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Gallery misunderstanding?

So here’s my story…

Went into an amazing gallery recently. Found some jewelry that I
loved and my husband, who never gets to buy me jewelry has been
asking what I want for my upcoming b-day. I usually don’t wear a lot
of other designer jewelry mainly because I already have so much of my
own! But I fell in love with some pieces, and the designer happened
to be there and she was awesome and I decided that my hubbie had to
get me one of these pieces.

So, I asked the owner if she could write down the style #'s for me so
my hubbie could come in and get me a piece for my b-day. She said
she could do me one better, and color copy the pieces so my hubbie
could just come in with a picture and there would be no confusion.
Awesome, great, all set.

So, she goes in the back to copy it, and I’m talking to the designer
who compliments me on one of my rings, which happens to be one of my
pieces. I thanked her and said: “I have a confession to make, I also
make jewelry. I usually don’t buy it, because I make it, but I love
your pieces and your style and it’s a technique that I would never do
myself. Your pieces are like little works of art. I love that I got
to meet you, and I appreciate what you do and need to have a piece.”

We talked for another minute about casting (which is what I do, not
what she does), and the owner came back out with a postcard with
style numbers. “My copier is on the blink, so I wrote down the style
numbers for you.”

The designer says: “Did you know that Amery also makes jewelry?”

Owner: “yes, I heard”

So I left with style numbers in hand, feeling a little weird.

Earlier she had brought other pieces to the back to photocopy for the
designer, I’m pretty sure the photocopier was working then.

I felt slighted, and a little dirty. I totally understand that the
owner is trying to protect her designers from people ripping them
off, I’m pretty sure she didn’t give me a picture because she heard
me say I was a designer. I felt like she thought I was going to run
out and copy the designs. How does she know I won’t? She doesn’t, I
understand her need to protect her designers. But, if that was my
intent, would I tell them that I’m a designer? Probably not. And, I
didn’t ask for the pics, she offered, and then she didn’t want to do
it when she found out who I was. I did look up the designer on the
web and found many pics of her work, much better quality than her
copier would have done. So, if I was going to copy, I could pull it
off the web, easier and better quality. Not that I would do that, but
it kinda defeats the purpose of not giving me a pic.

It kinda ruined the whole experience for me.

Oh, and the ring I really liked is a one-of-a-kind, so I can’t get it
any other place than at this gallery.

I’m trying really hard to see the owner’s point of view, but I’m
having a hard time not feeling discriminated against for being a
designer. I’m trying not to overreact to the situation, my husband
thinks I’m being sensitive. Which I might be, but I’m an artist-
isn’t that my right? (hee hee!)

I’m not sure if I want a reminder of the store owner, but I want a
reminder of the designer, she was really neat, and that ring is

Okay, open forum, fire away. Am I being crazy and making a mountain
out of a molehill?


Amery Carriere Designs
Romantic Jewelry with an Edge


Owner: "yes, I heard" 

This kind of thing has happened to me before…the “oh, you’re a
designer?” and then silence because there I am, all by myself all of
a sudden. Can’t control what other people think though.

So I left with style numbers in hand, feeling a little weird.

I would still get the ring from the gallery. The artist (that you
met and thought was really cool) will get a benefit from the sale.
Darwin’s theory and the economy will take care of the gallery owner.

I felt slighted, and a little dirty. 

Don’t feel that way. You were probably wearing at least one of your
own designs. The gallery owner obviously spotted it and, when she
found out you were the maker, was very threatened by your talent. You
should be proud you’re considered a threat.

This kind of thing happens. I don’t really see any way around it so,
if I were you, I would just let it roll off my back.


As a gallery owner, and someone who fabricates one of a kind
pieces… my opinion would be that you’re being overly sensitive, and
maybe over-reacting. I have to admit that my copier (fax machine
combo) has failed numerous times at the worst of times. I’d suggest a
return visit, and see what the reaction is this time.

OK, if you like the jewelry buy it.

Although I don’t agree with the owner of the stores reaction and
attitude change I can understand it. Lots of ‘artists’ rip people
off all of the time. But… she was still tacky. I think that you
should write a little note to the artist telling her that you seldom
buy other peoples work but you like her work so much you just have to
have it. I would send her a photo of your work so that she can see
how different your work is as well just to be engaging…

I would tell the owner that you were a little more than offended by
her attitude but since you love the piece you are over looking her
poor salesmanship. I would also tell her that you found the work on
the web so she ought to think about how she treats potential
customers in the future. In fact, could you buy that piece online,
directly through the designer? I would be as friendly as possible,
there is no need to be nasty but honesty is the best policy. Who
knows maybe you will strike up a friendship with the great jeweler.


