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Perception of jewellers and the jewellery trade in Australia


#1

Hi Guys,

All the discussion about pricing items got me thinking about the
Australian jewellery trade.

Basically it’s in bad shape.

I’m in a good position to be able to talk to a lot of trade
jewellers. Apart from rural areas and the rare jeweller in the city,
the majority of jewellers are doing it tough.

There are many factors that contribute to this decline, but I’ll
list the most prominent :-

  • The ease of producing items in CAD

  • The ease of producing items in China

Both of the above are true, and to keep their heads above water a lot
of jewellers are resorting to these methods of manufacture. There’s
nothing wrong with these methods as far as business is concerned, but
it reduces the need for apprentices.

  • A jeweller cannot afford to put on an apprentice. Basically they
    want to work and can’t spend the time with an apprentice.

  • A slow economy, luxury items are the first to drop in sales when
    there is a general perception of an unstable economy.

Public perception of jewellers:

  • Jewellers are perceived to overcharge, and maybe even rip you off.
    This is not an uncommon perception. Of course we know it’s patently
    untrue.

Recognition of Jewellery Apprentices:

  • In Australia other trade apprentices are recognised for their
    years of training, their award wage is greater than a jewellers
    apprentice, they are governed by industry bodies to make sure their
    work is up to scratch.

From the above you can see there’s a need to increase the "value"
placed on jewellers, and jewellers apprentices, in Australia.

The question is “how to do this”?

One thought would be television advertisement, like a PSA, not
targeting a specific business, but the whole jewellery trade in
Australia (the president of the JAA just happens to be my boss).

Do you have any other thoughts that may help? Open to the floor.

Kindest regards Charles A.


#2

Hi Charles,

I think the PSA is a great idea! There is something similar here in
the USA with PSAs about the value and honor of trade education and
skilled labor (they focus on construction, manufacturing, etc, but
the carryover to jewelry is a logical one), complete with the
opportunity for high school students to earn scholarships to pursue
that type of training.

Both of the above are true, and to keep their heads above water a
lot of jewellers are resorting to these methods of manufacture.
There's nothing wrong with these methods as far as business is
concerned, but it reduces the need for apprentices 

I have also found success by educating my clients about the
difference between custom vs. mass production. When they seem
surprised by a price, I explain a bit to them about the process of
creation and sometimes show some process pictures of past designs.
Since I come from a sales background I believe a little honest
education and salesmanship goes a long way to highlight the value of
having a piece created or specialized for them. I don’t know about
the culture in Australia (I sure hope to visit someday), but in the
USA many clients like the exclusivity of being able to say “I had
this custom made by my jeweler”. Jewelry purchases are about the
experience, symbology, and emotions. I think maybe the key is to
offer both options and include sales training for that apprentice.

Best,
Donna W
Huntsville, AL


#3

Hi all

Jewellers are perceived to overcharge, and maybe even rip you off.
This is not an uncommon perception. Of course we know it's
patently untrue. 

Why do people hate paying for jewellery repairs? A colleague had
multiple claws replaced on a ring and a stone or 2 replaced.
Complained about the cost $600, a very reasonable price I thought.

When people tell me my jewellery labour charge is too much I ask
them what their car mechanic charges and then what their plumber
charges. Changes their minds really quickly. Also get some quotes.

Shocked a customer when I said I charge $5 to solder a jumpring
closed but $10 to solder a jumpring on a charm bracelet closed. Had
to explain the difference. Or for $5 I can attach the charm with a
lobster clasp. Seems to be the fashion these days.

If you want to talk about overcharging I find plumbers the best at
it.

Had one come to my place to clear a blocked drain, forgot the tool
for the job came back the next day. Tried to charge 2 call out fees.
Did not like my response, only paid for one call out.

This week a friend who is opening a take away food shop was quoted
$12,000 for plumbing by one guy $1,200 by another.

I think what has hurt the jewellery trade most is cheap imports of
jewellery. Also online buying from overseas.

The government does nothing to protect the trade in Australia. The
horrors of child labour and working conditions in Asia are well known
people die in these workshops, many are children. Most are paid very
low wages. But wholesalers still import it.

The daughter’s mother in law needed to have a Tiffany (LOL) bracelet
repaired, you could tell from the box, badly made, it was a fake. The
break in the toggle clasp showed the parent metal was not sterling.
People are surprised that Tiffany do not have a factory in China. Me
I am surprised they got their shoes on the right feet if they thought
Tiffany did.

My customers like the fact I make the jewellery I sell. Few hand
make these days. Especially in silver.

My wife went to a trade fair recently lots of imported jewellery at
very low prices, China and Korea. One company, no names no law
suits, had lots of jewellery from Asia and Mexico, but looking on
their website most pieces were of average quality. On their website
they claim to be a member of the JAA but do not support the
Australian trade.

Also shopkeepers work to a price point not a quality point. And as
we live in a disposable society people do not expect it to last long.
They will buy cheap jewellery from Asia rather than support
Australian made.

Until consumers support Australian made over cheap imports this
trade will have serious problems. This is a symptom of multi-cultural
ideology as opposed to multi-racial ideology. Multi- culturalism has
small self interested groups with no aim for the whole
country.Combine this with political correctness we no longer have
Easter hat parades at many primary schools in case non-Christians
are offended. Also Nativity plays have vanished. Well hello multi-
culturailsts, the Queen is our sovereign and head of the Church of
England if you don’t like it leave.

