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Harshly Judgemental?


#1

This morning I had the opportunity to handle a ring made by a
successful local jewelry artist.

I examined it the way I might examine a salesperson’s sample line.
Like would I buy this for my showcases?

I could list the obvious deficiencies but the particulars are not
the point. The piece was poorly made (at least to my standards). The
design was ho-hum, like a freeform remount you might see in a
findings catalog, just badly executed.

Yet this artist is financially successful selling things like this.
She’s been doing this a long time. “People eat it up” I was told. In
light of the selling price I quipped, “Maybe I should start making
bad jewelry”.

I probably sound like a craftsmanship snob, or sour grapes or
something. But I’m missing something here.

Why are people flocking to buy overpriced third rate quality?


#2
Why are people flocking to buy overpriced third rate quality?

I beleive its called “Marketing”.


#3
I probably sound like a craftsmanship snob, or sour grapes or
something. But I'm missing something here. Why are people flocking
to buy overpriced third rate quality? 

Probably because, in part, the person making it has a successful
marketing plan. Look at all the mediocre jewelry, and other products,
that are successfully marketed.

Joel Schwalb
www.schwalbstudio.com


#4

Neil,

Why are people flocking to buy overpriced third rate quality 

I don’t think everyone is doing this but remember that people are
often just lemmings. If everyone else has already been there they
want to be there too. This can help you when you have been
established for awhile regardless of the quality of the work. But it
can also be frustrating when you have to see what else they are
buying out there. Hey I just had a guy in the other day who says “I
came to you because all of my friends have told me that you’re the
best jeweler out there”. Then he proceeds to pull out two of the
ugliest pieces of jewelry I’ve seen in a long time (well one was just
normal ugly but the other was really, really ugly) and says “I bought
one from a place on the web and one in NYC. Which one do you think I
should give to my partner and which one should I return?” Sometimes
it takes a huge amount of will power not to lunge over the counter
and throttle some of them { - ;.

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


#5
I probably sound like a craftsmanship snob, or sour grapes or
something. But I'm missing something here. 

Why are people flocking to buy overpriced third rate quality?

No, Neil, I think you’re unobtrusively starting a new thread, [;-} I
don’t know the answer to your question, beyond “Different
Strokes…”, but it’s a good intro to reply to a comment by someone
here about being scared away from working in jewelry because of some
of the high-powered comments here. For myself, I try to talk about
the professional world as a way of opening up the world to readers.
That there is more and bigger and farther. But there’s room for
everybody - plenty of people all over the world are making a living
with basic tools, basic materials, and basic skills. I just try to
say, “Don’t stop there, don’t ever be complacent.” There’s always
more to know. “Overpriced, third rate jewelry” is heartbreaking,
though. “Didn’t you realize we could have given you the same product
at twice the quality for 1/2 the price?” Obviously they didn’t.


#6

Hi,

I hate to say it but, welcome to the world we live, a world of crap.
Everything we buy is mass produced junk. People don’t care if
something is well made or posesses quality materials. Slap a designer
label on it, or say some famous so-and-so made it and people will
knock each other over just to get one. This is true across the board.
Got to any store that sells expensive clothing, turn over the labels,
you’ll see most everything consists of polyester nd acrylic, another
wards “plastic.” All the better department stores now sell costume
jewelry with acrylic beads. People simply don’t care. I like old
things. Vintage things. I buy them up when I see them. Shoes,
clothes,
jewelry. Things were made better in the past, with REAL materials,
and they last, and last, and last, staying beautiful and true for
years to come.

Augest Derenthal
Cry Baby Designs


#7

Neil,

A good artist friend told me many years ago, "The Masses are asses."
Twenty years later I still haven’t been able to prove her wrong.
Most people only want the flash. They have no clue what they are
looking at in terms of craftsmanship…in part because this is no
longer taught early on in our society.

I have no problem with a craftsmanship snob or being one. I love
listening to my students come back and tell me what they saw at a
show or in a store and how they know that they could not get away
with doing that kind of work now. They would be embarrassed by it. I
expect excellence… not perfection. The search for excellence is a
life long journey of learning and practice. Not a path for the lazy
person. Not a path of instant gratification.

