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Platinum scrap return from repair


#1

Hello all,

a jewelry retailer just sent me a pave ring in platinum to reduce
one size with instructions to “return scrap.” I’d like to get some
thoughts on this request. I don’t depend on scrap from left over
repairs for a major source of income. The only repairs I do are very
difficult or high quality pieces that my clients don’t want ruined by
thier normal trade repair sources. Still, with things are as slow as
they are, the money from scrap will come in handy.

I’ll call my customer and give them my estimate, but once I get the
job done I want to have a talk with them about this practice, which I
suspect will continue. I have no problem returning old mountings or
heads for the odd replacement, repair or remount, though I don’t
return worn out shanks from reshanks. Asking for the sizing scrap
seems to point to a more radical departure from normal bench repair
culture that’s one part inconvenient and 5 parts annoying.

Larry


#2

Larry,

I deal with customers from time to time on this. I tell them the
price quoted is based on me keeping the scrap. Otherwise I charge a
high rate based on the loss of the scrap. Most of the time the
amount of scrap to the customer is pointless. But some demand it. Is
there a really thick and or wide shank? In this case it one size,
what are you really going to return to them? Not very much!

Rodney


#3
Asking for the sizing scrap seems to point to a more radical
departure from normal bench repair culture that's one part
inconvenient and 5 parts annoying. 

Interesting. As you know, I’m not a professional jeweler, but I
would have assumed that returning precious metal scrap was the norm.
After all, your job is the resizing, not buying.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#4
I tell them the price quoted is based on me keeping the scrap.
Otherwise I charge a high rate based on the loss of the scrap. 

Same here. And for extra time spent gathering, packaging, etc…

EdR


#5

We buy scrap gold as well as pre-owned pieces. I always have a time
explaining to the customer who wants their gold/platinum back when
sizing a ring down. It’s a hassle because you can’t just let the
piece fall into the bench pan to be recovered later, especially when
you are working with a smaller quantity as in the amount removed
from a ring that was only sized down, say a quarter of a size. You
also have the ones who want you to keep the piece (sometimes weighing
less than.10dwt) and not charge them to do the job, this doesn’t help
keep the lights on. At the very least, “guestimate” how much the
piece will weigh, and be up front with the customer, telling them
that "the piece is worth $1.75 in scrap, I will have to add that to
the job for the added time it will take me to reclaim it for you."
Most customers don’t realize what goes into sizing a ring, and have
this magical process that they envision in their minds.-This is most
evident when talking to the 80 year old lady with the worn out shank
who thinks you can just “Mold the gold you removed back onto the thin
spots.” Don’t even waste your time trying to explain porosity. In all
actuality I just give them their metal back if they ask ahead of
time, it’s just not worth the fight. Besides, this could very well be
the type of person who thinks if you keep their gold, you might also
swap their …02ct diamond for a lesser quality one…:wink:

Just my 2.5 cents
T


#6

Larry,

Pricing for sizings whether retail or for trade is based on labor
only for sizings down or sizings up 1 size. Additional charges apply
for the metal used in sizing up more than 1 size. The difference in
the price of a down sizing and up 1 size is due to the additional
labor (two solder seams VS one solder seam).

Tell the store you would be glad to return the old metal from the
down sizings and you will from now on add the cost of new metal for
all up sizings. If they are dumb enough to take you up on this, you
will come out ahead.

Brad Simon


#7

We return every little tiny piece of scrap removed from every piece
we work on, every single time. Wholesale and retail.

I once was eavesdropping on two ladies talking about one of my
competitors. One of the ladies remarked that she just had her ring
sized there and she would never go back if it was the last place on
earth. The other asked her why and she said “They cut a piece out to
size it and they didn’t even give it back! I asked about it and they
got all huffy and told me it was only worth a few cents anyway. I
told them, I don’t care what it’s worth, it’s my gold! They went in
the back and came back out with a little piece of gold, but I know
it wasn’t mine. And I’ve been going to them for years! If you know
what’s good for you, you’ll stay away from them. They’ll rip you
off! I hate to think what else they’ve ripped me off on.”

