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Quality


#1

Hi All,

I’ve just received a fascinating assignment from AJM magazine to
do an article on what “quality” means to different people in the
industry. So, I thought I’d put the question to the great folks
on this list: what does “quality” mean to you? When a customer
says that “quality” is important to them, what do you think they
usually mean? How do you provide that quality?

I’d like to showcase answers from across the industry – from
one-person, spare-bedroom-shop jewelry makers and designers to
large casting houses and volume manufacturing companies. So I
hope to hear from lots of you – and maybe get an interesting
conversation going at the same time!

I think it’d be interesting if you replied to the list, since
I’m sure others will also be interested to see the different
perceptions of “quality,” but if you wish to keep your comments
private, feel free to e-mail me directly at @Suzanne_Wade.

Thanks in advance for your responses!

Suzanne Wade
AJM Contributing Editor
SuWade@ici.net
Phone/Fax 508-339-7366


#2

Quality means providing a well made product at a fair price (not
necessarily a low price but a fair price) and backing it up with
stringent guarantees.


#3

A long time ago, on my first day of work in a factory, the boss
asked me what quality meant. I said it meant well made jewelry
with high clarity diamonds. Nope, he said. Quality is what the
customer thinks it is.

The factory was making commercial stuff and obviously his point
was that for me to not be a snob – this was the best the
customer could afford.

-Elaine


#4

Part of what quality means to me is using the best materials and
processes to make a piece of jewelry. I share a studio with 3
other jewelers, all women, so my work gets evaluated constantly
for design, wearability, and desirablity. I know I have made
something special when one of my studio mates wants the piece. I
want to use the best gems, and I work with my clients to achieve
that objective.

Rick Hamilton


#5

For me quality means: Wellmade, no skimping on materials to
save money. Solid construction, must withstand the use (and
abuse) the piece is intended for (this needs to be part of the
design process). The finish must be perfect all over, no nasty
surprises when you look inside or underneath! I hope every piece
of jewellery I produce is a quality piece - I certainly strive to
make it so. If a customer says quality “isn’t” important, just
price, I point out how short term the savings will be when
problems occur later, but if they are still adamant, I decline
the job (I value my reputation too much to let shoddy work go out
with my name attached). I believe we should always produce the
best work we are capable of - even if no-one else is aware of it,
I will KNOW if I could have done better!

Ruta Brown
(in drizzly England, still waiting for Spring…)


#6

Hi Suzanne Wade, You are correct in realizing that there are
different versions of the word “quality” in the Jewelry trade…
just as in any other business. When it comes to comparing a
casting and finished jewelry in any material, you will often
hear people mention that “They have perfect castings” or “Their
product is better”. It is often when you put items side by side
and analyze the final finished product that the differences in
"quality " can be seen. Some people put their castings in a small
vibrator for 2 hrs antique them and put them into steel shot and
they say they have a "perfect " piece…perhaps perfect in the
eye of the beholder…or maybe perfectly acceptable for that item
and that market. Many of our customers on the other hand, have
us produce items that have broad, perfectly smooth surfaces that
reflect like a mirror… in this case, the smallest possible flaw
stands out like a car with it’s fender missing.This means
starting with perfect castings,using various prefinishing
techniques to remove gates …multi step vibratory finishing…
magnetic pin polishing and then polishing the items to a perfect
mirror finish.If the customer requires a different
finish,including 2 tone…antique…satin…we are more than
happy to please… after all , thats what our business is about.
We are a full service small shop that handles 1 off pieces for
designers to 3000 +pcs per week in Sterling, gold ,bronze and
Pewter. So , for us, thats what quality means…mirror
finishes… you pull out all the stops… and you give the
customer what they ask for … on time and at a reasonable price.
Daniel Grandi Racecar Jewelry Co. http://www.racecarjewelry.com
Tel:401-461-7803


#7

I’ve just received a fascinating assignment from AJM magazine to
do an article on what “quality” means to different people in the
industry.

Awesome assignment Suzanne!

I am certain we will have some diverse answers! Here’s mine…

Quality is always about personal integrity for me.

To express as honestly and directly as possible the emotions I
am feeling while designing and then fabricating a piece.

It is essential for me to wait for the client who knows this as
well.

Without this intuitive connection the communication I find
necessary to maintain “quality” is missing and my work will
reflect this situation.