Multi-racial societies have different races living in harmony with
one goal for the country and it’s people. The different races
celebrate their cultures and share with other races. Chinese New
Year is very popular. Last time I was in Sydney went out with the wife
and son, went to a pub for a meal and drink after dinner spent hours
talking and drinking with Asians, Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese,
Thais and Koreans. Past conflicts forgotten. This was a sign of
harmony and multi-racialism at its best. Sadly I was one of the few
white people there who talked to these people. I was asked why I was
talking to them, I said my Chinese name was He Rui-De and I was born
in KL and they laughed. Not your average white racist. On another
trip I said to the concierge of the Hilton there are a lot of Asians
in Sydney now. The look on his face showed “Not another one.” Till I
said it reminded me of my favourite city/country Singapore. Then he
smiled.

Sorry for the political home truths.

Richard


#4

only the strong survive…


#5

Hi

way to go Donna

I have also found success by educating my clients about the
difference between custom vs. mass production. When they seem
surprised by a price, I explain a bit to them about the process of
creation and sometimes show some process pictures of past designs. 

This is what I do too. Clients love the reticulated silver because
each piece is unique. They will pay the same price for a reticulated
ring band as for a gem set ring. Gem rings are everywhere but in
Australia reticulated pieces are few and far between. There are many
ways of doing reticulated sterling, I take the simple approach, guess
thats the ADHD.

I get a 10 mm wide by 1.5 mm thick strip of sterling say 60 mm. Just
heat it till it begins to melt and the “waves” show play with it a
bit use the torch like a paint brush. The ends reticulate easier than
the middle too much heat and the middle pulls in on itself. Then I
quench in water. File inside side flat, that’s why I use 1.5 mm. Flat
inside and reticulated outside make a good contrast.

True up ends bend into D shape and solder. Before soldering I put
the ring into my benchmate with the join upmost and cut through with
a 2/0 saw blade. This makes seam light tight. Newbies hold joins to a
light if you can see light through the join true up till no light.
Soldering is by capillary action, solder does not fill gaps.

Quench in pickle. Round up on mandrel, AKA bash the sh*t out of it, I
used to true up the edges to be parallel. One day just filed them to
get to full metal thickness the edges can be thinned out.

Now band has waves on surface and waves on edge. Customers like
this. Now I file the outside top edges to remove reticulation, nice
and shiny frame for reticulation. File the inside edges to take off
sharp corners, slides on nicely.

Sand inside with 1200 on mandrel in flexi gives a nice satin finish.

Scratch brush reticulation with brass brush in flexi, no water no
lubrication.

Heat and quench in pickle repeat twice more. Done. Been doing them
like this for years.

Lazy yes
Fast Yes
Sell you bet. How much $50 - metal cost $10 approx time 20 mins.

Complaints never.

I do tell the customers to let the ring oxidize and clean with a
polishing cloth to give an aged appearance or if you want it to stay
shiny use a silver dip. Or bring it to me for free cleaning in my
JCR only takes seconds but I spin it out longer so they can look at
my stock, get extra sales this way.

You can take this ring further and set stones in it, shiny bezel
makes a good contrast to the reticulated. Each piece is unique.

What I like is the taking of a precision made piece of sterling and
"deforming" it into something unique.

Also I take my sterling lemel and fuse it together, bash the sh*t
out of it till about 2 mm thick. Reticulate and make a bangle. Much
better return than sending the lemel to the refiners. As I weigh each
piece before fabrication and charge on total metal weight NOT
finished weight my lemel is free! So the profit on the bangles is
great.

Next time you are bored or broke make a bangle and some money. This
is how I came to make the bangles in the first place.

Boredom and poverty (lack of metal) have led me to make some great
stuff. Also I fuse and reticulate for pendants set a stone in them
and they sell great too. Nothing like free metal to make a
silversmith happy.

Richard


#6
no names no law suits, had lots of jewellery from Asia and Mexico,
but looking on their website most pieces were of average quality>
no names no law suits, had lots of jewellery from Asia and Mexico,
but looking only their website most pieces were of average
quality 

You would be surprised at Mexico. I was in Mexico City for an
extended stay and teaching workshops. My good friends would take me
around the city daily. It was incredible What was being sold. It
wasn’t Mexican made. In the downtown area called the Xocolo (sp) The
street vendors were all selling cheap and mean cheap Chinese plastic
crap. I asked

Julio about it, and I was told that hardly anything is made in
Mexico. Now days it all gets imported from China. There are still
some artisans but you have to hunt for them. Which I did.

For me personally, Made in Mexico (Hecho en Mexico) is better made
than Made in China.

Aggie


#7

That’s a great OP asking important questions, but it may be more
something that I would want the national Chamber of Commerce or trade
groups to address (here in the US anyway). People smarter than me
need to figure that out. Maybe I don’t think big enough, but I don’t
want to expend personal energy trying to change the broad perceptions
of the buying public. I may care about it but I can’t influence it. I
think I’d feel the same if I was an Aussie. I really can’t do
anything about most external market pressures so I try not to worry
about them too much. I focus on what I can control and get my arms
around. I have identified what I love to do best and found customers
that will pay me to do what I love. Then I build around that,
sticking to my core values and trying not to let the biz stray away
from how I want to spend my life.

It’s sort of like the worldwide honey bee die off. It’s a catastrophe
caused by pesticides, herbicides, mites, industrial farming
practices. etc. It really worries me. But I can’t personally do
anything about it, except for what I can control myself. So we fill
our yard with a variety of flowers and use no pesticides or
herbicides. It’s a little thing but about all we can do to help our
friends the bees.

Mark