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Mass produced elsewhere!

Dear All on Orchid

I heard only yesterday that two MORE Toronto jewellery factories
employing well over 250 craftsperson’s are now pulling up stakes and
moving elsewhere. Over to a 3rd world country, I can’t mention the
country by name as some Orchidians might be from ‘that’ country. So
lets just say Southern Oceania…:>). But suffice to say, that our
Canadian and your American jewellery trade is suffering immeasurably
due to this “get up and go” attitude. How in blazes can ‘we’ compete
collectively to the absolute low wages of $1.00 per day. Yes, I did
say $1.00 USF’s, per day, no matter what they do, setting, mfg’ing.
that turns around to only $30.00 per month. If a large company
employing 300 folks, they only have to set aside only $300.00 per
day for all of that work being produced. Big deal !

Can you compete with these numbers?? hardly! One friend of mine has
lost 60% of his business due to this new turn of events. As I stated
on another web-site, “we over here” should teach our retail clients
that ‘this’ ring you are buying is from THIS country. As a friend of
mine said that this is our newer economy, we have a lot of teaching
to do. This way it will make our own pockets richer for it. Try
saying…“Buy Canadian, or Buy American”. I know of one 'box store '
approached a large company up here and said outright, either YOU
move away in total, or you don’t get our business, you are too
expensive. WE will tell you how to much to charge ‘us’. They did
just that and now they are moving! “Gerry, the Cyber-Setter !”…:>(

Gerry; I have to agree with you, the only way we can compete is by
specializing, I have a client that sends most of their work to an US
based company that sends the work to a developing nation, (not the
US or Canada). They own a factory down there and employ 70 people;
the only way I can compete is by producing my orders in far less
time. I have spoken with this company and their rep asked me if I was
not upset because their company was getting the lion’s share of the
work. I replied “Not really, I’m just glad to get any work” and
besides (I can only do so much any way and keep my quality at a level
I’m comfortable with). I guess it is a sad commentary on the plight
of the North American Craftsman but NAFTA set the way and the big box
stores forced the play.

I firmly believe that Craftsmen and women in other countries deserve
the right to work; I just wish AMERICAN companies did not own the
companies for which they worked.

I live in West Tennessee, in a community of less than 10,000 people,
when I moved here 8 years ago the work force was about 60% textile
and other light manufacturing (mostly textiles) and 30% Agricultural.
Now it’s something like 15% Agricultural, 20% unemployed and the rest
working at Mc Donald’s and the big box stores or driving 90 miles
one way to Memphis. Property values have actually dropped due to the
over abundance of repossessed homes and bankrupt businesses. I think
the point is that WE have in our greed to make more money, caved in
to the BOX STORE notice I was nice and didn’t say WAL-MART. Some just
went for the greed; their employees were just bodies with no faces,
families, or community ties. Moreover, defiantly with no respect.

Kenneth Ferrell

Can you compete with these numbers?? 

If we are good artisans, we can beat the mass produced items by
being unusual and well crafted. So, we have to charge more . …
that’s the way it should be!

I have in my possession a receipt invoice book from 1974…guess how
much we were being paid for trade work for stone setting? .65 cents
for basic claw setting, and how much did someone offer me for doing
the same style 30 years later…the absolute same number. .60
cents, honestly! I kid you not ! has he not heard of cost of
living? Gerry!

Price for stone setting

I am in New York City and sell to the stone setters in The Big
Apple. This is one of the major Gateways for Imported mountings,
Castings and Unfinished jewelry & Cut Gem Stones. We see products
coming from China, Dominican Republic, Equador, Hong Kong, India,
Indonesia, Israel, Italy, Thailand, & Turkey. We also see that a lot
of the stone setters are coming from these countries and to them
0.60 cents a stone is a lot of money.

In fact the going rate is far lower and it is alarming that the
material that comes to New York is now being diverted to a third
country and the stone setting is being done at rates of 2 cents each
for example in Equador.

We would be glad if we could atleast sell the labels and boxes for
this finished Jewelry. But with the abundance of Computer and
software now even the packing and bar code labeling along with the
mark down sale price for today’s American Jewelry giants like
Kohl’s, Target and Walmart & Outlet Centers. A piece of Jewelry with
genuine gems and precious metal is being mass produced in perhaps
several countries.

We can visualize a scene where-- gold from Africa sold by a Swiss
giant,— cast in Dominican Republic to an Italian Designer based in
USA— is being set with Afghanistan & Brazilian Stones that were
polished in Thailand, India & Israel— shown at trade Fairs in
Hongkong, Las Vegas & Basel,---- sold on QVC and at Macy’s /
Dillard’s or at Duty free shop at the airport in Istanbul Turkey or
Frankfurt Germany bought by a successful immigrant that came from
any one of these countries or an American soldier returning home
from Iraq for all we are immigrants no matter where we are & when we

That is where I say so what!! Let the market decide what it wants. I
will end up selling what sells. We will dump the Telex machines &
Fax machines & jump on the Internet. We will never see another
Shoemaker because we all end up buying new shoes in a box so just
like the Shoemaker jewelers will be extinct. Our kids will not work
for pennies like us. We will have a better life drink Juice from
Paper Boxes crib about the environment & switch between Low Carb and
Low Cholesterol diets. Hey!! that makes me hungry Bye.

Kenneth Singh

HI Ken S. When I was reading your posting, it actually made me a bit
ill to read what is going on within “our” trade, on both sides of the
CAN-AM border too! This kind of news is really unsettling to us, the
craftspeople who have worked many hours overtime just to make
"ends-meet"…and see that their own labours and pricing have been
subjected to the off-shore companies doing their own work…02
cents a setting?

Ken and all, it took me only 9 years to learn this wonderful and
rewarding career, it is rather disgusting to see it wasted away by
some 3rd world country, no names here are ever mentioned. I would
gladly walk away from this trade. but now I am on a journey of
helping and teaching others using both media’s; verbal and the print.
I am showing them how to appreciate quality to see certain settings
can be done at their own bench’s.

These students will definitely be the winners…let some other
off-shore individual do what they want and live on the .02… but
’we’ must keep our head held high and just do our own thing! own
.02 cents of talking, not setting!..:>)…Gerry!

Kenneth, Has anything really changed? We only know more now that the
lines of communication are so instant.

It took a week for Life Magazine to show us what the week had held.
NBC gives e-alerts in seconds of an event.

My life span DC 3’s to SST’s. Silk hose to paint on color to nylon.
Tiffany lamps, and mahogony furniture discarded for fluorescent
lamps and formica on chrome. Western Union to Internet.

Treasures have always come from the hands of man, and will continue
to do so. That man/woman can be anywhere in this world, some
material can come from outer space.

There will always be an Agora. Your philosophy is right on, sell
what the market will buy at the price it will bear. For your 15
minutes of fame, create from the heart, it will sell, if not now,
Estate is a magic word.

Crying for what had been is missing what will be. I read Orchid is
now 5000 strong, are there not buyers among us?

There are unmet needs, read the messages, see what you can do about
it. Don’t miss the forest for the trees. Terrie