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[pros and cons] Job change


Contemplating going from working for myself for 18 years to working
for a jewelry store found by Christiansen Group. Have any out there
ever made that leap and what have been you pros and cons? The stable
income seems very different than the up and down cycle you are in
being self employed. What does a designer/bench jeweler/diamond
cutter/wax caver/lapidary faceter-carver ask with almost 20 years

Family…moving…so much to contemplate. Hope someone out there
has had similar thoughts and what have you all experienced?

    Contemplating going from working for myself for 18 years to
working for a jewelry store found by Christiansen Group 

I’m going in the other direction. (I’ll take your trade accounts, if
you want to get rid of them!) I’m tired of being told "I’m at the
top of the pay scale, anyone can be replaced, if you won’t do it,
we’ll just send it out (along with a few other of your commissions),
etc. There are some seriously grim tendencies at work in the retail
trade, not the least of which is high turnover. Loyalty is something
they expect, but don’t expect to have to give. They conspire to keep
your wages down, using collections of resume’s left lying around to
rattle your sense job security, sub-contractors (if you’re on
commision) to “cherry-pick” your commissions, etc. It will take them
about 4 years to set up your replacement, just about long enough for
you to figure out you have no future there, and it can get real nasty
near the end. I’m going through that now. They know I’m looking, so
they watching your back. The worst people in the sales department
(usually the worst brown-nosers too) will become management. They
will not be trained to manage, just allowed to bully. Think I’m
cynical? Let’s see if there are any others out there. e-mail me if
you like. I also know good people to work for, but I need more
control more challenges more money

I know what people are going to say, running your own business is no
piece of cake. I know, I do that too. I have to, my wages are to
low to survive on. Maybe I’m just too tired from working two jobs.


Ron hello! Couldn’t believe my eyes when I read your post! I took a
job after being on my own for eighteen years. I have 27 years
invested in being a jeweler. I have done well. Speaking more of
quality and customer appreciation; both wholesale and retail. Been to
Spectrum a few times with pieces. The big money, big store, super
designer opportunity hasn’t happened; yet! You see that is the
dilemma! You will have the same questions you posted a year later. I
still do. I do side work still! Can’t say no. Just retail customers
only. Anyway a year later it is comfortable to have the steady
income. The work could be more custom and less repair for my likes.
But I have accepted that. My design skills are unused, many of my
finer skills; bright cut and pave’ are not used. I have bright cut 18
stones in my time their. Dan even fewer. They have us channel set
everything; even the platinum pieces are designed for channel. I am
working for $22. per hour with a promise of a retirement package.
Well the year is up. Still no retirement package. The other jeweler
has been there 6 years and that is the history. At 47 I NEED A
RETIREMENT PACKAGE. I plan to make my visit in front of the boss next
week. In retrospect I would still do it however. We are financially
better off. I have more free time with my family. Until I find or
make an opportunity for myself I am staying put! In parting don’t
expect to quell your drive for personal achievement. It will still be
there. Just direct it in to the quality of your work. Stay where your
at (for good if you found the right place) and enjoy the good parts,
and accept the bad. About 10 days after I took this job, Vic Davis
called. We made effort to put me in a position just a couple months
ago. That is a long story. But I came away with a lot of respect for
Vic. He is not just trying to make his money. He is trying to do the
right thing for you. I guess you can tell Vic has a fan! We have
gotten to know each other fairly well. Trust him. But make him work.
Get a good package! Don’t deal with promises like I did. (The job I
have, the boss called me himself.) That is the nice thing about Vic;
he is placed quite advantageously for you! He will not be, once your
pulled up to your bench at your new job. I would be as creative and
performance oriented as you can for a package. Get your two weeks
vacation, simple IRA, etc. Good luck! I know this helps! Tim


I have had to give up my own business due to health reasons. Also,
the entire thing was getting to be too much stress on my mind and
body. But, at the same time, I would not be able to work for anyone
but myself. I did not work in jewelry. So, I don’t know the politics
involved in your line of work. I owed and taught at my own ballet
school. I have since gone into making my own jewelry, for fun, and
some profit…(no profit yet, too early…mostly fun.) But, either side
is double edged. One hand: working for someone: you have a steady pay
check, if you can stand the garbage others will deal out to you. Owning
your business: you must find a way to get customers, and keep them. If
you are tender-hearted, then it is not a good thing…as people are
flaky. They tell you things, build up your self esteem, and as soon as
they find a better deal, will go somewhere else, and trash on you. If
you work for yourself, you only have you to ans. to. Except for your
clients…and that means, you are totally responsible for your work.
You have no store name or other person to back you if something goes
wrong. It can be both a blessing, and a chore to have your own
business. I am not sure you will make as much money doing jewelry on
your own, as if you had a regular job. But, at least you have
advantages, you set your hours. And you make the decisions as to what
you want to do. But again, after a while, it too can become very
tedious. You have no middle person to buffer the clients demands or
complaints. The entire business is you. And if you get large enough to
hire others to help you, you are still the one the clients will go to
with complaints, etc. So, working for someone has its good points, as
well as bad, and so does owning your own business. There is no easy
choice…depends on your personality. Good luck to each of you… I had
my ballet school for 24 years, and would not have given it up, but
was forced to do so for health reasons. M


