
interviewed by a manager, whether it’s an actual manager or the
store owner. Since these people don’t spend nearly as much time
learning management as you have learning jewelry, they mostly
micro-manage. They don’t need someone who will make them feel
redundant, even when they are. You will get the job if they think you
can make them look good, either to the boss or the customer.
Actually, there’s nothing wrong with that, I suppose. I happen to
like making both bosses and customers happy. I’d make a good
employee, up to a point. That being, I have this compulsion, no, a
drive…it’s hard to explain. Lets just say, I want to some day make
the best jewelry I possibly can. That doesn’t set well with
employers. They don’t know if you really mean it, and hope you don’t,
I think. So don’t say anything like that unless you’re wagging a
tail. Catch my drift here?

Another issue is this: Most employers, especially these days, are
terrified of a commitment to a new hire. They want to test the
waters. You should make it clear that you are willing to work for
them for a trial period, no promises from either party, and you’ll
sign a contract to that effect. (Of course, read anything you sign
carefully, first). Use the phrase, “well, I’ m one of those people
who is willing to negotiate”. Why not? Worst case, either you don’t
like them or they don’t like you and you’re still looking for a job
but at least you made a little money in the meantime. Best of luck,
and do, by all means, call up Vic Davis. He knows this trade.

David L. Huffman


Possibly you’re trying too hard and creating suspicion ?
Interviewers might be wondering what’s up. Don’t forget that you’re
interviewing them too. Make them sell you on coming to work for them.
It usually catches them off-guard. Just a thought… I assume you
mean that you need to be bondable, which simply means that you are
free of past criminal activity.

Brian Corll
Brian Corll, Inc.
1002 East Simpson Street
Mechanicsburg, PA 17055


I have been watching the back and forths on this thread and I think
there is some other problem going on with your interviewing. The
reasons you are getting from the prospective employers are not the
real reasons they aren’t hiring. Distance to work, suddenly not
hiring (after interviewing) this year, etc. are the reasons they are
telling you but there is something else going on that is turning them
off to you. Could be that you are a woman (although I have always
found women bench workers to be as good as or better than most men)
or it could be that you are a strong woman (in my area this is
considered a positive, but then I’m in one of those states where we
believe in true equality) or it could be some way that you are
coming across in the interview. Perhaps that you know so much is not
something you should be laying out there as it is often scary for
someone who has gotten by over the years without knowing too much
(which is the case with an awful lot of traditional jewelers). It can
be considered a threat to them in some ways. Or perhaps you interview
really badly. I can’t tell you since I’m not there and I haven’t
talked to you but I think you might want to talk to someone who can
coach you in the interview process (there are people out there who do
just that). In the meanwhile there is always trade work, but I would
see if you could get some help and then keep looking for a job.

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

I once interviewed for a job and the interviewer volunteered that
she was glad that I didn’t go to (name of major art school in
Chicago) because those students/graduates thought they owned
everything. She said she told one of them to “make a box,” and the
person wanted to know if they would own the copyright.

Maybe you’re encountering some of that.

Maybe it’s sexism and racism.

Maybe it’s fear of an outsider.


Elaine Luther
Metalsmith, Certified PMC Instructor
Hard to Find Tools for Metal Clay

Daniel you bring up some great points. I didn’t think about the
whole issue of laying out everything you know right away, and you
are absolutely correct in that it could be a major ‘threat’ to
someone. Obviously to the person interviewing it seems the right
thing to do, but you don’t know what’s going on inside the other
persons head, who else is working there, where THEY got their skills
from (or how skilled they are), etc etc… I mean if you are
interviewing for a bench jeweler position, and you know more than
the manager of that department do you think they will hire you? I
bet they won’t. I know MANY IT shops purposely don’t hire the most
skilled person because they don’t want to deal with the ego, etc
later down the line. If they knew you better and felt that you would
just teach people what they don’t know then it might be different.
Another thing is if they are asking the old ‘where do you see your
self in 2, 5, or 10 years’? We used to ask this and always got
strange answers like “I want to manage a department” or “I want to
be a manager somewhere”, etc… this always invoked the ‘they want my
job’ mentality in the person hiring.

Anyway, maybe you should do what Daniel says and not throw
everything out there right away, and if it does come out explain
also how you love to teach and be part of a team. Team players are
one of the biggest ‘MUSTS’ these days. No one gets by on their own,
and no one wants a ‘loner’ no matter how good they are (well, most
don’t… I know I don’t…).

Good luck!


Hello again fellow jewelers. On the topic of employment opportunities
for accomplished, well trained, neatly dressed and professional
Jewelers. I know of a opportunity in New Hamshire for a shop manager.
Anyone interested should be qualified and contact me at my e-mail

Hello, Daniel,

I think the main problem is that my baby belly frightens employers.
I am pregnant, and since I “popped” last week I’m obviously so. I
look like the number 6.

I have talked to interview coaches and gotten their advice, and
followed it. I’ve had no trouble in the past with getting hired
anywhere, so I’m concluding it’s my pregnancy, which they can’t
legally reject me over.

It’s also very likely that I am intimidating. And to be honest, at
4’ 10" that’s a tantalizing thought! :wink:

My platinum skills are not as strong as my gold ones, so I’ve been
thinking of buying a platinum shank with a princess-cut head and
assembling the head and shank, then setting the princess cut so that
I could then take the ring with me to interviews.

I think part of the problem, too, is that there’s a disconnect
between the jewelry industry and art jewelry. One head hunter even
asked me, “Well, since most of your experience is with art jewelry I
guess that means you don’t have any experience with precious
stones?” I had to explain that the opposite is actually the truth,
at least for me. I told him about an 18kt gold lion ring I’d cast
that I then set with 3mm emerald cabs in bead settings. So, I
wonder, should I start to refer to artists I’ve worked for as
"stores?" To me, this seems dishonest. Gold and platinum behave the
same, whether they are in a studio or a store.

There is trade work, and I’m willing to do that, but at this moment
my Alex has decided he wants to go back to San Antonio, so I’m going
to have to start all over again there. Which is extra frustration
because here, at least, I’d set up a part-time gig with a store.
(After a bench test with no pickle-pot, mystery metal scrap for
sizing, no flex-shaft handpiece, and no torch-tip. The jeweler had
fled many months before.) Now I look like a flake. My supervisor
there told me he was impressed with my work, and he said if I needed
anything he’d be glad to help. So I have that, at least.

I’m thinking, for now, perhaps it would be better if I waited until
after I’ve delivered. Then, when I look less like a Christmas
ornament and more like an employee who doesn’t need a six-week
vacation, I can try again. To be honest, though, I’m thinking of
taking Alex to the Humane Society. :wink:

Thank you, everyone, for all your help -I hope I can repay your
kindnesses someday.