From that moment forward, I return absolutely everything I can. More
often than not, they’ll give it back to me and say something along
the lines of “What am I supposed to do with to do with this little
bit? I’ll just lose it. You keep it.” But it is their metal and
their option, not mine. I work far too hard to gain the trust of my
customers to even take a chance that someone might think I’m ripping
them off. Especially for a nickel’s worth of metal, a plastic bag
and an extra ten seconds of time.

I also use it as a sales tool for custom work. When they ask “What am
I going to with this?” I answer, “Save it. Add it to all those other
things you have, like the one earring, the broken chain, all the
other little bits and pieces you have and bring it back. We’ll make
something cool out of it. Here look at these photos of things I’ve
made for other people using their old metal.”

Trust begins and ends with the little things. Blow off the details
(and your customer’s emotions and perceptions) at your own peril.

Dave


#8

As a rule both me and the jewelers i do repairs for add a few pounds
to the cost if a customer requests for their scrap to be returned.
Its a petty hate of mine. Generally the customer would have been
better off not asking as the gold content would weigh less than what
we add to the price. Does your jewellers setter get asked to return
his swarf? I doubt it. Sit down have a chat with them. In my opinion
its why repairers charge what they do. I personally make a third of
what the jewellers charges per repair so i think its our entitlement
to keep the gold/platinum from sizings. Obviously clasps i have
replaced for them or mounts, etc get returned to them. Next he’ll be
asking for your filings and used sandpaper too! (This is’nt a dig at
all jewelers as were on the same team) Just my thoughts though.

All the best


#9

We always keep the scrap unless someone wants it back. We then
explain that our pricing is dependent on our getting the scrap and we
charge extra for the returned metal. I’ve been doing this since 1969
and that’s always been the rule in whatever shop I’ve worked in.

Many of the old timers I worked with saved their scrap for
retirement. These days we use our refined metal to make more jewelry.
Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer
www.timothywgreen.com


#10

Hi Larry,

a jewelry retailer just sent me a pave ring in platinum to reduce
one size with instructions to "return scrap." 

I’d suspect the request for the return of the scrap from a platinum
resizing is influenced by the current price of platinum.

Since your customer is a retail jeweler, he may send out a lot of
rings for resizing & over a period of time, the amount of scrap could
be significant if it’s all returned to him. In a way I can’t blame
him for asking for it’s return.

One way around loosing the value of the scrap would be to quote a
resizing price based on the return of the scrap in every case. That
way you won’t come out on the shot end & if the customer doesn’t ask
for the scrap you’ll get a small (very small) tip.

Dave


#11
but I would have assumed that returning precious metal scrap was
the norm.. 

Yep, Al. We do quite a lot of repair, lately. Always do a certain
amount. We don’t return ring sizing bits or broken settings either,
just because most people will just lose them anyway. We DO return
anything significant, though. If the word comes back that the
customer wants it, we do so cheerfully and without charge or
annoyance. It’s their property, ultimately. Unless you’re doing 50
jobs a week it’s just lunch money, anyway. As always, don’t sweat the
small stuff…

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#12

Its not unheard of to impose ‘the tweezer charge’.

By the time you subtract the thickness of whatever blade you use,
times two, a one size out will be on the order of.060" thick. A
sliver in terms of finding it in the benchpan. It now becomes a
separate operation to locate and bag it, hence a small extra ‘tweezer
charge’ because time is money and your production line has halted
until you find that piece.

Assuming a cross section of 2.5 x 1.5mm that eensie piece is worth
about $4 less the usual $50 minimum refining charge so you’d have to
do a dozen or so similar sizing jobs to break even. No wonder tiny
bits are usually left fallen. It costs you(the benchie) money to
retrieve their scrap.

When you have this talk with the retailer, explain how retrieving
insignificant scrap is a drain on your productivity which, since
you’re in business, must be charged for. Its just good business
sense. If its a one time thing to please the consumer, no biggie. If
they want all scrap returned every time, its a service that has to be
paid for separately or else an increase in sizing fees is in order
because they requested the extra service. They may not like it but
they should respect it.


