Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Has anything really changed in last 10-20 years?


#1

Has anything changed?

There has been a discussion on Polygon (jewelers network) about has things really changed that much in jewelry industry over the last 10-20 years?:

“That said, lets look back 5 years, 10 years or even 20 years. My question to you, or anyone else for that matter, is this- are things THAT different today than they were in those previous time frames?”

My response:

===========================================================================

OMG! So much has changed. The person posting this does mostly custom design work and manufactures most of what’s in their showcase.

  1. Obvious: No more hand carving of waxes required

  2. 20 years ago all diamonds were set by humans, now I’m told 40% of diamonds and much color are put in the wax and cast in place . I’m told with a casting destruction rate of 10% on just baguettes they make a profit in labor.

  3. Signature hand engravers has made the demand for hand engravers drop.

  4. Replacement quartz movemenst-the same. Less skill needed.

  5. Advertising. Newspaper has dropped by tons. As is magazine advertising. You can post all you want that it works for you but how many of you take a daily delivered to your door newspaper?

  6. Yellow pages-Dead.

  7. Radio. In Atlanta the number one radio station? PANDORA FREE RADIO. My brother tried said it didn’t work for him, he’s a big radio advertiser.

  8. Qualified bench jewelers. Young people not coming into trade. Jewelers are to cheap to pay a good wage.

  9. Margins: 20 years ago profit margins were almost hidden except from public except for diamond-Rap List. Today its like cars-look online, if jeweler won’t haggle, buy someplace else.

  10. Because of internet customers more likely your customer is better trained on diamonds and color than the sales staff standing in front of them in your store.

  11. Competition: Used to be down the street. Now its across the country.

  12. 20 Years ago average age of groom was 24, now 28.

  13. Average diamond sale is larger, margins are less by easily 10-20 points.

  14. Vendors give less credit, more jewelers using credit cards as their “bank”. First quarter of 2016 Pandora sales were $247 million in USA. For a year probably about 1 billion in USA. Over 80% of their sales are on a credit card to JEWELERS.

  15. 20 years ago a young couple went to 7 to 8 jewelry stores, checking stuff out and bought from a single jewelry store.

Today a couple goes to 15-17 websites and then visits 3 brick and motor stores and 80% so far buy from a brick and motar store.

  1. Security: Cameras in and outside of the store.

  2. Going back to jeweler, many don’t carve the wax, a machine carves it.

  3. Store margins: Lower than before.

  4. Advertising: harder to see what works. Spread yourself thin.

  5. Put out a sign and they will come. NOT!

  6. Expecting your children to take over when they can find a better job elsewhere. Besides they don’t work as hard as you, good or bad.

  7. Sell store? Going out of Business is best way today to cash out and inventory as an investment is no longer true.

  8. Point of sale programs. Better than ever.

  9. More and more your competition is a flat screen TV or cruise.

You decide if things haven’t changed that much in last 10-20 years.

David Geller


#2

David Geller, and all;
So MUCH has changed and will continue to change, even in the past few
years! But one thing has never changed, is the need to learn the ‘Absolute
Basics’ of jewellery fabrication. On this Ganoksin/Orchid site, I see many
new jewellers from all countries needing assistance, we here are eager to
help them! There are many schools in Canada who are filling that void of
now introducing to the next generation the chasm left from the older folks
who have since retired or ‘passed on’.
I for one, has seen this change from a person who sat at his bench for
days to make one model ring model and now it’s created in almost an hour by
CAD! But what is lacking, are the basic “time-tested” techniques that need
to be taught? Even some schools are closing down, so who is going to
continue on the teach them?
There will be always a bench-jeweller at the rear of the store, machines
cannot copy what the human-hand can do. The machines cannot learn from
their repeated experience, jewellers can and often improvise on the spot!!!
What I learned in Diamond Setting over 50 years ago, is still a required
task. I’m writing essays for the next generation, for these newer folks to
understand what must be learned. Even in starting to use CAD, that designer
must know how to prepare a ring for setting.
Education will never go out of style…styles may & often change! But the
need to learn these newer techniques will never fade away!!! Thanks to you
"Orchid/Ganoksin".
*Gerry Lewy *
Toronto.
*"​Gerrylewy18@gmail.com Gerrylewy18@gmail.com’​ *


#3

Hi Jerry,
Your not the only one here thats hit the half century in this game, more power to your stone setting.
However, your say jewellery fabrication basics, I hope you mean that in the widest sense, as making an item by fabrication in its truest sense is only just one of the ways of making the work we do, the others are casting and the last much ignored today is wrought.
Now along with your post today is the one from the 22yr beginner Brent, who is thrilled with his Fordom, if he was my apprentice id take it away from him, and make him start with the basic tools, of a hammer, file and pliers, then a saw , in that order.
Why?may you ask am I being so hard on him? the answer is that only through the working of metal via the wrought route will he get to feel of it in the hand so to speak. Fabrication will not do this.
There is so much out there in this way of making thats fast, ,effective and finally profitable. He needs to do wrought work first before trying his hand at stone work., if that is what he wants to do, or is it because thats what everyone else does?
So many pop and mom stores are going out of business because they do not go beyond what is mostly on offer to them, hoping that they will keep their clients coming back.
We all know the competition there out there for our dollar, or in my case the pound.
Then when he has mastered the techniques of our kind of metalworking, its time for him to move up to working the metal in combination with stones.
As you so rightly have said, one must master the basics and be good at interpreting ones idea in metal successfully, fast and ultimately profitable for our vocation to become sustainable.
hope you follow my thoughts on this.
Ted.