I find it interesting that the Wallys and other big discounter
houses are now moving into the luxury market. They have found that
there is still a market for the better goods at much better prices.
Those who know and can pay.

I always tell the students that they are looking for that 2 or 3% of
the market place.

I tried making bad jewelry a time or two. Kind of like being
constipated, hung over, and in trouble with the IRS all at the same
time. Left me feeling yucky.

Oops. Soap box time.

Bill Churlik
@Bill_Churlik
www.earthspeakarts.com


#8
Why are people flocking to buy overpriced third rate quality? 

This seems to be my day to write responses…

There must be a reason, right? If it isn’t price or quality, it must
be design. What else is there? I have seen many people with poor
skills (or just didn’t care, maybe) but a great fashion sense
(something I do not share) throw things together and sell them for a
lot. I think most people are more responsive to style than to
anything else. After all, noticing quality has to be learned. Also,
if you buy for style, chances are you do not plan to wear the thing
for all that long before the style changes and the old stuff is
gathering dust. So durability is not terribly important.

I do not mean to sound bitter. I envy this sense of style, of
fashion. For me, to make something simple is the hardest thing. So I
go the other way altogether, on the whole. Fortunately, there are
all kinds of buyers-- the trick is to find yours.

And of course, those simple, stylish pieces don’t have to be poorly
made!

Noel


#9

Hello,

different light than you or I. A design that’s “ho-hum” to you or me
may be very exciting to them, especially if the only fine jewelry
shopping they do is a casual browse at the jewelry counter at
Wal-Mart.

Granted, there are high maintenance types who examine jewelry with a
loupe, but those guys are that way with everything, not just
jewelry. (I’ve done in-home plant care, I can vouch for this. I have
vivid memories of one woman who threatened to cancel her service if
the company sent a plant tech that didn’t know how to get to her
house.) If you showed them a collector’s gem carefully set in a
finely crafted mounting, they would want an appraisel for the
collector’s gem gauranteeing that it was the highest quality of
whatever-ite.

Plus, this artist sounds like she’s done a great job of marketing
herself. There’s something about her and her work that appeals to
people. Maybe women like her stuff because it’s quirky and
off-shape, like some of them may be. Maybe folks like her jewelry
because it’s more “fun” than “fine.”

Maybe the key here is to view her jewelry (and I’m talking through
my hat, not having seen the piece) as different, rather than bad.

Susannah


#10

If you make something that you think is garbage, that’s YOUR thought.
If someone compliments the garbage, say “Thank you, I appreciate your
comments.” See if the someone will buy your “garbage”. Get paid. Keep
at it. Simple.

I tie my own fishing flies. My dad used to rummage my discards. He
would “go behind my back” with the flies and catch fish.

'Nuff said?

Dan


#11

I think it’s essential to separate design from craftsmanship. Liking
a design is subjective, and one might like something that’s poorly
made, just because there’s something to it. Quality is objective, and
there’s really nothing to argue about. Jewelry has standards, like
anything else, and if Neil or anyone else is saying, “The setting’s
crooked, the shank’s polished away, there’s raging porosity, the
lines are lumpy.” then there’s not a thing in the world wrong with
that. Quality is objective, and saying “This is poor quality.” is a
valid statement. Most of my work is inspected under 10x, and that’s
not snobbery, it’s routine and a normal part of our business - those
are the standards we have in place. Sorry, but I suspect the
negatives
about this are probably the same ones who want to laugh at WalMart’s
jewelry. Does the shoe fit any differently there than here? Saying
it’s a bad design is a judgement, saying it’s bad work is an
assessment.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#12
This seems to be my day to write responses... 

Mine too. :slight_smile:

There must be a reason, right? If it isn't price or quality, it
must be design. What else is there? 

We are all in sales whether we want to admit it or not. Good salesmen
(and women) make their clients feel smart, not inferior or stupid.

