Dear Harshly Judgmental,
The answer to your question is; yes you are being harshly judgmental
in my opinion. It would bring so much more positive energy into the
world for you to be focused on more creative and constructive thought
processes. There is nothing wrong with not liking someone’s work but
to bring it to the attention of others is where you are getting off
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.
Oh my gosh, Bill. That is the funniest thing I have read on Orchid
ever! And your right with what you tell your students, it is a small
(but growing, I hope) percentage of consumers that will look for
Educating the masses to be more discerning of quality, ah there’s a
challenge. The cult of celebrity is running the world these days and
it is so difficult to stop the stampeding lemmings.
Associate Editor / Art Jewelry magazine
21027 Crossroads Circle / Waukesha WI 53187-1612
There is nothing wrong with not liking someone's work but to bring
it to the attention of others is where you are getting off track.
From the original post, it didn’t seem that Neil had a problem with
the work, but the quality of the work. I have seen people use the
following technique and I think it is an assertive, yet non-negative
way to approach things.
The customer is commenting on a certain piece so, you take it out of
the case for her to closely examine. As she is looking at it, you
pick out something about the quality that you feel is superior to
your competitor and you say something like "I have seen some things
on the market where the jeweler has chosen to ______, but I prefer
to_____because the piece will last much longer (for example) and then
you tell them why. The key is that you are never saying anything
negative about anyone else, merely stating that jewelers choose
different ways of doing things and you feel yours is a superior way.
Customers sometimes will say things to me like “so, I was at so and
so’s the other day and she wants 500 dollars for a necklace and I
think yours is a better quality anyway…what do you think of
her?..” It’s a sticky situation. I have chosen to say things like,
“she has a very good sense of color” or “she uses very expensive
beads” or “it must be a lot more difficult for her because she has to
include rent in her price” I never say anything even slightly
negative because word of mouth is my best friend right now and, let’s
face it, ladies like to talk, and talk, and talk.
merely stating that jewelers choose different ways of doing things
and you feel yours is a superior way.
I already wrote another angle on this, today, but this bears a look,
too. It’s true that it’s not very nice, and maybe counterproductive,
to talk down other people’s work to customers, especially if they own
it. What Neil said, though wasn’t that - he just looked at something
and cringed. It’s one thing to know when to shut up or evade the
obvious. It’s quite another to deny that there is better and lesser
quality in everything. Again, this is quality - how it’s made, not
design. Crooked is crooked. A diamond so badly set that it’s about to
fall out is bad setting, and you’re doing the customer a favor by
saying so. Yes, be nice, but don’t hide your head in the sand.
Thinking that a half-ass polish is OK is going to limit your sales
opportunities, plus you’ll never learn how to get a real polish.
There IS bad work in the world.
A diamond so badly set that it's about to fall out is bad setting,
and you're doing the customer a favor by saying so. Yes, be nice,
but don't hide your head in the sand. Thinking that a half-ass
polish is OK is going to limit your sales opportunities, plus
you'll never learn how to get a real polish. There IS bad work in
I agree that there is bad work in the World. I want to give an
example of what I am talking about. I’m not implying that Neil would
actually do anything like this at all, just saying that it is a good
thing to avoid behaving like this in any way.
In Oct of 2006, I visited a show. There was an exhibitor in the show
who is considered a “beader” as I am, so I wanted to check out her
stuff before I apply to the show. I am always extremely open about
who I am and what I do. When she finds out where I’m from, however,
she goes on and on for about 30 minutes about a person who lives and
sells out of the next town over from me. The person is a thief, the
person has no talent, the person stole her designs, the person only
does buy-sell…etc blah blah. This is bad form. She then went on to
ask me if I would like to do some work for her, huh? Sorry, I’ll
I’m just saying I avoid names, always, even when the customer
actively tries to get me to say something negative about someone or
Neil seems to be a real nice guy. I don’t think he would ever do
anything like that, but I have a feeling that there are a lot who
do. I’ve heard more than one. The only person that it comes back to
bite in the butt is the name-caller.