.


#4

vladimirfrater https://orchid.ganoksin.com/u/vladimirfrater
October 22

Hi Jerry,
Your not the only one here thats hit the half century in this game, more
power to your stone setting.
However, your say jewellery fabrication basics, I hope you mean that in
the widest sense, as making an item by fabrication in its truest sense is
only just one of the ways of making the work we do, the others are casting
and the last much ignored today is wrought.
Now along with your post today is the one from the 22yr beginner Brent,
who is thrilled with his Fordom, if he was my apprentice id take it away
from him, and make him start with the basic tools, of a hammer, file and
pliers, then a saw , in that order.
Why?may you ask am I being so hard on him? the answer is that only through
the working of metal via the wrought route will he get to feel of it in the
hand so to speak. Fabrication will not do this.
There is so much out there in this way of making thats fast, ,effective
and finally profitable. He needs to do wrought work first before trying his
hand at stone work., if that is what he wants to do, or is it because thats
what everyone else does?
So many pop and mom stores are going out of business because they do not
go beyond what is mostly on offer to them, hoping that they will keep their
clients coming back.
We all know the competition there out there for our dollar, or in my case
the pound.
Then when he has mastered the techniques of our kind of metalworking, its
time for him to move up to working the metal in combination with stones.
As you so rightly have said, one must master the basics and be good at
interpreting ones idea in metal successfully, fast and ultimately
profitable for our vocation to become sustainable.
hope you follow my thoughts on this.
Ted.

.

This is why I always start newbies out with pouring and forging an ingot
as well as making plate, bar stock and wire. I feel that hey have to learn
the how metal really works.

Jo Haemer


#5

It is interesting to read of the changes in the last 20 years , especially regarding apprentices and the Schools, or colleges offering courses . In the whole of the East coast of New South Wales , Australia there is only 1 yes 1 college offering to teach apprentices , and it has now opened up the course so that one else does not need to be apprenticed to attend . This is to boost
Numbers . One attendee I know of only goes 1 day a week a day has a 6 hour round trip for a day at college is it any wonder younger folk are other pursuing this as a job .Manufacturing jewelers are few and far between … . This is so sad. There are some adult education courses but they are so expensive and are only for 2 days and will only ever cover one subject . So one will go home with minimal skills . Again so sad . I look at the Lapidary journal with so much envy to see all the pages of classes offered overseas . I see the colleges that offer courses and let out are long sigh of uuuuuhhh envy . So yeah loads has changed in 20years . Well at least here in New South Wales.
Cheers Suzanne


#6

Interesting topic, looking back and the observations of time…
54 years ago, I was sweeping floors of investment, knocking investment out of flasks, cleaning investment off castings. (major investment…). Then off to cut castings off, weigh in / out gold-platinum. Moving on… sweeping up in the polishing room. Then duty in the wax room, what pressure, what temperature, hold how long ???. All this with extremely brittle waxes. Then off to the mold room… cutting rubber, learning how to pack, vulcanize… oops- too hot… Back to square one. Then learning how to cut…Then off to the bench. Cutting sprues, filing, soldering, clean-up. Off to polishing…dirty… but so artful when it’s done right.
( oh yea… +the 7 years as a setting apprentice)
The context,
I started with a jewelry firm that made charms as well as being the casting -mold making and special project house for Van Cleef & Arpels, Gump’s, Shrieve & co as well as others. We had 23 full time people, I was the first new hire in 20 years. The advantage of being low man on the Totem pole is that there is only up from there. I loved all of it, being gopher, learning each step to the point of becoming a model maker.
Everything was necessary…filing, forming, forging, shaping, carving, casting, fabricating, stamping machining et-al. Now in those six years , the thing I came to understand was the difference between competence, and mastery…they are worlds apart.

So, 54 years down the road, what has changed in my perspective.
Not too many artisan shops left around,
the opportunity to train in a productive environment,
with people willing to share,
meeting senior members of the community of jewelry,
again willing to share.
Time invested to see a vision through. ( how does one justify that level of training and the pay associated with the craft ? ).

I’ve had many people come through these studio doors, most have gone on to become great crafts people, and I would work with each and every one today.
But, when we all talk, the question is often asked, would you invest your life to this craft is you were starting fresh today. For most, it would be tough, raising families, creating a sound financial future, it might not be a first choice today.
As I see the new crop of “Jewelers” come up, devoid of bench skills, brilliant at cad, even then, having to compete with offshore techs. I see people with little or no background in the inherent math of jewelry. The balance that comes from making something with one’s hands, suffering the pokes and cuts of a slipped tool, the war wounds that teach so well.
Also lacking , for most new to the trade, is a rooted history of jewelry from the past, a time when a tool millgrained,
not tool path.

