Gallery breakage

Hi all,

I would like your thoughts on gallery breakage. I recently had my
jewelery in a store on consignment. The store owner inspected my
items upon receiving them. They had these pieces since December 19,
2004. This last week they returned a double cuff bracelet with inlay
ed stone to me. The bracelet had been bent out of shape, one stone
fallen out and another stone chipped. The bracelet now has a stress
crack on the underside. It is basically ruined.

The store owner will not take responsibility for the bracelet. They
say that it has only been in the show case and safe. That no one has
looked at it. They said only two of them work there and haven’t
shown the bracelet. I showed them a photo of the bracelet I took
just before giving it to them. It was not in that condition. I asked
them to ex pain how the damage could have been done if it was only
in the showcase. They said they couldn’t explain it. They refused to
pay for the bracelet. So I removed all of my jewelry from their
store. Interesting note, as I was leaving the store, the owner
mentioned that she had just sold one of my bracelets last weekend. (
It was the same style bracelet with no inlay)

Also, I was told that this store owner is creating knock offs of a
well respected jewelry artist who has his jewelry her store. In
essence, a customer comes in, sees a broach that is priced at
$700.00 doesn’t want to pay that price, so the store owner, pays an
unknown jeweler to make a knock off of it, and sells it to the
customer at half the price. I have no real proff of this. If I did I
would tell the artist. Its just been told to me by another jeweler.

Any comments???
Janet Alexander

Speaking as a gallery operator this is not good practise nor does it
demonstrate good faith towards the artist.

I would definitely let the other jewellers know about your situation
and warn them about the possibility of these things happening. You
have direct experience to point to, not just hearsay.

Anything lost or stolen or broken in our store is automatically
reimbursed to the artist and the gallery then is the proud owner. We
have this policy perhaps because we are artists ourselves and we
have also experienced unscrupulous practises by gallery dealers.

Do you have a signed consignment agreement? Maybe this should have a
picture of the work attached to it.

Beware beware beware is the adage that an artist has to take when
leaving your work on consignment anywhere.

Perhaps small claims court? We have that here in Canada.

Good luck.
Susan Brandoli
Rare Earth Designs

Dealing with galleries on consignment is a study in faith - for both
sides. I used to own a gallery, and have been an artist for over 30
years, so have experienced both ends. Reputable galleries carry
insurance, genuinely care for the work and the artists, and do their
best both to sell the work and to see that it is taken care of
properly. Reputable artists make work that is quality construction,
able to stand up to the use it is intended for.

Unfortunately, neither all galleries nor all artists are genuinely
reputable, and sometimes each side gets burned. As a gallery owner
I never ran into a disreputable artist - my great good fortune! I
carried insurance on the works in my gallery, with a deductible. I
only had works damaged twice - once a package of gorgeous pots
arrived damage. It was quite obvious that some idiot at UPS had
driven a fork-lift into the box! I had a terrible time getting UPS
to pay on it, but kept at them until they did. So the artist got
paid for the destroyed work. The other time was a painting. I
arrived one morning to find the painting crashed onto the floor! To
this day I have no idea how it happened. The hanging wire was still
securely on the painting, the hanger was in the wall— but the
painting lay damaged on the floor. Go figure. My insurance did
cover, less the deductible. I debated internally on how to handle
the deductible, and finally decided that although I didn’t see how
anything I had done had contributed to the damage, it certainly
wasn’t anything the artist had done either, and it HAD happened in
my gallery. So I ate the deductible and the artist got full
consignment value for the destroyed piece.

I always checked work as it arrived, and let artists know
immediately if something arrived damaged. I can’t imagine this
gallery having not done so also. They sound to me like a place you
are better off without. If you are really concerned about this
happening again, you might enclose with each shipment a list of
items for the gallery owner to check and return to you certifying
that all of the items arrived in proper condition, with place for
their signature and date. Then they could not come back later and
say it arrived damaged. They would have to accept that it was
damaged while in their care. This does NOT mean that you will get
paid for the damaged piece - if they are sleazy they will try to
wiggle out of responsibility no matter what they have signed.

Good luck with future gallery relations! Please do not brand all
galleries as bad because a few are.

Beth in SC

When a gallery takes an item on as consignment they are legally
becoming responsible for it’s condition and are liable for damages.
Now you DID have a WRITTEN contract right? Check your contract.
America’s Only cameo Artist

It’s been my experience that terms of a consignment should be agreed
upon BEFORE items are left. (Good lesson for the future) But, that
said, I believe you have a strong case if you wanted to pursue it in
small claims court.

Regarding your 2nd point about the owner copying pieces: I used to
work for a man whose cases were filled with pieces left on
consignment by local artists. If a customer showed interest in one
of the pieces, he would quickly render a similar design and tell
them he could make a very similar piece at a lower price (knowing
there would be more profit in it for him that way). Word got out
and he was out of business in about 18 months after everyone pulled
their pieces from the gallery.

Why don’t you send in a spy? Someone the owner doesn’t know and see
if after they complain that a price it TOO high, they are offered an

As a gallery owner and Jewelry artist, I would also say that this
gallery is not the kind that I would want to deal with.

We have always paid our artists for damage, whether it was done by
customers, or us (yes, things do break once in a while due to
accidents) I have also had to repair work of other artists (in
our gallery), and I do this without charge to the customer. I also
notify the artist and mention that they may want to improve the
quality of materials if it happens more than once.