Boy did you open a can of worms… I worked for the worlds 2 largest
jewelry retailers before they were one giant, and several other
corporations on lease operation for their instore jeweler… I did
this for about 12 years including a session with a large remount
company on the road. Everyone of them and I do mean EVERYONE . Loves
to play that game of you work for us you work for yourself. When it is
to their advantage you work for yourself. When it is to their
advantage you work for them…or else they play, these are the company
policies. Until some regional manager with enough stroke decides he
wants you to do it another way and then its do like you are told and
shut up we don’t care what we said before or what your professional
opinion is. The trade accounts I worked for about ten years were
almost as bad. We want it cheap, yesterday, and perfect and then we
will try to make you cut the price on delivery. Oh yes, and any
problem the customer has with the piece, like driving over it with a
dump truck, is your fault and you should replace the stones and the
mounting for free. Three years ago I said enough and opened my own
studio. Now I sell through galleries and to private commissions. I
make more money for my mountings and get the profit from the diamond
sales and other stones as well. It was pretty tough the first year
when I dropped that $30k in trade work but it was worth the struggle.
Last night I had an open house and sold $3k worth of jewelry, and
tomorrow I have two clients coming in to look at a 2ct and a 1.75ct
diamond. Going to be a great Christmas. Oh and all those trade
accounts and retail chains can kiss off for good , I do not do that
any more. (you did ask) Frank Goss

    Couldn't believe my eyes when I read your post! My design skills
are unused, many of my finer skills; bright cut 

Yep, sounds familiar. I have a BFA and MFA in metals, awards, best
of shows, etc. They use me for what I do that they think makes them
the most money. Custom work. My designs, when I get a chance to
make them, sell quickly. Why not? Doing custom work, I understand
the tastes of the community and can “guide” my designs in certain

    I am  working for $22. per hour with a promise of a retirement
package. Well the year is up. Still no retirement package. The other
jeweler has been there 6 years and that is the history. 

Yep, familiar again. I’m making less than the jeweler before me got
when he left 2.5 years ago. Actually, I make about the same, but I
do more work for it, since my base wage is $0.50/hr lower and my
commissions are about $0.50 higher than his (I work harder and
faster). And the problem with commission on custom work is, the more
money you make them, the more inventory they can buy, the less custom
they need. When that didn’t keep the ceiling on my wage do to
attracting a higher class clientel, they started to farm out the
gravy custom work to a subcontractor. . .yep. . .mister “Master
Gluesmith”. . .anyone here suspect why I’ve got a little ground glass
in my gizzerd?

    But I came away with a lot of respect for Vic. He is not just
trying to make his money 

I hope I didn’t give Ron the impression that nobodies to be trusted.
Fact is, employers can “p*ss” test us, credit check us, call our
references, hire private investigators, whatever. Most of us workers
don’t have resourses like that. They will flat-out ask us what we
made at our last job. If you answer that, you are going to set the
tone of your compensation from that time on untill you either quit,
are fired, or retire! Those resourses are out there though. I say,
before you take a job with someone, find out what his competition
says about him. Usually they’re tight lipped, but you can read
between the lines. I think us jewelers who are working for other
people need a UNION, or at least, some sort of clearing
house that isn’t a chicken coop run by foxes.


Are you looking for a change? Do you want to work 10:30am to
7:00pm, Monday through Friday? We are looking for some special
people to work in of our custom design and repair shop. You’d be
working along side some of the best people in the Dallas/Ft
Worth area. We’re one big happy family, but we do work hard,
especially during the holidays. We have an opening for: Jewelry
Polisher We will train you in the following areas: External and
internal polishing/finishing of merchandise. Ultrasonic cleaning
and Steam cleaning of merchandise. Visually inspect merchandise
for cleanliness. Match merchandise to correct repair envelope. We
Offer: The chance to make excellent money. A great group of people
to work with. A competitive benefits package. Opportunity for
training advancement in the jewelry industry.

Jared, the leader in design and repairs in Dallas/Fort Worth
Area has openings for quality minded people. Only those who are
interested in jewelry as career need apply. If you want to learn
more about a good future in the jewelry business, we should
talk. Call Roger at (972) 459-5191 on between 10am and 6pm. EOE


Roger W. Kitchens

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