I’m fortunate to have the experiences of time and place, a bit sad to see the art in jewelry being rapidly out shown by cost cutting as the new normal.
However, without consumers who can distinguish the markers of quality that we grew up with, consumers that will be happy to buy the “Facade” of nice jewelry, at the best price they can get, we will see a diminished market for our distinctions of quality craftsmanship.
So what to do???
Educate, share, do work that shows off one’s skill set and talk about it, not egotistically, but pointing out the areas where the time goes, and why it went there.

I am starting newly each day now, fully grasping the accelerating nature of the world, and my personal deceleration due to age and milage. It seems we’ve entered an age where there is more thinking than doing. A time to grow in new directions, using the media available to educate, promote, and share our skills as they are, and keep adding to our tool kits as well.

So what has changed for you?
Make cool stuff…
Jim


#7

[quote="… I am starting newly each day now, fully grasping the accelerating nature of the world, and my personal deceleration due to age and milage. …"
[/quote]
Wow at 74 I can relate to that well crafted comment. As a hobbiest, I got interested in wax, molds, and casting and was fortunate to have a mentor step up to the task of encouraging. When I would ask questions about “why this and not that” his response was try both and let’s talk about what you discovered.

His passing was traumatic for me but I haven’t stopped experimenting and continue to analyze the outcomes. He passed two uncut opals to before his passing and told me he had them for 20 years and never worked up the courage to put them thru the saw. I’ve now had them for an additional 10 and am following his advice to study them periodically and when the opal vein has revealed itself to me take it to the saw.

There are MANY of you on this forum that if we lived closer I’d be hounding you to tuck me under your wing and let me absorb what you have to offer. @gerrylewy18 and @JimGrahlDesign and @jhaemer52 you are among many who share selflessly and I read EVERY contribution. BTW there are many others.
Regards RLW


#8

Fortunately, the limited supply of fine craftsmanship in jewelry making today makes those who are able to do that work more valuable. Many changes in the last 20 years have created opportunities to become more profitable and improve quality at the same time. We just have to continually adapt, not always easy for sure.

Like cad, the overall effect of cad in the jewelry industry has been to homogenize and diminish quality. But those who where already doing beautiful work saw it as a great tool to more quickly produce symmetrical pieces or components. While they still carve and fabricate, cad added another tool that could cut time and cost to achieve the same good results as before.

People who want it just can’t easily find those capable of super fine craftsmanship. They have to pay for it because it’s in very limited supply. And the beautiful thing is that we all just keep getting better each day.
Mark


#9

Thanks Mark. For years folks have been telling Tim and I that we are washed
up dinosaurs. Well now we’re an endangered species.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.
-Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#10

Which makes you all the more valuable!!! I think the less talented
and able jewelers there are the more you will get valued.
I have been trying to find someone to do some quality tailoring where I
live and no one, no one, can design patterns any more or actually tailor a
dress. If a real tailor ever moved here they would be working all the time
at what ever price they wanted to charge.

I think good jewelers with old world skills are also be this valuable and
more as time goes on.

Keep doing your beautiful work as long as you can. We all appreciate you
both and your wonderful work.
Sharron…in central Mexico with poorly tailored clothing…sigh.


#11

Indeed, those with design/sewing skills face the same difficulties as those in the custom jewelry business. As our skills become more rare, our future becomes brighter. Silversea, for professional sewing, see www.sewingprofessionals.org. These are the people who are and will be the future of well designed and constructed clothing. Ops, just realized you are in Mexico. We may not have members there, but it may be possible to do long-distance work with someone.


#12

No not dinosaurs, more mythical wise and ageless beings.


#13

David, I think one reason so many jewelers are paying Pandora with a credit card is for the points on the card. It’s hard to pass up the free 1%-2% refund. I know Stuller is kind enough to let accounts pay with a card as well. It’s a nice discount.

Thanks for sharing the interesting post.
Mark


#14

Don’t knock ‘us’ down & out, we’re still here helping you all where we (still) can. I’m now in Grand Haven, MI giving a setting class to 8 very excited students.
The class will learn how gravers greatly assist in setting 4 & 6-claw setting, Princess setting, Gypsy & Flush setting. Grab this travelling setter to help you before we become a “mythical species!”…:wink:
Gerry! On my Travelling iPhone!


#15

What has changed is 3d printing, cad design and laser welding which you can mix with all the standard techniques as well as ancient techniques


#16

“Ancient Techniques?” Could you please, my good friend, enlighten ‘us’ on which these are?..:wink:

Gerry! On my Travelling iPhone!


#17

Twenty years ago, more folks understood that a “cash back” credit card was not a reward. And furthermore, we pay dearly for the convenience of using credit cards.


#18

Gerry lewy doesn’t know any ancient techniques? C’mon, how about anything the Egyptians did, granulation, repousse, hollowwork, forming, hammering. Some of your setting styles are ancient. I don’t think they had sweet oxy propane torches like mine though so that would be more modern. SD