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Retail Stores - Integrity in the Jewelry Industry


#1

Dear Friends, during my life I have worked with various retail
jewelry businesses, from the small local store to the national
chain. This work has been as part of the business itself or as
contracted trade services. I have seen various levels of
"integrity" in these situations. Affected are customers and
employees alike. For the largest part, integrity has not been a
question and is considered the “backbone” of the industry. In a few
cases, greed has apparently gotten in the way of complete honesty
with others.

I am not here to slam any part of the industry. I respect the
jewelry industry and am personally deeply seated in heart, desire
and love of this business.

Does anyone have something to share regarding “integrity” in the
retail section of the industry? Does anyone have any suggestions for
improving any defects you might have encountered?

Thanks for any replies. If you would rather not reply, I certainly
can understand that. Perhaps this topic is too deeply seated to
discuss. Thanks.

Thomas. @Sp.T


#2

Thomas… JA (Jeweler’s of America) have developed a written standard
of ethics which may be a partial answer to the question you raise.
However, I don’t have a copy of it, Does any one of our Orchidians
have a copy?

Frif,


#3
    Does anyone have something to share regarding "integrity" in
the retail section of the industry? 

In my previous life as a bench jeweler in the mall in a town north of
here, I was witness to the routine up-grading of diamonds, deliberate
mis-representation of stones, and outright fraudulent appraisals.
They never took a stone in on memo that they couldn’t grade up. (after
all, it’s just an opinion, right?) I had the manager represent an
opal doublet to me (an opal cutter) as a true black. I also overheard
many conversations with their pet “appraiser” as to how much a piece
needed to appraise for. (My bench was right there) Needless to say,
our ways parted before long. On the day I started, one of the
partners took me aside and said - “we don’t give a damn about jewelry,
What we care about is the bottom line” I should have walked right
then, but I needed the job.

Does anyone have any suggestions for improving any defects you might
have encountered? 

When I took my complaints to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, They
just wrote me off as a disgruntled employee. Never did any
investigation as far as I know. This outfit is still in business.
Small independent cheats are apparently tolerated.

    Thanks for any replies. If you would rather not reply, I
certainly can understand that. Perhaps this topic is too deeply
seated to discuss. 

We all need to do what we can to keep the business honest.

Mark Thomas Ruby
SunSpirit Designs
Loveland, CO
970 622-9500 studio
970 622-9510 fax


#4

Dear Mark, I posted the original question because of some lack of
integrity or basic honesty. Most jewelers I know are dead set on
maintaining everything on the up and up, honest, forthright and
fair. To me, this is the essence of a business in which the
customer must feel trust and be comfortable with the jeweler.

I really don’t know how to root out the over greedy one who let
greed get ahead of sound business practice. I tried to tell a
former company president that “he was not selling in a motel, moving
out the next day!.” That business is now in trouble. The business
is apparently failing. This comes not from any legal action from
customers but more from the “greed” and arrogance that can create.
Beleive me, no business is “above the customer” and the customer can
pick up on that. Sloppy appraisal work, inflated prices when it
looks like the customer can pay it…such things have lost customers
for this particular business and the management does not see it.

What goes around comes around is a fit reward for this particular
business, once a leader in their region.

I am not there. I cannot work in any situation where my integrity is
put on the line by association. Again, this is a relatively small
outfit, likely too small for intervention by JVC or others. The AGS
on might act some violations there but I doubt the proof would
exist. Greed has a way of hiding its tracts in lost customers.

When a new customer insists they watch me set their diamond, saying
they won’t let it out of sight, well, I send them on the way. They
must trust me and I have worked over 25 years in the business
establishing professsionalism in bench work and in trustworthiness.
I will not let a single business attach me to their pitiful
practices.

Interesting note: When friends have ask about appraisal services, I
have referred them elsewhere. Bold but needed for them to get what
they are paying for.

I appreciate the comments.
Thomas.
@Sp.T


#5
        Does anyone have something to share regarding "integrity"
in the retail section of the industry? 

Hi all; I’ve been fortunate in that the majority of the people I’ve
worked for have been scrupulously honest regarding the products they
were selling. There were other types of dishonesty that customer’s
were exposed to, but these were usually along the lines of white lies
concerning why a repair wasn’t done on time (materials were
backordered, etc.). This didn’t seem to present a “slippery slope"
either, the dishonesties remained pretty innocent, and I’ll admit, I
sometimes was a party to these methods of “molifying” customers. I
didn’t always point out to a customer that one of the single cut, one
point diamonds from their worn out old mounting got crunched during
setting and I had to replace it with another one. Sometimes
misrepresentations of products are due to ignorance and aren’t an
attempt to decieve. I don’t think this excuses them completely, as I
believe it’s the responsibility of the merchant to know the truth
about what they are selling, but mistakes do happen. An honest
business person is eager to make things right. I think some
companies actually prefer ignorant sales staff, as an informed
salesperson wouldn’t be able, in good concience, to sell some of the
crap they pawn off on customers. I still come away with the opinion
that our industry is, for the most part, doing business with more
integrity than the public suspects. Now wether some of them are
charging exhorbitant prices is another issue. There were a couple
"colorful characters” I did have the misfortune of working for (they
bought the business I worked for). I wouldn’t have put anything past
these guys, and believe it or not, they are still in business. I
really don’t know why they are not in jail. I swore working for them
would be my last jewelry job, but I fell off the wagon and took yet
another job in the trade. And the last people I worked for had
integrity which they deserve to be proud of. I left that job for my
own reasons. I prefer to be scrupulously honest, because I demand
to be able to do business that way. Now I’ll tell them about that
single cut and if they get bent about it. . . . I’m truly sorry, but
it happens. If I weren’t as good as I am at what I do, I’d have to
be perfect and therefore, I wouldn’t be able to admit to making
mistakes.