#13

I get requests for return of scrap occasionally. More often than not
it isn’t the value that drives it but some sentimental issue. The
ones who do it for the value usually look a little sheepish when
they see how little it usually is. I don’t charge more based on it,
but I probably should–not because of the lost scrap dollars-- but
because it’s a pain in the neck to keep track of a bunch of tiny
pieces of metal when I’m in the middle of ten different jobs.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#14

Hi Larry,

I feel the same way you do about that. I typically don’t complain, I
just bump the estimate up a bit to more than cover the returned
scrap’s value. Keeping the scrap is factored into our prices, so
returning it to the customer will cost them a little more. I
understand why the retail customer wants it back, they feel like
they spent so much for the ring that the little bit of scrap must be
worth a fortune (wrong). If it’s the jeweler that wants it back for
themselves, that’s a different issue. That’s a sign of a jeweler
that isn’t interested in a win-win relationship with their goldsmith.
The jeweler should be more concerned about the financial well being
of his goldsmith if they are interested in a long term relationship.
It kinda lets you know who loves you and who see’s you as only a tool
for their own personal success.

Mark


#15

Here is what I would say to such a request. In order to return a few
slivers of metal, I have to completely clean my bench before I begin
the work on the piece and do the same after I finish. I also must use
new filters on polishing equipment and change ultrasonic liquid.
Please send me packaging material for filters and ultrasonic liquid
and arrange for FEDEX pickup. I also have to vacuum my shop before
and after the repair and I will be sending you the vacuum bag
containing precious metal dust. Refining all these materials to
extract the precious metal will be your responsibility.

You will be charged for the cost of new filters, vacuum bag, and
ultrasonic liquid. The time value to do all these steps will be
billed at a rate of $150 per hour, and it should take from 2 to 3
hours to prepare my shop for your repair and collect all precious
metal after the job is done. Also the work itself would have to be
done at slower rate in order to preserve precious metal and bill
would be higher because of it. Since it required significant
commitment of my time and resources, I would require security deposit
in the amount of $500 and I will bill you for the balance later.

Such requests reminds me of a restaurant joke. A couple walk into the
restaurant and asks a waiter if soft drink refills are free. When
waiter responds affirmatively, they order one glass of Pepsi and 2
drinking straws.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#16
a jewelry retailer just sent me a pave ring in platinum to reduce
one size with instructions to "return scrap." I'd like to get some
thoughts on this request. 

We’ve had accounts from time to time where every job envelope was
marked “return all scrap” with a rubber stamp. it was just a routine
thing they did, without any significant thought behind it.

I’ve said in another post that I don’t generally return scrap to
retail customers. They have little to no use for it. But a store,
sending you a steady stream of work, getting the scrap back, will
build up an increasing, though small, pile of scrap that they, like
you, can sell to a refiner. The shops I’ve dealt with aren’t
persnickity about this. They don’t care so much of you diligently
return every speck, no matter how much fuss and bother you have to go
through. Instead, they want the obvious bits back. If you miss a few,
they don’t much care. I don’t know if your account, Larry, is this
way or not. I’d suggest talking to them and suggesting that your
prices figure in the small but significant-over-time cost savings to
you, and if they really want all the scrap back, it might affect
what you have to charge. Suggest that any actual usable parts, heads,
usable shanks, findings, etc, would of course be returned. Perhaps
that’s all they wish…

Peter


#17
I would have assumed that returning precious metal scrap was the
norm. After all, your job is the resizing, not buying. 

Sure, I’ll return the scrap if requested - but two questions. What
is the customer going to do with a small piece of metal for which
they have no use. Second, I guess they wouldn’t mind if I raise the
cost of the sizing by the scrap value of the metal, huh?

Lets put it another way. When I do a custom job, I closely estimate
the materials I will need. This is a skill learned over many years
and jobs. I then build that total into my estimate for the job. Not
just the small piece I cut out from the total to do the job…the
whole total. Why? Cause the scraps will need to be reclaimed, whether
by me or a refiner. Therefore it costs the customer. Same thing for
sizing. It is not just the procedure of resizing…it is a matter
of time, equipment, skill, etc, etc. That little piece of scrap adds
into all that.