I am not a production bench jeweler, don’t want to be. I have
great respect for bench jewelers who can deal with the vast
array of clients they must learn to please. And strive to
maintain artistic freshness and joy in their work. It is not my
way.

I used to think that certain functional techniques were
necessary for a piece to have “quality”… until I started
"seeing" through the eyes of other cultures and enjoying the
creative energy that comes through the mere assemblege of found
elements into jewelry by artists without any training but the joy
of creation.

The piece is EVERYTHING.

WOW, I love when I discover that kind of creative honesty and
directness.

When I create jewelry that my client wants to wear every day and
then to bed, I feel that I have succeded in embuing my work with
quality that has meaning for both of us.

I am excited to see what other views will be expressed on this
idea/l of quality! Salud to Orchid

All the best in all things,

Bill

Mystic Merchant -www. mysticmerchant.com …ICQ# 8835495 Original
Jewelry,Gems,Crystals-Contemporary, Metaphysical , Shamanic & New Age
Ethnography Bill Mason 10550 Fox Ridge Rd Semmes, Alabama 36575 USA…PH#
334-645-9081


#8

Suzane, I am so glad someone asked me this question!!! It is sad
to say but in the past ten years of my involvement in this
industry, and by that I mean the actual hands on technical end of
the jewelry business, I haven’t come across very much well
constructed quality pieces… I have done repairs in a big trade
shop for a three year stretch and we did probably 250 to 300
jobs a day between 5 bench jewelers… Sizings chain solders and
that sort of thing… With that brief history of my once boring
job I could tell you I have seen thousands and thousands of poor
quality pieces that these so called big companies are putting
out… Now to what quality actually means to me… I do all of my
own wax carving, casting, stone seting and finishing, and if I
wouldn’t let my mother wear the piece, it doesn’t leave my
shop…Most jewelers I have worked with simply do the job to get
it done… I take the extra steps to make it perfect… Quality
means well manufactured pieces with good strong walls if channel
set, heavy yet nicely finished prongs if prong set, strong
durable shanks on rings so they won’t break the minute the
customer leans on their hand the wrong way… Nothing paper thin.
If there are stones in any piece of jewelry, the stones must be
set perfectly with no air to be seen in between the prongs and
stone. No cheater set channel set stones and by this I mean
stones that are in a channel but the setter has pushed a tiny
bead down the side of th channel wall… More on channel setting,
when a channel is finished it should have very straight crisp
walls, and the metal above the stones that actully holds the
stones in place should be substantial, no less the 1/2mm in
thickness… I see alot of channel set work where I could simply
pick the stones out of the channel because the channel rails
were hammered down so far, that there was bearly anything holding
the metal in… I could go on and on and on about what quality
means to me but I will keep this short by simply saying this…
Quality is not based on the price of the piece although a quality
piece most likely will be more expensive. Quality means a
durable well manufatcures, well set, piece of jewelry that should
last a life-time… no sloppy craftsmanship. and if I would let my
mother wear it then you know it is quality…

Sorry for the book, but like I said I have a bone to pick with
alot of jewelry makers out there who boast quality and don’t
deliver… I could preach about quality until I am blue on the
face…

Marc Williams
MarcCo Jewelry Mfg.


#9

Suzanne, What follows is something I posted on orchid almost two
years ago.It still seems to sum up my feelings about quality from
the perspective of a goldsmith.I have striven for quality in my
work and I feel I have attained some measure of it.For me
quality means insuring that each peice is as well made as
possible.For some the triumph lies in increasing their proffits
by decreasing the weight of stones or metal,or by decreasing the
grade of the stones.Others may cut corners by speeding through
setting or finnishing processes.The quality I give each peice is
the best I can in all aspects of its manufacture.For me this is
the difference between fine quality and poor quality.

Scott Hepner
The Diamond Cellar
Columbus,Ohio* Subject: speed

Pet peeve time.There seems to be an eternal one-up-man-ship when
it comes to speed.We seem to need a quantitative measure of our
ability.He did 10,She did 20,and I did 30.Invariably,these
discussions are centered around the least demanding of
tasks.Basic stone setting,sizing,ect… Qualitative
measure,degree of difficulty,and complexity are thrown out.

Speed and efficiency are the means by which we make our trade
profitable. However,it is the quality of our style,beauty,and
craftsmanship that make our work endure.

