Okay, my feathers are a bit ruffled, and I feel a mild rant coming
on. I'll try to make it helpful. It's about sales people. I'm going
to give you a brief list of things I think all sales staff should be
aware of but apparantly are not. First, get David Gellers book, if
only to bring order to the process of taking in repairs. Here are
the things I see sales staff miss all the time.
1. Take out that loupe! You should note any chips or abrasions on
stones on the take in envelope. After the stone is nice and clean,
the customer might see the chip they didn't know was there and blame
you for it.
2. Note things like thin shanks, worn prongs, cracks, and any
noticeable damage to the article. Offer the customer the opportunity
to spend money with you by having you correct these things, if you
actually have access to bench people who can repair jewelry. How can
you assume the customer knows these are problems, and why would you
assume they don't want to pay to have them fixed?
3. If all the prongs on a head are worn out, why re-tip all of them?
Sell them a new head, it looks better, and it's more secure. If it's
a big stone, see if they'd like to upgrade to platinum. Tell them how
much that stone would cost to replace 20 years after they bought it.
If they only want one re-tip, and the others are ready to go, please
inform them that you can't be responsible for the loss of the stone.
One sheared white gold prong indicates they are all ready to fall
off, so test them. You don't want them to come back in a week with a
missing 1 carat diamond and say, "It was there for 30 years and then
one week after you worked on it it fell out!" Think the judge is
going to know enough about jewelry to side with you?
4. When someone insists on repairing a worn out chain that is going
to keep breaking, measure where the break is, as in "1 inch from the
spring ring" and note it on the take in envelope. When they come back
next week wanting it fixed again for free you can show them that it
broke somewhere other that where you repaired it, and maybe then
they'll pop for a new chain, but at least you won't inherit their
5. Think real hard before you take in "invisible set" jewelry. This
stuff is a nightmare. The cheap stuff is kludge-ware, with the cast
in place stones often held in by super-glue or just crud. Run, don't
walk, away from this stuff. Don't sonic, don't steam, or you'll be
doing the "jeweler's prayer" looking for a little .01 carat in the
6. Go to a little effort to describe the article. Don't just write,
"rope chain": write "3mm 14K yellow rope chain, 18" with lobster
clasp". I have personally seen major disaster over this issue. A
customer brought in a rope chain, the sales person wrote, "rope
chain", the customer claimed "that's not my chain, my chain was a 20"
5mm 2-tone rope chain and it cost me $300!". Wasn't my problem, I'm
the trade shop, I take notes, draw pictures, make measurements, and
I've maybe seen one 2-tone rope chain this year. I've learned to
avoid mix-ups the hard way. I gave them back the right chain.
Customer was mad as a wet hen. Customer was also completely wrong.
Again, not my problem.
7. Rhodium plated sterling is next to impossible to repair, unless
you have a powerfull enough laser or a pulse welder. It's also
sometimes difficult to recognize. Don't make promises. Tell them the
jeweler may not be able to work on it but you'd like to get the
jeweler's opinion. Same goes for anything cheap, as in 10K
tinsel-thin bracelets set with frozen spit and triple herringbone
chains. And any costume stuff. And don't put the herringbone chain
in the sonic, they unravel by themselves. These things are not going
to be healed unless you're real slick at the bench. Again, maybe it
can be fixed, but don't promise.
8. Get a diamond tester and a moisonite tester too. Think writing
"white stone" on the envelope is going to protect you? Nix to that.
As for colored stones, well, unless you are a gemologist, take your
best shot, or take measurements and discribe it as to color, shape,
and condition. If the customer claims it is such-and-such, write "as
per customer" after their claim. If it looks like it might be
expensive, take a picture and if it's real expensive looking, ask
them if they've got an appraisal on it. But for "white stones" test
them in front of the customer. If they are offended, simply explain,
"our jeweler requires us to test all diamonds to make sure. We
believe you, but he'll kill us if we ever have one slip by and
something goes wrong for him".
My bench helper was taking a little initiative one day, and came to
me with a stone he had just broken. It looked like a smallish diamond
to him, not expensive, but still about $125 worth (if it were real),
so he was feeling a little queasy. I took one look with a loupe, then
rummaged around in his tray for the chipped off piece. I put in on
the bench pad and put the torch to it in front of him. It melted
into a little ball immediately. I asked him, "do you think a diamond
can be melted with a torch?" He was greatly relieved. Diamonds don't
concoidally fracture. But then came the next problem. How to explain
to the customer that we had broken the stone, but, by the way, it
wasn't a diamond after all. We tried my favorite method, the truth.
Seems we were lucky. The customer said, "oh, sorry, that's OK, I
found it in the Laundromat, so I wasn't sure it was a diamond
anyway". The job envelope? It said, "set customer's diamond",
nothing more. The retailer then sold them a real diamond, and gave
them a good price too.
9. I could go on and on, and some day I just might, in book form
maybe, when I'm too old to actually fix this stuff anymore.
David L. Huffman
I've been saying these things for years to the stores where I have
worked! Then they say, "but it takes too long, the customer doesn't
want to wait, why should I put one repair in one envelope when
they've brought in 6 items, what does it matter?????? " Yikes! I've
talked to them about the potential nightmares, the chance to avoid
doing extra work for free, the pitfalls of dealing with unhappy
clients, but it falls on deaf ears many times. They want to make
every one happy, including the jerks who run in and throw the 5
tennis bracelets that they wear all together, all the time, over the
counter with the instructions to fix them, and then run before the
clerk can gather them up. Frozen spittle missing, hinges (or what
passes for a hinge) ready to tear out, links warped out of shape,
you name it. And all the customer wants is to spend next to nothing
to have the junk fixed, because he spent next to nothing on it to
begin with! I've seen things that were only a few thousands of an
inch thick to begin with----how do they make that stuff?
Thanks for putting the rant into such a clear and cohesive form.
I'm going to print it out and send it to a couple of places, just to
let them know that I'm not such a prima donna, or at least, there
are other pita bench people out there like me!
Melissa Veres, Engraver
I have been following this post for a while and have read some very
interesting things. I am a repair jeweler in somewhat of a small town
but it seems like the way I do things in our shop we get customers
from miles around. I deal with my customers 1 on 1 and I am willing
to come out of my cave and talk to them at any time and tell them
what needs to be done to their item. I myself have straightened
prongs and tightened stones and many other things that other jewelers
said they would have to leave for however long it takes, (week or so)
I have done them on the spot, and for free and I always tell them
that I cannot guarontee it without cleaning it and looking at it
futher and they are always very grateful and more willing to leave it
for futher reveiw. I work 1 day a week on the floor, selling or
calling customers with est, or whatever needs to be done. And it
seems that my customers love it, to be able to talk directly to the
repairman and know exactly what is going to be done to their piece as
well as what else needs to be done to it. It has boosted our sales
in repairs and sales in merchandise. I love to talk to people and
love to know that my customers are happy. I also tell our salespeople
little things to look for in case I am not able to come right out or
I call them myself with an est and details of what needs to be done.
Theres just something about hearing it from me than from the
salesteam. It maybe easier for me being from a smaller town, but when
you pull customers from miles around the effort seems to pay of very