Sincerely,
Ray
http://CustomMadeSilver.com


#13
I have no problem with a craftsmanship snob or being one. 

If you make your potential customers feel stupid for “wasting their
money” on things they thought were pretty, nice, and worth the price
they paid, they’ll feel intimidated dealing with you and won’t return
a second time.

I have no problem with craftsmanship snobs either. I treat your
former customers with respect and they become my life-long customers.

Don’t change!

Sincerely,
Ray
http://CustomMadeSilver.com


#14

Not being in a retail jewelry, or even actively trying to sell the
jewelry I am playing with now. I know that most people today are
, you pick a word to fill in the blank. All you have to
do is look at the movies,TV,music, clothes and the way the rich and
famous act, it is no wonder. That chit sells.

When I was set up at a large flea market back in the 70’s selling
liquid silver/heshi necklaces I couldn’t figure out why everybody
liked the stuff and oh’ed and ah’ed over it but wouldn’t buy it. It
was all good quality,real bits and pieces of mother natures finest.
Till one day an old world watch maker that was set up in the market
came by to see my stuff and talk.I would buy him a coffee and talk.
He took one look at my prices and told me that I was not charging
enough. Because in the malls the same stuff was selling for knocking
on a $100.00 marked down $75.00. He said that’s why the other people
in the market was selling the junk. Most people know squat about
jewelry! But they have a preconceived notion about value of jewelry.
To low of a cost then it must be junk. When I changed my price tags
and put a higher price on them and then marked them down to double or
triple what I was charging I started to sell more each weekend. The
day I changed them I had a women who didn’t buy a necklace and
earring set the 1st time by bought the set she was looking at on her
way out. She didn’t realize that I was the same place she had seen
because, she made a comment how a guy near my table was coping my
stuff with junk and selling it cheap!

The other thing is what I call the been hood winked by marketing.
All of my wife’s friends and people in general a couple of years ago
where talking this new theme eatery up at the new mall.

We finally go

1st. you have to wait in line or get a beeper.
2nd. an hour later we get seated.
3rd. the wait staff was cranky and service was bad.
4th. the electronic animals/jungle decor was too loud and distracting
with all the mini shows repeated every 3 minutes.
5th the food was terrible and over priced.

The wife asked one of the ladies at work why she pushed that place so
much, she said she wanted us to have the same experience as they had
had. Because that’s what was done to them. Its basicly the same thing
that happens at the old country fairs/carnival when people tell other
people that the sideshow for the alligator girl, headless girl ect
was worth it when they come out. Nobody likes to be duped so it
spreads the fun because you can say later that boy that guy was a
sucker! I won’t even start on why guys that were in the military hate
jewelry stores. The first experiences with them outside of the bases
gates with the talker/hook man out front.

The bottom line is perceived value not real value, and having what
their friends have right, wrong, or really bad. In art, jewelry,
fashion, food or anything in life.

As I have been told on more then one occasion " The only taste you
have is in your mouth"

been there, done that and moved on to fun stuff

glen


#15
Probably because, in part, the person making it has a successful
marketing plan. Look at all the mediocre jewelry, and other
products, that are successfully marketed. 

My “marketing plan” is to be kind and friendly to my present and
potential customers, and rather then making them jewelry that is
tasteful or pretty in my opinion, I make them pieces that they like.
Quality is built into everything I make. My customers may or may not
notice this fact now, but down the road when the piece I made for
them is passed to a child or grandchild and eventually becomes a
heirloom, the quality of my craftsmanship will live on.

Sincerely,

Ray
http://CustomMadeSilver.com


#16
"This is poor quality." is a valid statement. Most of my work is
inspected under 10x, and that's not snobbery, it's routine and a
normal part of our business - those are the standards we have in
place. 

Now just to throw fuel onto a fire to see how pretty it will
burn…

Do you expect those standards to be applied to silver fashion
jewellery? And if you do what sort of price point are you expecting
it to have?

I have seen such wild variance of quality, price and attitueds in
regards to silver fashion jewellery it never ceasess to amaze me.

