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Hefting gold in your hand

    I design and sell gold jewelry and occasionally someone asks
to see a piece, I hand it to them and that person hefts it their
hand ( I'm assuming they are trying to gage weight). I ask,
courteously, for the return of the piece and explain that I don't
sell my work by weight and tell them they would probably be better
served elsewhere. 

When I read this, I looked again to see who had written it. Marne
Ryan said almost the exact same thing.

Here’s the thing. After I heard this from Marne, I was looking at a
piece of gold jewelry. When it was handed to me, I was pleasantly
surprised by the heft of the piece, and I bounced it in my hand in
enjoyment-- then realized that if Marne had been there, I’d have
been in trouble.

Maybe some people are mentally calculating the price per pound, but
maybe I’m not the only one who just likes the feel of a heavy piece
in my hand–though certainly not on my ears. It might be better not
to leap to conclusions and take more of a “weight and see” attitude


Marne is a friend and we talk business when we see one another, but
I didn’t know that Marne did that.

Noel, there is one caveat: I don’t do that as a matter of course.
I’m always reading the person. It depends on their attitude, tone
of voice, body language. Each person who approaches is treated as
an individual. And because of what I sell (some describe it as
expensive, some as high end; I don’t use those terms myself) I
generally spend more time talking to my customers than some people.
I don’t think you’d be in trouble with Marne as she doesn’t “leap
to conclusions” either.

I sell men’s rings some as large as size 22. Some guys remark on
the weight of the piece (in a poitive manner, of course). If the
subject of weight comes up in that context I take it as an
opportunity to discuss the difference between factory jewelry and
designer jewelry and why my work is more substantial. It’s a
selling point. Fina;lly, I just wanted to make the point that I don’t
have a rigid attitude in these matters. It’s case by case. Kevin

I have also seen many clients make this same gesture when handling a
piece of my jewelry, whether it is a crochet necklace or a ring. My
pieces tend to be very substantial in weight and I think many people
are pleasantly surprised to experience an item of jewelry which
contains a significant amount of gold. I usually receive compliments
on how comfortable the jewelry is, and in my experience the
"hefting" movement is evidence of the client appreciating the weight
of the piece, not wondering how much per gram they will be paying for

Michael David Sturlin

I have been surprised by the number of people who think my handcraft
spherical silver beads are “solid silver” because the weight, at
24-gauge, does not suggest “hollow” to them, nor do the beads sound
hollow. I ask them to imagine how heavy these beads would be if
they really were solid, and take the opportunity to explain how they
are made. More shallow-domed beads in the same gauge, however,
clink together to sound hollow and often feel “too light” for its
size. The reaction to the weight of these hollow beads often is
negative as if the beads were made hollow to save money on material.

The most frustrating issue, however, is when I am asked about how
much the necklace or bracelet weighs because the question relates to
a guess about my price. Unfortunately, a lot of both mass produced
and handcraft silver jewelry from Mexico is sold by weight, not just
to the public but also to gift shop owners. One buyer told me that
her source would no longer produce handmade silver bead necklaces
because the metalsmith in Mexico said it was too much labor for the
price when sold by weight. It did not occur to her that weight
alone should not be the only criteria because that is how she bought
all of her imported silver jewelry. I wish Mexico would stop this
practice, as it must make it difficult for them to sell their truly
beautiful higher-end silver jewelry when they encourage this

As others have pointed out, it makes no sense when cut stones or
metal jewelry is sold by weight as the criteria for value.


I often heft pieces in my hand before purchasing them because I wear
the things that I buy. If I was buying something to display in a
museum it would be a different matter, but if I am going to be
wearing a piece of jewelry, it needs to be comfortable. A pair of
earrings should not stretch out my earlobes, and I don’t think that
rings should be a substitute for going to the gym. For me, weight is
a part of proper fit. Hefting a ring in my hand is an easier way to
gauge weight initially than wearing the ring, as the shape of a ring
can sometimes make it feel awkward on my finger the first time, which
distorts the other senses.

If a person only wants to pay you for the raw materials of your
work, and is hefting is for that reason, then by all means give them
the boot, because creativity and skill have great value, but don’t
jump to conclusions (when I heft something, I’m usually more
impressed when it ways almost nothing, and am willing to pay even

  • Marshall Watson

I too agree with Noel and Michael David Sturlin. The feel of
substance that comes with a precious metal piece is satisfying to
"heft" and to wear. The only time a more weighty piece is a
disadvantage is when earrings or a broach are too heavy… it is NOT
satisfying to end up with sore earlobes or a sagged garment. :-{

BTW, Buy an Orchid pin and support our remarkable, feisty, yet kind
community. They are substantial, but not too heavy. :-} Judy in Kansas

Judy M. Willingham, R.S.
B.A.E. 237 Seaton Hall
Kansas State University
Manhatttan KS 66506
(785) 532-2936 FAX (785) 532-6944

I’ll have to agree with Noel here. When I am hefting something in
my hand, the last thing I am thinking is ‘price per dwt’. More
likely I am either trying to determine if an old piece that a
customer has handed me is platinum or not (as so many uneducated
folks in my area seem to think that anything white is either silver
or platinum). Or, if I am hefting a new piece, I am likely
appreciating that it has some weight to heft. I am so sick of
looking at cases full of substantial looking pieces in the mall type
chain stores, only to heft the piece and realize it is so hollowed
out in the interest of reducing metal weight that I will soon be
seeing it across my workbench for repairs related to light weight,
repairs that will be made all the more difficult because of that
light weight. When I find pieces that have some nice solid weight to
them, I, too, find pleasure in hefting them in my hand to feel that

Jim in the mountains of NC where the sun is shining, it is finally
warm and the motorcycle is out for the commute today.