Al, when you buy a piece of rough and it costs you say $10. You cut
a stone from it but have left overs that you have paid for. Maybe and
maybe not you can get some small plugs out of it for earrings. So you
must build the cost of the entire slab into the cost of the
cab…right even though your job was just to cut the cab?

Cheers from Don in SOFL.


#18
Asking for the sizing scrap seems to point to a more radical
departure from normal bench repair culture that's one part
inconvenient and 5 parts annoying. 
Interesting. As you know, I'm not a professional jeweler, but I
would have assumed that returning precious metal scrap was the
norm. After all, your job is the resizing, not buying. 

The job, Al, is also giving the customer the best value for their
money, for the service they’re paying for. The average customer has
absolutely no use for that little bit of precious metal. It’s too
small an amount to actually sell, unless the customer has managed to
accumulate a good deal more metal to add it to. And when those
customers DO sell any scrap metal they’ve got, they generally don’t
get more than half it’s market value, if even close to that. In
contrast, the bench jeweler sells scrap for a few percent under that
market value, if it’s sold at all. Often, those scraps can be
directly reused on other jobs. All that means that the scrap retains
more of it’s value if kept at the bench instead of returned. And
that value can mean the jeweler either makes a better profit margin,
which is good for the business, or is able to reduce his/her costs of
buying all new metal. Also good. In the end, it allows the
competative jeweler to charge just a little bit less for the
service. The customer gets a better value for their scrap if the
jeweler is able to pass on the value of the scrap in the form of
better service, or lower price, than they get if the scrap is
returned.

In addition, simply the process of returning the scrap can be a PIA.
When sizing, one is cutting out often a fairly small sliver of metal.
That can drop easily into the bench pan, and one then has to spend
time finding it right then, At the least, you spend time putting it
in a zip lock, keeping it with the job, etc. That slows down the job,
at least a little. Many jewelers I’ve known or worked with charge
slightly more if asked to return the scrap unless there’s a good
practical reason, such as if the scrap is a part that concievably
would be needed again in the future. Things like bracelet links
removed, or other usable parts. Those sorts of things, I’d normally
return as a routine matter. Same thing if the scrap is actually a
significant amount of metal with significant value, rather than the
often pennies the sizing scrap might be worth. But the little bits
cut out in sizing? Not normally returned unless requested.

Peter


#19
Asking for the sizing scrap seems to point to a more radical
departure from normal bench repair culture that's one part
inconvenient and 5 parts annoying. 

If this is a once and a while request (customers will sometimes ask
the store owner for the scrap) no problem.

But if it is the store owner policy pushing to squeeze you then this
is penny wise dollar foolish. I used to work in pretty large
batches. The inconvenience alone would require me to charge more…If
not on this job then on the next ten.

My best account never questioned my prices and never needed to. I
made sure he always made money and I made money. My worst account
tried asking for the bench sweeps the first day I moved my shop into
his store. I simply said no. Whenever I was squeezed on the price for
a job…It would cost him more in the long run.

In short, for me, it depends on who’s asking for the scrap.


#20
I'll return the scrap if requested - but two questions. What is the
customer going to do with a small piece of metal for which they
have no use. 

Whatever they want. That may include saying “keep it.”

Second, I guess they wouldn't mind if I raise the cost of the
sizing by the scrap value of the metal, huh? 

I certainly wouldn’t. I’d much rather all the factors be up front
and visible. I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t charge more for
upsizing than downsizing, either.

I understand now that many jewelers factor this into their price
calculations, but I’ll bet that most of the customers don’t know
that. We’ve seen here that some enlightened customers actually
realize there’s going to be material left over. Why not put up a sign
that says “the average ring downsizing results in a small amount of
scrap, worth about a buck two ninety eight, and we have factored that
into our price.” That might stop that rich old lady from bad-mouthing
you to her friends.

My point is, don’t hide it, then you don’t have to get upset when
some customer realizes you’re hiding it.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