Just consider this. The gallery owner doesn’t know you from Adam. You
know you wouldn’t do it. She doesn’t even consider what you believe
about yourself. She only knows what’s in front of her: a designer
with the potential of copying. From her non-designer (my guess) and
non-jewelry-maker perspective, she’s looking at protecting her
designers, and rightly so. But it has absolutely nothing whatsoever
to do with you personally. Like they say in “You’ve Got Mail,” it’s
not personal, it’s just business (or something like that). Some would
say don’t tell them you are a designer, just purchase what you want
and keep it to yourself. Others (myself) would say didn’t you enjoy
sharing what you do? Didn’t the designer enjoy sharing with you about
your mutual passions? Which scenario contained more positive energy,
which offered more joy?

That the gallery owner inserted some negative into the mix is not
unusual, coming from her perspective.

Just remember, any other designer or person could have walked in the
door and she would have done the same thing. Don’t take it
personally. Take the joy you received in sharing with the designer
and let that live and grow. And understand the gallery owner’s
perspective and insert a little grace and understanding. It goes a
long way to feeding the joy.



I understand how you felt. I have a jewelry store and we feature
different jewelry artists work and it is interesting that people come
in and ask how to get in touch with an artist, or ask about how
something is made, or ask where to buy materials (mostly gemstone
beads). Some questions are okay, and some questions are because they
are “shopping” us, with every intention of coping something. I have
has people who come in and ask questions, and I ask if they make
jewelry and they say yes, and I ask how they market, and they say
they do jewelry parties.

If you left with the info you needed to communicate to your husband
what you liked and he can go back and pick something for you, the
rest of the story about how you were treated is a story, and you do
not know that the copier was not broken.

Sounds like some speculation on your part about their behavior, and
if you were honest and know what your intention was, I would not
spend much time being a victim. My wife and I work really hard for
what we have, and although imitation is supposed to be a form of
flattery, it seems to just piss us off when some people are so
blatant about it. When you say you try to see both sides, if you do
not have a retail store and experience the reality of the effects of
competition and this economy, you can’t see both sides. It seems to
me, that if someone thinks someone is doing something that makes
money, people want to steal or copy anything they can to compete.

Many years ago, my wife and I, excited to see the work of several
people we know who make jewelry in one gallery in Santa Fe, told the
salesperson that we know some of the artists, and that we had a
jewelry store in Denver. The owner was in the room. From that point
on, the owner was outright rude, at one point asking my wife to move
so another customer could look at what my wife was looking at. We
could have been in the market to collect, she did not know if we
would purchase something, but she seemed to be clear about how she
felt having us in her store. It was really upsetting at the time, but
I have more understanding for her behavior.

I believe that while I am not rude, if someone is shopping us, I
have a profound loss of interest in helping them. Over time a sense
is developed that tells me when someone is shopping for something to
buy or shopping for info and they are a TW. Time Waster. Time
Wasters get left alone and do not get any more attention.

It is a fairly easily learned skill to ask questions to quality your
customer and determine what they are looking for and if you can help
them find what they need. Are they shopping or buying? And Amery, I
cannot tell you how many times a women spends a long time looking at
different pieces of jewelry, and at the end, she says she is going
to mention it to her husband…and we never see him. Just part of
retail, but hearing that phrase can make your brain hurt, as you
realize you just wasted a lot of time. If you found the work of
another artist that you would love to own, and would love to wear,
and your husband would love for you to have it, please stay with
that part, you are supporting yourself and another artist, and you
are solving your husbands problem of what to get you that he knows
you will like, and as I tell my customers, quoting Dr. Phil…“men
need the dots close together…and connected.” Or as I say it, men
need to be aimed. Hope this helps your perspective.

Richard Hart

Okay, open forum, fire away. Am I being crazy and making a
mountain out of a molehill? 

