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Filthy jewelry


#1

Ugh, I have read posts where Orchidians have commented upon the
dirty condition of some of the jewelry they are asked to repair. I
thought they were exaggerating. Well, I now know differently. I sold
a pair of pearls to a customer, and two weeks later she called to
tell me she had broken the clasp, and wanted me to fix them. She
brought them to me and I could see where the clasp was crushed. Now
how she could crush a lobster clasp is beyond me, but crushed it is.
I made no comment, but agreed to provide a new clasp,—which meant
restringing and knotting the pearls as I use closed jump rings, and
French coils. She also brought a sterling chain that she had managed
to break, and I agreed to repair it—even though she had not
purchased it from me. She is a very good customer, and, I don’t mind
doing these repairs at no charge.

However what really horrified me was the crud and dried makeup on
the chain, and also on the pearls which she only had for two weeks.
Ugh. I will put the chain in the ultrasonic, but will have to clean
the pearls with gentle detergent, a soft tooth brush and warm water.

So, my apologies to all of you who I thought were exaggerating when
you complained about the sorry state of some of the jewelry they
have been asked to repair.

Alma Rands


#2
She also brought a sterling chain that she had managed to break,
and I agreed to repair it---even though she had not purchased it
from me. She is a very good customer, and, I don't mind doing these
repairs at no charge. 

Now this is the way to run yourself right out of business in as
short a time as possible. I don’t care how good a customer is. When
they bring in someone else’s work, or something they purchased
elsewhere, they pay to get it repaired. Your own jewelry is one thing
(I actually never charge on my own work) but to do something for free
that you never sold says the following to your customer: My work
(time, labor) isn’t really worth anything at all. Go out and buy junk
somewhere and I’ll fix if for you for free because sometimes you buy
from me.

And then when she brings in something really complicated she’ll
expect that done for free too. Time to change the way you’re doing
business.

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


#3

Alma, for free? After two weeks?

I’m sorry, I know you didn’t ask about this and I’m probably butting
in and offering an opinion where one has not been solicited. You can
tell me to butt out!

But I just can’t seem to stop myself…

I would have charged her to restring and to replace any materials.
But that’s just me. What worries me is that you’re setting yourself
up to a life time of fixing her jewelry for free. If she can crush a
lobster clasp in two weeks, and she obviously don’t take care of her
jewelry, she’s going to need a lot of repairs down the line. By
fixing it for free within the first two weeks of purchase you are
setting a precedent which will be hard to change in the future.

At least charge her to repair the items that aren’t yours.

Now, if you have factored in repairs for life in the selling price
then I apologize, and you’re fine.


#4

Alma,

However what really horrified me was the crud and dried makeup on
the chain, and also on the pearls which she only had for two
weeks. Ugh. I will put the chain in the ultrasonic, but will have
to clean the pearls with gentle detergent, a soft tooth brush and
warm water. 

Even when it isn’t as gross as you describe, I make a point of
cleaning incoming jewelry before I work on it. A used chain will
really stink up the place if you’re trying to solder a break in it
and it’s got organic crud in the interstices, and the same thing
with my rings – there are so many crevices where stuff can hide.

Daniel already addressed the idea of working for free on work
purchased elsewhere, and stated it very well. You have to be fair to
yourself as well as to your clientele.

Loren
http://www.golden-knots.com


#5

Amery, You are absolutely right about charging for repairs, and
normally I would. However, this particular customer is a very good
one, who has been purchasing jewelry from me for over 20 years, and
has referred a lot of people to me. She comes to every show in which
I participate, bringing friends with her, and they always make big
purchases. Also, I have done a lot of commissioned work for her, and
she is very easy to work with giving me free reign as to the design.
Therefore, I am comfortable making an exception in her case. I chalk
it up to good will. My only complaint is that she is so careless with
her jewelry, and allows it to get into such a filthy state.

With any other customer, I certainly charge for re-stringing and
repairs. After all, it is an expenditure of time and money—but with
some customers the good-will is more important.

Alma


#6

Funny how threads morph, init?

My own take on freebies may seem odd to some. I like to look at the
big picture with a client. How do they spend, what may they spend and
what’s their attitude? I appreciate repeat business and I show that
with freebies. Its also a good way to ingratiate yourself with new
people.

You’ve seen all these free gift offers. To lure you in they give you
something free(at least theoretically). But its more than just to
get noticed by a prospect. Freebies subtly make the recipient feel a
debt to the giver. This makes them more inclined to give you new
business. Doesn’t work for every single person but enough to make it
worthwhile.

