Great topic for discussion. I'll be interested to see how others
respond to this as setting high-value gems is a regular part of my
First, I have a list of shop policies posted conspicuously on the
wall near my consultation counter and one of my policies states: Any
gem other than ours will be set at CUSTOMER=92S RISK ONLY unless
otherwise detailed in writing and signed and dated by both a
representative of Goldworks and the client. Stone setting insurance
can be provided and is advised in the case of valued items.
I also have a "disclaimer" on my job envelopes that refers clients
to the policy statement.
That being said, in most cases, if we damage a gem, we replace
it...it's a matter of maintaining the good-will of our clients and
that good-will is of more high-value to me than the value of most
gems. I need them to return with more business or I don't survive.
But...when I take a particularly valuable job in, or sell a very
high-value gemstone, I normally go over the characteristics of that
particular gem with my client PRIOR to accepting the job and, if the
situation warrants (in the case of opals, emeralds or gems with
potentially fatal inclusions, I will verbally point out the policy
and make the client very aware of the potential for disaster and
where liability lies. I do emphasize that I've been in business for
nearly 30 years, and will take every precaution to protect a gem
while in my possession but that damage does occur occasionally.
Here's an in-progress anecdote that pertains to the topic. I made a
ring for an emerald that came back after 5 or so years for a sizing.
The client had not purchased the emerald from me but over the years
became my very best client, allowing me to find other high-value gems
and exercise much creativity in ensuing projects...When the emerald
seemingly self-destructed in the process of sizing, (we had it
submerged in water during the heat phase of sizing and my shop
manager was handling it with kid gloves while polishing)I told my
client, "If this had been anyone else, I would have passed on the
liability since the emerald seemed to self-destruct, but you are my
very best client, I will cover the loss." The client thought about
it for a minute and replied, "I guess that's why I have you do
appraisals and have insurance, we'll let the insurance company worry
And so, this time I lucked out, his insurance will reimburse me for
finding another gem. Out of all this long explanation, I guess I
haven't given you a nice, short, definitive answer, but the emotional
content of what we do doesn't always lead to nicely packaged
resolutions. Each case must sometimes be evaluated separately and
appropriate action taken for the situation. I think the main point
I'd make is HAVE a firm policy, and discuss the potentials with your
client, up-front. G
--- Gary Dawson
--- Goldworks Jewelry Art Studio
---Quality and Integrity...Always!