I don’t think you’re making a mountain, I think you just had a
reality check, though. Every once in a while we get a job to copy
somebody else’s piece - very often the store name begins with “T”.
They want the design, but just don’t want to pay the overhead. Yes, I
know it’s evil. Then they say, “Maybe you could go to the store and
look at it…” Which is to say, "Maybe you could go wallow in mud."
So, we go, sometimes, and pretend we are looking for a birthday
present or whatever, and have a bad taste in our mouth all the while.
It’s one of the main reasons why jewelry sites use Flash instead of
HTML - the photos are not downloadable without a fair technical
ability. Or right clicking is disabled, and when you do you get a box
that says, “All designs are copyrighted.” No, you did nothing wrong,
but the gallery owner was just behaving normally, too. I just don’t
tell anyone what I do. I’m an “Artist”, or a “Designer”, and that’s
it. Now if one just falls into a conversation and it comes up, that’s
different. But don’t be surprised if photocopies of designs
mysteriously dry up, too. It’s just life.

Hi Amery,

Look at the situation from their point of view:

  1. Customer X comes in and looks at jewelry, says that they love the
    jewelry, spends a lot of time looking at the jewelry, discussing it
    with the artist, but says nothing about being a jewelry designer.

  2. Customer X doesn’t buy any of the one of a kind pieces, that may
    not be there after that day, (I don’t know about that artist, but I
    rarely repeat one of a kinds, mainly because It never comes out the

  3. Gallery owner, hoping to make a future sale, goes out of her way
    to make a photocopy of the one of a kind work for potential customer
    X which will give Customer X the exact design and details

  4. Customer X, in speaking to the designer of the work, just happens
    to admit in passing that she is a jewelry designer, but only after
    the designer admires Customer X’s own ring.

  5. Customer X still isn’t buying anything, has taken up a
    considerable amount of designer and owner’s time and will now be
    going back to their studio to do who knows what with the photocopy.
    Is she actually a buyer? Who knows…she sure isn’t buying

I wouldn’t have made a copy for you either. As you were not up front
about who you are right from the start and didn’t buy any of what
you describe as one of a kind pieces, why the heck would I go out of
my way to help you along in possibly copying my work…? Copying is
not uncommon as many of us know too well.

Just a suggestion, but next time you plan on shopping with another
jeweler, let them know right from the get go that you are a
designer. Progress to the “I want to buy your work because I love it
so much” next. Then buy the work. That way there is no
misunderstanding. If you just want to talk, then again tell them up
front that you are a designer. Gives them the option to chit chat
about technique or whatever with you, or to go on to other things or
other actual customers. You are in the same line of work, you should
know better.

Other jewelers do this all the time with me at shows.They tell me
right up front that they are a jeweler so that there are no
misunderstandings about intent. I have some nice conversations, I
have made some good friends. I tell them how I make things if they
ask, and write down sources for them. They share things with me as
well. We all have a grand time talking. Sometimes, they buy a piece
of my work. I am always flattered.

It is the people that do not mention that they are jewelers up front,
but later on in passing, that earn my suspicion and cause me to shut
them off. Possibly what happened there. You are not, “just another
customer” you are another jeweler. Discrimination? Hardly. The
gallery owner acted sensibly. Sounds like your husband is right.

Lisa, (Still getting chillier dang it…So when is summer coming
back???) Topanga, CA USA

Okay, open forum, fire away. Am I being crazy and making a
mountain out of a molehill? 

No, of course not, but I think trhe owner handled it in a fairly
reasonable manner-- erring on the side of caution, even though all
that you say is true (like, you wouldn’t have announced your being a
designer if you were planning to rip of the design). A delicate
situation for the owner, since the designer was right there. She
might have caught hell from the artist after you left if she gave
out the image, but was not likely to get in trouble by being

By the way, I am currently staying for a few days in Door County,
WI. I went into a gallery this morning that was highly recommended
by my host. It was quite nice, an assortment of painting, glass,
sculpture and jewelry. I only saw names of two jewelers out of all
they had. On my way out, I commented that it would be nice to have
the jewelers’ names with their work. The clerk looked surprised,
shrugged, and said, “Oh, we have so many…”

I wish I had pointed out that they had a lot of painters too! I was
really steamed. I did say, “Don’t you think they still desrve
credit?” but she wasn’t listening. Grrrrrr.


Hello, Amery,

To give the owner the benefit of the doubt, copiers do go bonkers
from one copy to the next.

Here’s an interesting exercise: if she was a man and said all the
same things, would you feel the same way? Are you maybe expecting
her to be more sympathetic/intuitive because she’s a woman?

I would feel exactly the same way. It’s never a good feeling to be
suspected of something by someone else, whether their position is
understandable or not. I have been in your shoes, and all I can tell
you is this: you know what she may be thinking isn’t true, you know
who you are, and therefore what she thinks of you doesn’t matter.
Don’t give her any more of your power.

My two cents’ worth,

Susannah Page-Garcia
Moonshine Metal Creations

OK, Amery.