In short,we achieve that which we seek.If we seek speed,we will
achieve speed.In the process,we will train ourselves to use the
fastest method.sometimes this yealds good results,sometimes
not.It almost never yealds the best results.

If we place quality as our priority,we will train ourselves to
achieve quality.In the process,we gain proficiency that also
brings us speed.The path of quality is the slowest to
develop,but gives us the most in the long run.

The next time someone says they can set 100 stones per hour,ask
them how many of the were large,high quality,emerald
cut,emeralds. So much for my soap box.

             Scott Hepner

#10

If you would like to peruse an “alternative” definition and
exposition on “Quality”, get a copy of Zen and the Art of
Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M. Pirsig. Interesting read from
the mid-70’s


#11

Quality to me means that a piece is constructed to last, and not
flimsy (wearability). It also means that someone took the extra
effort to put a sterling silver finding on a sterling silver
piece, even if obviously handcrafted, in leiu of something you
can pick up in a craft store cause its easy or cheap. Where it
concerns its not the size or color, but the clarity
and lack of inclusions, that counts. Ultimately, quality is
effort that can be seen (and hopefully appreciated).

God bless,
Tom and Donna
gemoriah
jestre2u@aol.com


#12

Hi Suzanne,

Quality work is something that you know when you see it. I
suppose everyone’s standards are different but you must try to
exceed your own and your peers expectations. I will want to show
a finished piece to the finest craftsmen I know and have them say
’excellent workmanship.’ Quality is something that is a judgment
call, the judges are the craftsperson doing the work and the end
customer. But more than that, its anyone who might see your
work, possibly years after you are gone. Your work needs to be
able to stand up to that test of time, so in 100 years the
goldsmith on some space station will look at your work and say
’man, they really did quality work in the old days’.

Mark P,
WI


#13

Suzanne: Let me preface this by stating that I manufacture tools
and equipment for the jewelry industry. What I will say has a
direct bearing on what I do but it may also be used by people who
produce jewelry and craft items.

I think the word “value” is broader -and thus more important-
because it encompasses quality and other factors: Quality…
Flawlessly performs its intended role for many years
Aesthetics… Conveys care and dedication in its design and
execution Uniqueness… Define an unfulfilled need and satisfy it
with a totally new product Timing… Get it to the customer when
needed Service… Inventory repair parts and stand ready to
service any item regardless of age Instructions… Package full
and clear instructions with all products Tech Help… Aid any
user to derive maximum utilization of our products Continuing
Improvement… Upgrade product, instructions etc. Never be
satisfied! Price… Set a fair price. Never add a “designer
label” factor into the cost. Cheap shoddy imitations of our
products come to market from time to time but the customer will
derive years of happy and productive use from our products. That
is value.

Ray Grossman
Ray Grossman Inc.


#14

Hello All: Quality??? I consider myself a Quality Bench Jeweler.
Quality has a lot to do with experience. An experienced bench
jeweler has the hind site to do the job so that it will last. A
lasting repair job is one less come back and one more satisfied
customer. If I get a broken chain in for repair and the counter
help missed that the jump rings to the clasp are worn paper thin,
I replace the jump rings anyway. If I size a ring, I refinish it
to look as new as possible and make sure the prongs are tight
and not worn away. If the shank is to thin, I try to convince the
customer that it needs re-shanking. Finishing out the inside of
the ring after sizing is important. I make my own thicker silver
jump rings and replace the jump rings on almost every charm I
solder. When I make a custom ring, I make thicker shanks and
more secure settings. I am not mass producing hundreds of the
same piece so I concentrate on quality and workmanship instead of
how I can save a few bucks on each. Quality of workmanship also
includes educating the customer and helping them understand what
I am doing and why. I am fortunate that I work for a good man
that shares my values in quality.

Michael R. Mathews Sr. Victoria,Texas USA


#15

i sat at that bench for nearly 40 years watching the quality
manufactured goods slowly deminish…Watched while the jewelers
tried to convince the customer, the problem was their fault…Saw
when custom made changed its meaning to soldering a few head onto
a stock mounting…

Please don’t misunderstand me…I was a very good repairman, I
was not and am still not a creative jeweler…or artist craftsman
and a lot of you are.

The quality will continue to fall as long as the public is only
considerate of price. There will always be someone out there to
make it cheaper.

don v


#16

Hi Suzanne,

Boy, you’ve got quite a task!

How to define ‘quality’?