Yeah, there are customers who would take advantage of you and expect
free freebies forever, but there’s nothing preventing you from
calling a halt to it by simply explaining that past freebies were a
limited time offer. If they get offended who cares, they’re not doing
$ business with you anyway or else you wouldn’t be ending the
freebies for that person.

I’m not so much interested in making money in $5 clumps. If giving
$5 thingies here and there result in a few $1000 new sales…well
that’s OK with me. Its similar to advertising. You pay for X number
of people to see your ad but what you really want is for the right
person(s) to respond. And you don’t know who will respond until they
do.

Will this work in every market with every type of client? Maybe not.
But it works for me.

Filthy jewelry… yeah, meatloaf.


#7
Even when it isn't as gross as you describe, I make a point of
cleaning incoming jewelry before I work on it. A used chain will
really stink up the place 

When I started out making jewellery, I had no idea just how dirty
jewellery can get. You just don’t think much about it if you’re only
a jewellery wearer as opposed to a jewellery maker. I did routinely
clean my own jewellery with detergent and a soft toothbrush when it
wasn’t as sparkly as it should have been - but you just don’t think
much about it.

However, when friends and family learned of me making jewellery I
suddenly became everyone’s personal jeweller!!! Very strange indeed!
If I go and visit friends or family or if they come to me, there’s
almost always a request for me to clean or repair this or that or
make it smaller or bigger because they can’t wear it anymore. At
first, and rather naively, I would just go to work on whatever it was

  • but quickly realised that any dirt which arrived with the jewellery
    would just bake onto the piece if not cleaned off first. And once
    baked on, it was extremely difficult to remove. That’s when I decided
    to invest in my ultrasonic cleaner - one of my best purchases!

Obviously, now the first job at hand in such a process is a thorough
cleaning in my ultrasonic tank (as long as any stones are up to it).
If it contains stones which don’t “like” ultrasonic, I use the
cleaner’s heater and just dip and clean using a very soft
toothbrush, then rinse thoroughly. I do also make it a point to
mention to the owner that it will get thoroughly cleaned first
(they’re friends and family so they can take it) as subtly as
possible - so that they realise that their jewellery does from time
to time actually need to be cleaned. I get some funny looks as though
I’ve just insulted their personal hygeine and I then explain about
body oils, perfume, make-up, fake tan (one of the worst things ever
invented as far as I’m concerned - and NOT a good look!) and how they
can very quickly build up in the crevices of their jewellery, no
matter how clean they are, and that if I don’t clean it, the crud
will bake onto the jewellery and may never clean again. Okay, so I’m
maybe not as subtle as I could or should be? Their ruffled feathers
soon settle back down.

Decent before and after photographs of how filthy their jewellery
was might make them realise and perhaps they’d then attempt to clean
it before asking for it to be repaired. We can hope!

Helen
UK
http://www.hillsgems.co.uk


#8

Your client probably wears a lot of sunscreen on her neck and chest.
Depending on the type of sunscreen, it can stay quite greasy. You
might advise her to either use a gel type of sunscreen that dries
completely (by far the best solution), or dust over the sunscreen
with talc or some sort of powder to set it and reduce the chances of
it rubbing off on her jewelry.

She obviously loves to wear jewelry, and would probably be happy to
hear of a solution.


#9

Why not one day take her aside and give her a printed outline on how
to care for jewellery and perhaps give her a jewellery roll (they are
not very expensive) it may save her and you a lot of headaches and
expenses not necessary.


#10

Helen,

I found a good way to explain the gunk on jewellery that does not
insult the owner’s personal hygiene is to blame it primarily on soap
build up, that implies they are clean and healthy but they might
want to to take some time occasionally to at least rinse off their
jewellery more thoroughly; also they will happily believe that
burning soap smells awful and is bad for solder seams.

Norah
www.besmithian.com


#11

I’ve been away (wheeeee) for a week or so but just had to respond to
this. Once, years ago, a woman handed me a very old sterling
hairbrush. It was broken where the handle met the brush part. It was
also completely dripping and matted with hair. I was grossed out and
asked her to please bring it back to me clean. Thankfully, altho I
know there are those of you out there who would NEVER turn down work,
she never returned.

Likes it clean,
Lainie (home again home again in dark but beautiful FlaKeys)