Speaking from middle ground here. Yes, you can feel slightly
insulted, but give it up now. The owner’s offer to make you a copy
was probably made without thinking through the ramifications…
copying offers may not be made in the future now that the idea of
creating/“stealing” the design from the photocopy is in her head.
You pegged the owner as being protective of the artist - a pretty
good thing. I’ll bet she is protecting her sale as well.

The better question is: would you want the gallery owner representing
your work???

Judy in Kansas, who never could make a good copy - better to buy the


I know you felt hurt, and insulted, but at the same time the gallery
owner was taking care of the artist, which is her major concern. She
did not know you or the fact that you are an honorable person, and
she had no intention of hurting you. Her prime concern at the time
was the need to protect her artist.

She may at some time have had some bad experiences with designs
being copied, and was reacting instinctively. Don’t take it
personally. And don’t let it ruin the experience for you. Buy the
ring, and enjoy it.

In fact, if you ever do consign your own work, hers would be a good
gallery to be in, as you would know that the owner has the best
interest of her artists in mind.


Hi Noel,

Regarding galleries not having jewelry labeled the way paining is: I
intended to write a piece for LJ on Mendocino as a jewelry lover’s
paradise. A couple of the galleries I wanted to feature don’t label
their jewelry–and the owner of one actively discouraged me from
writing the piece. He said that people come in, try things on, then
look up the designer’s name on the internet and try to get a better

I don’t know if he’s paranoid, but I just noticed another gallery
that has stopped labeling jewelry. I didn’t ask, but this is a small
village, and people talk to each other. I wonder if this "unlabeling"
might be spreading elsewhere, for the same reason.

Lisa Orlando
Albion, CA, US ( a few miles from Mendocino, a jewelry lover’s paradise!)

I would tell the owner that you were a little more than offended by
her attitude but since you love the piece you are over looking her
poor salesmanship. I would also tell her that you found the work on
the web so she ought to think about how she treats potential
customers in the future. In fact, could you buy that piece online,
directly through the designer? 

This response is a defensive approach, and rife with criticism,
based on the speculation of the perceived attitudes by Amery, with
no actual proof of the intention of the gallery owner or the artist.
The advice to approach the artist and circumvent the gallery, in my
opinion, is the worst advice. Improper behavior to cut the gallery
owner out the transaction. How would you like someone being disloyal
to you that you were supporting? In my opinion, a defensive position
is usually the response to criticism. A downward spiral.

If Amery were honest and told someone how she felt and got a
response, then she would know the reality of the situation.

Amery does not know how the gallery artist or the gallery owner
really felt by communication with them by asking them if her
perception was the truth.

I have asked people what they thought or how they felt about things,
and it was my misperception of their behavior and/or my own paranoia
that led me to believe someone was acting some way toward me when
they were not reacting to me at all. Sometimes we are victims of our
own minds.

Richard Hart

It's one of the main reasons why jewelry sites use Flash instead
of HTML - the photos are not downloadable without a fair technical
ability. Or right clicking is disabled, and when you do you get a
box that says, "All designs are copyrighted." 

All useless, by the way, since one can always take a screen shot if
the aim is to have an image to refer to while copying someone’s


Just curious… Why the need to tell the jeweler you are a designer
and why the need for photos of the piece if you have no interest in
wanting to copy it? Seems to me the Jeweler is trying to protect
themselves and their sources. Isn’t that what you would like a
jeweler representing your work to do?


Manage a trois

  1. The gallery owner-- needed to get as many photo copies out into
    the world as possible. The goal is to sell the piece AND the artist.
    All she needed to do was to stamp or emboss “copyright 2006 artist
    or gallery” on the photo copy, and of course add info about
    purchasing the piece. Lots of free ad space on the back of that copy.

If the copy machine was down, then she needed to offer to send a
copy through the mail to the customer, adding the customers name and
address to the gallery’s mailing list.

If the gallery owner forgot to do this, then the customer needed to
request a copy and offer to add name to mail list.

  1. The Artist-- needed to offer a workshop on producing the designs
    found on display in the gallery. For a fee, other jewelers can copy
    and learn how to produce one of a kind designs. Oh yes, she will make
    MUCH MORE MONEY and elevate Her status by offering either a book or
    workshop. Also, she could offer casting or other business to business
    service to other jewelers. The ONLY time an artist must keep a design
    or idea a secret is BEFORE the final piece is completed. (Many
    for this, but that is another thread). After that, it belongs to the
    world, and the artist moves on to new creative projects. Of course if
    it has mass production potential, then patent the design.