It really depends on where you’re coming from. The most basic
definition I ever heard of quality was: Any item or process that
meets all specifications.

The ‘all specifications’ part is the rub. Most jewelry items
(least of all the ones made by most of the list subscribers, mine
sure don’t) probably don’t have a hard and fast written set of
specs. Without a standard to hold an item to who can say what
’quality’ is?

All that said though, most of us have our own comfort zone as to
what constitutes ‘quality’. I’d suspect the biggest component of
a quality piece would be the workmanship with which it was
crafted. The fineness & weight of the materials would also enter
in to the equation as would the overall design.

Consider this; the same piece is made with the same
craftsmanship in lead, brass, silver, 10kt, 22kt gold & platinum.
Which is the quality piece? It probably depends a lot on your
frame of reference.

Assuming they’re all identical & meet the spec sheet, they’re
all quality. If you’re used to living in the jungle the lead may
look like quality. On the other hand, if you’re coming from 5th
Ave., only the 22kt or platinum may be quality.

It looks like there may be more than one definition, a legal one
(meeting specs) & several others based on the experiences of the
judge.

Good luck!

Dave


#17

G’day all; I’ll step in because I’m no angel. Doesn’t the word
’quality’ really need a qualifier? Like good…
poor…highest… etc? A good thought regarding quality was
that of an old friend, who told me that my jewellery would be
around much longer than I would be, and did I want people to look
at it from where they had dug it out of a bottom drawer, and say
’Who the hell perpetrated this rubbish? My jewellery is
something I have to be proud of - to be something people would
want eagerly to have. Quality then, lives in the mind of not
only the person who happens to hold the item at that time, but
anyone who would posses it at any time - as well as the maker.

I rather like the idea of the Maori with regard to what we call
greenstone, and they call pounamu and you call jade. Nobody ever
really owns it. It becomes a great treasure (taonga) and the immediate
possessor is merely the custodian who’s duty is to guard it and add to
it’s spiritual value before passing it on to the next custodian. It is
not to be put away out of sight, for then it cannot gather mana, but is
to be worn with great pride and pleasure. So if it is not of the
highest quality of which the maker is capable then it would not be worn
with pride and therefore contain no mana. It would not be taonga.
Cheers,

        /\
       / /
      / /      Johnb@ts.co.nz
     / /__|\
    (_______)  In sunny temperate Mapua NZ -

Autumn’s here…


#18

Thank you for this wonderful response. There are many of us
who work (and thrive) by creating outside the traditions and
standards of traditional “silversmithing” or “goldsmithing” and
its own set of rules and particular standards of quality. For
us, “precious” metals have no meaning, as all materials are
commodities, nothing more. In any art form, it seems to me, the
word “quality” can never be reduced to a series of technical
operations.

Two of my favorite writings that bear on this topic, are from
the great American sculptor, David Smith:

  1. “For how long does it take crudities to become beauties?”

  2. define technique

technique is what belongs to others

technique is what others call it when
you have become successful at it

technique as far as you are concerned
is the way others have done it

technique is nothing you can speak about
when you are doing it

it is the expectancy of impostors
	they do not show a
	respect for themselves
	or for what they are doing

I am certain we will have some diverse answers! Here’s mine…

Quality is always about personal integrity for me.

To express as honestly and directly as possible the emotions I
am feeling while designing and then fabricating a piece.

It is essential for me to wait for the client who knows this as
well.

Without this intuitive connection the communication I find
necessary to maintain “quality” is missing and my work will
reflect this situation.

I am not a production bench jeweler, don’t want to be. I have
great respect for bench jewelers who can deal with the vast
array of clients they must learn to please. And strive to
maintain artistic freshness and joy in their work. It is not my
way.

I used to think that certain functional techniques were
necessary for a piece to have “quality”… until I started
"seeing" through the eyes of other cultures and enjoying the
creative energy that comes through the mere assemblege of found
elements into jewelry by artists without any training but the joy
of creation.

The piece is EVERYTHING.

WOW, I love when I discover that kind of creative honesty and
directness.

When I create jewelry that my client wants to wear every day and
then to bed, I feel that I have succeded in embuing my work with
quality that has meaning for both of us.

