The Measure of the Worker
- How does one determine what a worker in the jewelry trade is
worth? By what standard is the value of a worker determined?
There is a common and misunderstood problem in the jewelry industry.
Very often those who are skilled in a singular, concentrated area
such as ring sizing are more predictable because they receive jobs
tailored to their particular skills. However, those who have
multi-functional skills are more difficult to measure because they
possess more than one set of skills.
Consider this, a sizer can produce more work in less time because
they have a simpler line of processes, their jobs have been
pre-sorted, instructions are consistent, fewer tool and materials
are needed, there is less organization and space required, the
overall process of sizing is consistent and self flowing. They are
not interrupted much nor are they required to handle any other
outside responsibilities such as ‘out-of-process’ work including
customer/phone attendance, conferring with the team and so forth.
However, a multi-talented jeweler with a multitude of function and
skills, such as a sizer/caster/setter/wax
carver/watchmaker/salesperson/designer rolled up into one requires
more time, space, organization and deals with a wider range of
responsibilities. Their bandwidth of duties will be wider. More
handling and time to use a greater range of tool and materials
will to be required. Jobs require more attention, sorting and
processing. They may be needed for consultation with a customer
about a jewelry item or timepiece. In general, working on jobs that
require more than one process or skill will take more time. Sometime
these workers receive less credit because they are labeled as
Many jewelers have found that as they expand to many fields in the
jewelry trade, the measure of their work and the processes involved
becomes more complicated. Productivity becomes illusively slower and
thereby they sometime receive less compensation than those with a
single or simpler task.
For example, one may do a counter sketch, examine and consult about
a few watches , change batteries on 7 watches, prep up for casting,
do a setting job and size 4 rings. In the end of the day the bench
progress report will only show that he or she did 5 special order
jobs. Not an impressive figure to the employer doing a daily run-by
evaluation of ‘productivity’. A sizer could do anywhere from 40 to
60 rings a day.
The morale of the story. To guess is cheap. To guess wrong is
Daniel Biery Jr.