  2. The customer-- ? Unpredictable. Some of my best sales were to
    others in the business, AND YES, SOME WILL COME BACK, AND BUY! Do you
    want the Piece? Rise above petty jalousies, fears, unfounded
    emotions, treat your business as a business.

ps. My goal is to turn this business into a creative pastime, a
hobby. I am almost there.

Will E.

Thanks everyone for your input! I feel a little embarrassed about my
initial reaction.

A few days later and I’m thinking, who says in her shoes I wouldn’t
have done the same thing? Or maybe the copier was on the blink. Yeah,
she doesn’t know me from Adam, how can she expect to trust me? It was
indeed a reality check. I normally do identify myself as a jewelry
designer when talking to other artists, so this hasn’t ever happened
to me. At a wholesale show I always identify myself and ask
permission before I even stop in front of a booth. I don’t really
know why I changed protocol this time, perhaps because it was a
retail store, and I don’t really shop for jewelry, so I wasn’t in the
habit of introducing myself before the conversation even starts. I
didn’t really think I’d find anything in my taste and price point
when I first walked in. It’s a very high end gallery, and a lot of
the pieces aren’t everyday wearable art. Well, at least not to me,
I’m pretty casual.

I am sensitive, perhaps sometimes overly so, and it was just after
the full moon. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

So, my dear hubbie has the postcard with the info on it to do as he

Thanks everyone! Amery in Los Angeles (where the squirrels have taken
over the back yard and are bombing my dog with unripe avocados! I
wish I had a video cam handy.)

Amery Carriere Designs


that has stopped labeling jewelry. I didn't ask, but this is a
small village, and people talk to each other. I wonder if this
"unlabeling" might be spreading elsewhere, for the same reason. 

I have run into the “unlabeling” as well. I think it’s fine for the
gallery to do this. I don’t have the following as of yet where I
just move on to other galleries if I come across one that will not
advertise my name. However, I was told a long time ago that the
surest way to get myself dropped from a gallery would be to sell my
things on a website for a lower price than that found in the
galleries. IMHO, the only reason a customer would buy from the
website instead of in the gallery is if they could find it cheaper on
the web. I know, some are going to say that customers will buy from
the website so they may support the artist better (knowing the full
retail price is going to the artist) but, again, IMHO the customer is
not likely to do this because, when ordered from the web, they will
have to pay added shipping. The customer would have to be pretty good
friends with the artist to be willing to pay added shipping. Perhaps,
if the website discounting is happening a lot in Mendocino, the
gallery owners can do a cross check and drop those artists who are
engaging in this practice? Again, I’m not trying to start a heated
discussion, just taking an educated guess at what might be happening


p.s. If I were to see a piece in a gallery that I liked and wanted to
buy, I would pass on it if the price was over 100 dollars and the
owner would not tell me who made it


How funny that you would think that my comment was rife with critism.
I guess my advice was based on some assumptions which I admit I can
be bad at doing. So I am sorry for that. I do agree with you that
often one comes into a situation with personal bagagge. However, I do
stand by my idea of telling the gallery owner that she felt slighted
and insulted. If Amery felt that she was insulted she was. I can’t
say that the gallery owner meant it but that isn’t the point. If the
customer comes away feeling bad and the gallery owner didn’t mean to
insult her the owner needs to know that their technique is off. This
way, they might not do the same thing again by accident. Telling
someone your feelings even if it seems like a critism is just telling
someone your feelings. Why is this wrong? So Amery is supposed to eat
her feelings so that the person who accidently [?] insulted wont be
insulted? During this conversation Amery would be able to tell at
least a little better just what the gallery owner had intended. If
the owner apologizes off the bat whe will know things, if they give
excuses about fear of being ripped them off and doesn’t consider
Amery’s feelings, then she can decide how to deal with that too. I
also don’t think it is that bad of a thing to talk with the designer.
She was there and would have her own take on the issue as well.
Perhaps, [assumption here], the designer felt bad about the
transaction too. Perhaps, [assumption] she wants to deal with the
issue as well. Whatever the case, it is worth talking about it and
taking the issue to where ever it ends up. My assumptions were that
the owner was rude or fearful of having the design stolen, both are
unpleasant. They may be right or they may be wrong. I hope Amery will
clarify the situation if she chooses to. But it seems as if she has
risen above the situation… I still think that good things can come
out of honesty. Thanks for your input.

good luck, Dennis