Cheers,
Norah


#17
Do you expect those standards to be applied to silver fashion
jewellery? And if you do what sort of price point are 

In a word, yes, I do. In another word, no, not so strict of
standards, because of many factors, price being one of them, and the
inherent difficulty of working silver to begin with. But straight,
square, even, equal - absolutely, yes. Understand that I’m not a
snob - I’m not saying that a crooked piece is “beneath me”, or
anything like that. But I will see it - I can’t help but see it - and
if I were a buyer looking it would be a serious factor. Anybody can
make anything they want. The issue, to me, is the marketplace: can
one get away with shoddy craftsmanship, why would they even want to,
and how does this come to be thought of as OK?

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#18
The issue, to me, is the marketplace: can one get away with shoddy
craftsmanship, why would they even want to, and how does this come
to be thought of as OK? 

My experience have been heavily coloured by small company silver
production line fashion jewellery just for starters.

Yes one can get away with shoddy stuff (as has been described), so
long as it holds together. Crooked usually isn’t the problem, that is
usually fixed by being crooked ~enough~ to look deliberate, the
problems are usually ‘flat’ designs that are rushed last minute
becuase they were running late for the spring show (a few of these
are unavoidable, don’t make it your whole line), or the most common
(and perhaps most understandable but also frequently I find the most
painful) inability to get a ‘conventional’ finnish leading to some
stellar ‘inovations’. (I exagerate just a little when I pretend to
quote “hey check out this great texture when I take the stain wheel
directly to the casting skin!”)

As far as I can tell if you have one or two reasonable design
aspects and an ok price point you can get by largely on hutzpah and
good timing. If you have a good design whole you can get away with an
unreasonable price point and a LOT of hutzpah. (Obviously either way
I need more hutzpah, do you know a good hutzpah dealer?)

Why would they want to? Generally speaking from what I’ve seen we
are talking about strong type A personalities who have deluded
themselves into believing what they do is absolutly fabulous, it does
wonders for their sales technique but left for years alone their
product… becomes eccentric. Frequently aided and abetted by actual
holes in their education, I think the Art College model has a lot to
answer for (the one where you come up with what you want to make and
then get the techniques require from the teacher rather then the
technical college model where you are barraged with techniques and
then asked to use them), if you enter that model with a strong sense
of style already then all you are going to do is develop that one
style and everything else is left out to hang. I worked for one woman
who rhetorcally asked what fire-scale was, she was amazed when I
actually told her. Imagine four years of paid jewellery education and
not knowing that? She also could not recognize that we were getting
abnormally BAD castings and should have changed suppliers rather then
flush money down the drain.

But the major factor? Mostly they aren’t selling to jewellery
stores, yeah they make the occasional pot shot, but really the
majority of their cleintelle are Fashion or decor boutiques, eclectic
galleries, who are run by people who ‘don’t know jewellery but know
what they like!’

Do I think my stuff is the end all and be all and all that? Ummm
hell no, I see plenty flaws and shortcuts. Hopefully passible, better
in some ways then some of those I’ve worked for in the past, but I’m
alone a lot with it, so I may not be the best judge. I would like to
think the price point fair for what you get, what else can I do?

Cheers,
Norah
(I think I’ll skip the url this time… hard habit to break though
grins)


#19
Imagine four years of paid jewellery education and not knowing
that? She also could not recognize that we were getting abnormally
BAD castings and should have changed suppliers rather then flush
money down the drain. 

Yes, Norah, all you say is true and to the point. I think the whole
issue at stake here, and why it’s important, is people’s (Orchid
reader’s) futures. Jewelry is jewelry, period. There is no real
distinction between “Academic” jewelry and Van Cleef - it’s a
fabrication of somebody’s imagination, to me. The least experienced
person here on Orchid can and might grow to become the next Cartier.
But that’s not going to happen by thinking that good enough is good
enough. Yes, one might sell it and make a living, but better is
better and finer is finer. It’s simply “a truth”.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com