I am excited to see what other views will be expressed on this
idea/l of quality! Salud to Orchid

All the best in all things,

Bill

Mystic Merchant -www. mysticmerchant.com …ICQ# 8835495 Original
Jewelry,Gems,Crystals-Contemporary, Metaphysical , Shamanic & New Age
Ethnography Bill Mason 10550 Fox Ridge Rd Semmes, Alabama 36575 USA…PH#
334-645-9081


#19

Suzanne, Ask a hundred different people and you’ll get the same
answer, “My goods are quality goods.” Ask each person to rate
the others quality and I’ll bet that they will say only 60% of
the others make quality goods. I think for each person their
perception of quality is a very personal thing, and is closely
related to what kind of product they have chosen to produce. For
instance, to someone that makes fabricated platinum and
D-flawless rings a 10k garnet ring will not be considered a
quality piece of jewelry. I would say that quality is not
dependent on the karat, type of stone or amount of metal in the
piece. What determines the quality of the piece is the
workmanship and design. You can have a lousy design, and perfect
execution and still have a piece of junk. Conversely, great
design, lousy execution - still a piece of junk. In many respects
it is more difficult to make a quality pair of 14k earrings that
retail for $50 than it is to make ones that sell for $200. I know
people that make both, and they make quality products. My opinion
is the person making the $50 earrings has the harder task to make
his product a quality piece. It’s tough to get a good finish on a
piece that is lightweight, no room for a heavy hand on the buff.
It’s also hard to attach posts in a secure manner, and design the
piece so it won’t bend easily. When done properly, you can have a
quality piece of $50 jewelry. To be sure there is more $50 junk
than there is $50 quality jewelry. The quality of earrings and
pendants is not so much dependant on the amount of metal as are
rings and bracelets. Rings must have a thick enough shank to hold
up to a fair amount of abuse. The prongs must be heavy enough to
hold the stone securely. Thin shanks, prongs, and channels are
never present in a quality ring. Bracelet links should be strong
enough to withstand a strong tug without breaking or distorting.
A 10dwt ring with a 3mm thick shank and heavy prongs is not
necessarily a quality ring. To be a quality piece it would have
to be free of visable porosity, finished well, have no pitted
solder, and be securely set. The overall weight of the ring does
not determine quality. You can take the same 10dwt ring and
remove 2dwt from the inside of the shoulders and still have a
quality ring, as long as there is enough metal to avoid crushing
or denting. Price point will determine how light or heavy to make
a given piece. I have a great deal of personal experience of what
quality means to one very large user of jewelry. One of the TV
shopping networks has a very strict and unforgiving QC
department. They will not tolerate any porosity, the prongs must
all be even and equal, the finish must be absolutely perfect, the
stones must all be the same color and clarity. Now the ring
itself can have an ultra thin shank, the filigree shoulders can
collapse if you drop it on the carpet, and the stones can pop out
if you tap them, but as long as the ring passes the esthetic
inspection, it’s considered a quality piece. I can’t possibly
stress how ridiculously stringent they are in QC. I was talking
about them with the VP of production of a very large manufacturer
that anyone in the business would know as a quality producer. I
remarked that they had a narrow window in QC, he said “More like
a peep hole, we won’t even talk to them anymore.” But if the
piece is not made to last, it’s a piece of junk. To be sure, if
it makes it past their QC, it IS a well made piece of junk
though. To be cliche’ed, quality is in the eye of the beholder.
Each of us knows it when we see it. I may be able to look at the
Walmart special $99 1ct diamond heart pendant, and see it as a
quality piece of jewelry. Before you stone me for heresy, let me
explain. Sure, the diamonds are frozen spit and the wire is the
guage of a whisker. But for what it is it can be a quality piece
of jewelry. Personally, I wouldn’t give them $25 for that
pendant. For millions of people, $99 is the most they can afford.
For that $99 they should get a piece of jewelry that will last
and look good. In the same case is a $99 diamond tennis bracelet,
not quality, not even close. It is set with the same frozen spit,
but it will break and likely be lost by the customer. Sorry to go
on so long. I’ll try and sum up what quality means to me. The
piece should be structurally sound, well finished, porosity
free, securely set, and hold up to daily wear. The quality of
stones and amount and karat of metal is determined by the price
point.

Brett Gober
Freedom Design and Contracting


#20

QUALITY - my updated version

A piece of quality work is creatively conceived,thoughtfully
designed, well made, and fulfills its intended function. Cindy

Cynthia Eid
http://www.silverhawk.com/crafts/eid
http://www.silverhawk.com/ex98/eid-c