Alan, Great topic! I think one of the areas that needs greater
attention would be communication skills on the part of both the
jeweler and sales associates. I once worked for a large jewelry
retailer for years and found that a commissioned salesperson
would often be too eager to ring up the sale and not be concerned
with the customer getting what they wanted. This would often lead
to hours of lost work for the jeweler and aggravation for the
In custom work especially, customers sometimes have a hard time
visualizing what the finished product will look like. As
jewelers, we have a mental picture of what the item will
ultimately look like based on our past experiences. We need to
paint this picture to the customer as closely as possible to
avoid possible rejection or dissatisfaction of the finished item.
This can usually be accomplished with a detailed sketch, photo
or wax pattern.
I have learned that often a customer may not say anything to
you if he/she is unhappy with an item that you made and will take
it somewhere else to be “fixed” by another jeweler when in fact;
the whole problem originated from lack of communication. Many
times a customer will pick a ring that has a heavy texture but
will “want it to be high shine.” Or, a customer will bring in old
mountings with 20 or 30 diamonds and want them “scattered” into a
new mounting. It is difficult, if not impossible to make a ring
with that many stones in it and still have the basic design of
the ring left. What they will end up with is a “diamond” ring
that just shows the diamonds and little if any design.
Some other areas of concern (on the sales associates part) would
Proper use of the calipers. Measuring the stones properly to fit
in a blank mounting is critical, especially for channel set
mountings. I have had too many headaches caused by someone
Using a loupe to check for any cracks, chips or large inclusions
which can be risky when resetting stones. Extremely thin girdles,
Writing on the take in form that a stone is a “ruby” or
"emerald" when the stone is actually a synthetic or cheap
imitation. I always stress that the sales people write “red
stone” “green stone” etc. If the customer objects, then the
stone needs to be examined by the gemologist to confirm its
identity before it is removed from the mounting.
Valuation of the item should be based on the current replacement
value and not on what the customer thinks it is worth. It should
be noted on the take in form and signed by the customer.
Explain to the customer exactly what will be done to the custom
job or repair. Educate them. Tell them in details how a ring will
be sized or a chain repaired. This will build their confidence in
you and your establishment.
Make sure the promise date can be kept and tell the customer
that if any problems arise and this date cannot be made, you will
call them to let them know.
Make sure your take in forms are well designed and have spaces
for all the vital areas such as: description, work to be done,
phone numbers, valuation, signature, follow ups, etc.
This all is very basic stuff to most people, but it is
absolutely essential to customer satisfaction.