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Reliable, honest jewelers wherever

Hi Orchidians;

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.

  1. 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'm going to give you a brief list of things I think all sales
staff should be aware of but apparantly are not. 

Thank you, David. This is the best “take-in” list I’ve seen. I have
filed it in my archives and printed it out for those responsible for
take-ins. I really do think you should write a book, but don’t wait
until you’re retired–we may be too, by then.

Del Pearson

Hello David,

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

it’s because they aren’t paying you enough!! things are too easy for
the people you work for and they dont care. i said all the same stuff
to my old boss. do what i did secretly set up your own shop over a
period of months (keep your mouth shut) then then write them a polite
letter telling them how nice it was to be part of the team but you
are off to pursue other endeavors, goodbye, and and let them find out
you have your own shop and charge them triple when they come asking
for help - try to see the value in yourself and have confidence and
dont be fearfull and make sound decisions you will do fine - goo

   do what i did secretly set up your own shop over a period of
months (keep your mouth shut) then then write them a polite letter
telling them how nice it was to be part of the team but you are off
to pursue other endeavors, 

Hi Gustave;

That’s what I’ve already done, but now, as a trade shop, I’ve got a
dozen retailers to deal with. Some of them know what they are doing,
some are trying to learn, and some don’t seem to care. But here I go
again with more suggestions:

  1. Please print clear and concise directions on the repair
    envelope. If you really are in such a hurry, what makes you think
    you’ll have time when I call you up and keep you on the phone until
    you can explain to me what it is you really need done? And then, if
    we get it wrong because you didn’t get it right with the customer,
    we’re all going to lose time doing it over, except I’m going to get
    paid if you screwed up and you’re probably not.

  2. Suppose you take in ring for sizing. You’re not sure if the
    prongs are too far gone, the shank too thin, etc. Try this approach
    with the customer, “there’s some wear on this ring, the prongs may
    need work, the shank is a bit thin, etc., would you like our jeweler
    to give you a run-down on anything that needs attention here? We can
    call you, and, of course, it’s entirely up to you how much you want
    to put into restoring the piece”. If they say “no, just size it”,
    you still should discribe whatever obvious problems you see, and if
    you’re worried, take a picture of it after they leave. Usually,
    customer’s are pretty tickled when it comes back clean and shiney,
    but every once in a while, there’s a customer who will scrutinize it
    closely and suddenly “remember” that the shank wasn’t that thin or
    whatever. They won’t do that if it’s been suggested to them that the
    ring might need further work.

  3. Le me reiterate, you can’t make a silk purse, etc. With cheap,
    poorly made jewelry, just don’t promise it’s going to come out
    perfect. Tell them, “we’ll be glad to take a look and if there’s a
    reason the jeweler can’t work with it, we’ll give you a call, but
    thank you for coming in to OUR store for your repairs” (yeah, even if
    you’d really rather they took their crap to your competitor, don’t
    make people feel bad for making bad choices about jewelry, it’s not a
    life and death issue).

David L. Huffman

d- you are preachin to the choir, amen brother! you need to start
shifting over to retail slowly unless its somting you really dont
want to do. and when retail income is at 80%, thats what my CPA says,
you can tell your wholsale people to pay alot more or go elsewhere.
as for the info on take in i charge for phone calls! if they are to
busy to write stuff down then they can afford 5 bucks of my time to
drag it out of them. i also worked w/them ie i developed a custom
order sheet designed to be idiot proof so all the info can be present
in the same spot every time. this can be done as a ''Repair
Evaluation Form" which is different than a repair envelope. if these
people are that careless you shouldnt have any problems coaxing
business to your own door listen i know how hard i work and how much
love it takes to make a good crafts man/woman it makes me disgusted
to see people making money off someones back. but to balance this in
MY particular case and situation i had no one to blame but myself. i
was lucid enough to see where things were going wrong and being so i
placed my self in a situation where i had some control over the day
to day problems and therefore i can now take remedial steps on a
regular basis (empowerment) best regards, drive on, goo

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

Ron Helton,