    Does anyone have any suggestions for improving any defects you
might have encountered? 

The good ones need to be acknowleged, even if they are our
competition. The bad ones need to be prosecuted, even if it means
our job. There is a lot of legislation in our trade, but I don’t
think we need to single the industry out for more extensive policing.
But then again, that depends on who you count as “one of us”. I’m
much more suspicous of the internet component and the televised sales
venues. And when you get below a certain quality and it’s respective
price points, caveat emptor is the rule of the day. In other words,
what do you expect for a one carat total weight tennis bracelet for
$200?

    When I took my complaints to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee,
They just wrote me off as a disgruntled employee. Never did any
investigation as far as I know. This outfit is still in business.
Small independent cheats are apparently tolerated. 

Perhaps the JVC isn’t the last resort. In many cases, the State’s
Attorney General is interested in these things.

        Thanks for any replies. If you would rather not reply, I
certainly can understand that. Perhaps this topic is too deeply
seated to discuss. 

Not for this grizzly old bench gladiator. I love to turn over rocks
and see what crawls out. :slight_smile: Seriously, secrecy is how things like
this continue.

    We all need to do what we can to keep the business honest. 

Agreed. Let’s keep an open mind as to how we all can do a better
job of it in terms of our own honesty. Just in case we’ve missed
something, that is. . .

David L. Huffman


#6
    I was witness to the routine up-grading of diamonds,
deliberate mis-representation of stones, and outright fraudulent
appraisals. They never took a stone in on memo that they couldn't
grade up. (after all, it's just an opinion, right?) I had the
manager represent an opal doublet to me (an opal cutter) as a true
black. I also overheard many conversations with their pet
"appraiser" as to how much a piece needed to appraise for. (My
bench was right there) Needless to say, our ways parted before
long. On the day I started, one of the partners took me aside and
said - "we don't give a damn about jewelry, What we care about is
the bottom line" I should have walked right then, but I needed the
job. 

What a horrible story, I’m going to have nightmares. Thats fraud!
Don’t you guys have the fbi or the cia for stuff like that? I
personally would have tried to contact authoroties and nail them
with audi/video!

Jon


#7
And when you get below a certain quality and it's respective price
points, caveat emptor is the rule of the day.  In other words,
what do you expect for a one carat total weight tennis bracelet
for $200?

Gosh, that statement brings back memories! When I sold ‘fine
jewelry’ in a department store, we had a lot of those low end, small
& cloudly diamond tennis bracelets in stock! And plenty of customers
wanted 'em…or the big pave-set rings…hideous, melee crap that
wasn’t worth the money they paid for it. What I loved about that job
though, was the customers who were open to education, willing to
learn why those bracelets were crap and that even the $500 bracelets
were a better purchase…or why this particular ring was $2000 and
the other was $1200. Those were the fun folks…who actually got
some better quality merchandise when they did pony up. I don’t miss
retail hours, but I miss that job a lot. I sold several small to
mid-sized engagement rings to young couples…even went to one of
their weddings. I had a bit of a niche clientele with young adults
who were so happy that I took the time to show them the items and
educate them–they always told me that most salespeople wrote them
off because they were young (early to mid-twenties), but many of them
would come back and purchase from me later…I was in my mid-twenties
myself when I held that job, so I could relate to them pretty well
LOL And as for the customers who insisted on that $199 diamond tennis
bracelet…well, I’d do my best to educate them too, but if they
really wanted to plonk down $200 for junk, there was only so much I
could do to dissuade them. :slight_smile: Of all the jobs I’ve held, that one
was the most fun by far. Thanks
David, for that little trip down memory lane! Jill in Atlanta


#8
When I took my complaints to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee,
They just wrote me off as a disgruntled employee. Never did any
investigation as far as I know. 

Mark, I have had no real dealings with the JVC, but I know some who
have tried to get them involved in what they see as problems, and it
has always turned out just like your situation did. A dead end.

If I understand correctly, the JVC was created by the industry as a
device to stop , or at least slow, more government intervention in
trade regulation. A self governing organization that works for the
trade. All I really have seen from them is a lot of advertising
about how wonderful they and their supporters are, with an
occasional someone investigation of some illegal or immoral
activities to look like they actually do something.

This is just my opinion formed from what I have heard from friends
in the trade, as well as what I read in the trade magazines.

Daniel Hamilton