My answer to what do you say when a customer brings in something
that is really poorly crafted is to turn it in your direction. Point
out the positive points about your craftsmanship. “now, see here I
think the piece would benefit from a smoother line and a bit more
polishing” I know I’m green compared to just about everyone on the
list, so you guys have a lot of actual real world experience. Just my
thoughts on it though.
I promised myself that I wouldn’t develop a posting habit, but this
evolving post has caught my attention. I’m thinking that it should be
During the mid 70’s the demand for “hard assets” sparked a market
boom. The Cayman Islands had just emerged from “The Islands that Time
Forgot” to become a major international tax haven. I opened a new
Diamond Store nestled between the Banks in downtown George Town.
Within days of opening the store, bank managers, trust officers and
accountants were calling me and asking for “Investment” Diamonds for
their offshore clients. I told them that buying diamonds from a
retail store was not in the best interest of their clients and that
they needed a broker to provide a buying service. To cut a long story
short (sorry), I ended up with a successful offshore brokerage firm.
It purchased only D flawless “Ideal Cut” Diamonds, important Coloured
Gemstones,museum quality Ancient Coins and of course gold bullion. I
had personal relationships with most of the Antwerp site-holders that
could be expected to receive exceptional rough from DeBeers. Every
morning my office floor would be covered with telex printouts
offering newly cut diamonds. The antiquity market was more demanding;
over the years I accumulated a vast research library and bought many
of the significant rarities that came to market. It was an exciting
time. I was also the most active buyer of Spanish gold Doubloons
recovered from shipwrecks, These I mounted into a very successful
line of jewellery. It’s safe to say that I bought about half of all
the gold doubloons ever found in the ocean. Many of these where
unique unpublished rarities. I became the “expert” in this material.
Now here is the integrity point. All of this experience eventual
culminated in a well published collection of exceptional jewellery
that I offered in my showroom “Smiths of Cayman.” Occasionally
people would show me Spanish or Ancient coin jewellery that that was
either counterfeit or altered. At first I was hesitant to point out
this fact, until I realized that eventually someone was going to tell
them that their treasure was counterfeit. I could imagine that the
first thing that they would say was “but I showed it to Mr. Smith and
he didn’t say anything, so you must be wrong.” If you are a
professional, if you have integrity in your own work and if you
really know what you are talking about, you should tell people the
truth about their jewellery. The doctor who renders a second opinion
is doing you a valuable service; He would be without integrity if he
Dennis Smith - Jewelmaker
If you are a professional, if you have integrity in your own work
and if you really know what you are talking about, you should tell
people the truth about their jewellery.
I totally agree with Nanz’s statement that “the cult of celebrity”
is running the show right now. We see it time and time again; in
almost every venue: negating any time loss while the public learns
face/name recognition seems paramount. Quality falls distantly down
the priority line. However, Mr. Smith’s statement above is the best
summary for this thread.
During my apprenticeship I worked for a company that supplied a
number of shops selling mass produced mid range jewellery. It seemed
the uglier the piece the more we made. I often asked why don’t we
make nice pieces of jewellery, surely they would sell better.
Unfortunately it was not the case. The company catered for the
Fortunately my skills developed quickly and I started my own
business working on top end jewellery for exclusive shops and private
clients and I’ll never have to touch a 9ct gold band weighing 3 grams
set with a 200pc ever again.
I wouldn’t however recommend trying to come up with a big range of
ugly jewellery just to see if it will sell but it might be fun to try
a piece or two.
One thing that bothers me about consumers is that I like to make
huge bombe style rings with a lot of colour but its hard to get them
on fingers. Girls complain that when they wear them they cant get
their fingers together. These same girls walked in wearing 6 inch
high heels that risk snapping their ankles with every step and
probably required months of walking around the house to get used to.
They wear dresses that barely keep everything in and im sure they
spray 3M contact adhesive on their boobs to stop them falling out.
You would think wearing big rings would be easy by comparison. My
conclusion is people are mad.