Rules for jewelers visiting jewelers

After yet another awkward experience with a “jeweler” coming in my
store let me offer a few basic rules if you are a jeweler visiting a

  1. If the jeweler is busy with customers do not engage them in
    discussions. If a customer walks in while you are there, let the
    jeweler talk to the customer instead. (A polite I’ll wait over here
    will do.) Customers ALWAYS take precedence over noncustomers.

  2. Do not assume that because you say you are in the trade that the
    jeweler will a) believe it or b) tell you their life story because
    you say so. Do not assume that because you take some classes, know
    some other “name” jewelers, or have taken classes with other
    jewelers that the jeweler will share trade with you.

  3. Do not EVER ask questions about pricing when a customer is in the
    store. Don’t ask costs. Don’t ask about markups. Do not make
    comments about pricing either. If no one is in the store it is okay
    to make some discreet inquiries about sourcing if the jeweler in
    fact knows who you are, but do not ask a jeweler to tell you what
    they paid for things versus what they are charging. If you want to
    know about markups read the Orchid archives.

  4. If it looks pretty obvious that the jeweler is working and needs
    to get back to the bench (i.e. dirty hands, dirty aprons, a pained
    expression in his/her eyes because they are stressed about getting
    jobs done), then say thank you and goodbye.

I am not saying that you should never visit a jeweler, but please
use some common sense. Call or email ahead. Ask if they have time to
spend with you or if there is some time when they can. At least this
way they have some time to check on whether or not you are really in
the trade and how much they might be willing to share
with you. If you don’t schedule ahead of time and they look the
least bit busy come some other time.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC


Thank you for the concise and accurate presentation. While I would
hope that all these items would be inherently obvious to a casual
observer (as my physics professors liked to say), sometimes you need
to state the obvious.

John Atwell Rasmussen, Ph.D.
Geologist and Gemologist
Rasmussen Gems and Jewelry


My opinion is that the person who needs to understand what you wrote
would not understand that it was their behavior that prompted your
post. The questions this person asked are not appropriate unless
there is some sort of history and/or relationship, and then it can
be taking a risk of crossing a boundary to ask business questions
that are that personal. I worked really hard to learn what I know and
that info is quite specific to what I do and how I do it, it might
not be good info for another persons business, and definitely not
info to share unless I knew the other person would not use the info
in such a way that would hurt my business.

I make it quite clear to employees that no about my
business is shared with anyone outside the business for any reason.
I have learned that if you want to know from someone,
make a statement about your experience and see how they respond. If
they share info, then you can ask a question. If they do not respond,
drop it.

Richard Hart G.G.
Jewelers Gallery
Denver, Co.

Ahh daniel, the true price of fame and fortune is there to pay when
the grooopies show up at your counter ! they always surprise you with
somthing dont they? your frustrations sound well warranted


I can’t agree more Daniel,

I get calls frequently from people that have found me somehow or
through students that presume I have the time to talk on the phone
for an hour or so about sources, contacts and suppliers in addition
to answering technical questions that are not appreciated or
offered.As a result of spending more time than i ever dreamed would
be spent with virtual strangers calls or dropping in, i now have an
open studio night once or twice a quarter for other jewelers and
students to come into the studio meet and discuss issues, business
and occasionally I have a manufacturer or supplier as a guest
speaker to introduce a product or conduct a mini-workshop on x topic.
That has cut down somewhat on my time being taken up from unsolicited
inquiries and provides a way for others to meet and interact-
Refreshments are always provided- but away from the equipment and
work areas! It has thus far turned out to be a success, and I can
then schedule a lesson, etc. with a person that wants to learn x
technique, alloy methods and recipes or use a piece of equipment
that they can’t afford - for a fee. I find it hard to get off the
phone politely with a stranger too…you would think that they would
hear one’s strained tone of voice and cut it short- unfortunately
that is not usually the case. I have had to install an answering
system to avoid this type of interruption in my day, which means I
have to take more time in the end to call paying customers back… I
wish every reader would heed your post as it speaks to a universally
encountered situation…I have built relationships with my
distributors and sources-I get paid to find them for others its
called consultancy! Because one is presumed to be in the trade,does
not mean one’s knowledge is free or offered to any stranger walking
into your storefront or studio…rer

Hi Daniel,

After yet another awkward experience with a "jeweler" coming in my
store let me offer a few basic rules if you are a jeweler visiting
a jeweler: 

Here is a reply from the other side of the counter. I’m a goldsmith
who does work for retail jewelers, so they are my customers. I
seldom go into retail stores and when I do it’s usually to talk to
them about doing their work. But occasionally I will want to check
out a store, it’s merchandise or the owner for some reason. When I
do just drop in I will always introduce myself, tell them where I’m
from and what I do and I’ll explain why I’m in their store…if they
are busy with customers I will leave. I don’t ever want them to
think I’m spying, because I’m not.

Sometimes the owner will want to talk and answer questions and
sometimes not, if they do I want them guide the conversation. Often
they are very happy to find someone with a different perspective on
issues and people that they deal with regularly. So we will
sometimes strike up a quick and easy relationship. I understand and
share the same problems and challenges they have, we are like two
passengers on the same sinking ship. But sometimes they don’t want
to talk, whether they are too busy or perhaps feel threatened in
some way I will never know. I try to never be pushy and never ask
questions that might be considered personal or proprietary (like
asking about vendors or pricing…).

Really it’s like visiting someones home, you need to be considerate.
They have to want to talk to you.


I get the feeling that a lot of retail jewelers never visit each
other. It can be a bit awkward. There are many who view any other
local jeweler as a rival and a threat. I don’t expect this
generalization applies to very many on this forum, but there is that
other kind that wants to hold cards pretty close to the vest pocket.

In any case, if anyone wants to visit my shop, you are more than
welcome. This weekend would be a good time since we are having an
open house for 25 years in business.

Where I live most jewelers have gone out of business in the 25 years
since I went into business for a net loss. From the 1980s the area
within about 30 miles of my shop have gone from 8 retail jewelers to
3. Two of the out-of-business jewelers were firms that were over 140
years old. None of the jewelers in this area today were in business
before 1984. The other two jewelers don’t speak to each other, but
they both are friends of mine.

I bought a watchmakers bench from another one of the out of business
jewelers about 15 years ago. In the conversation it became clear
that in the entire time he was in business he had never set foot in
the jewelry store across the street. But I hear of other small towns
where the jewelers are constantly backing each other up and swapping
materials and services.

I always make a point of visiting other jewelers when I travel. Most
of the time I identify myself. It is surprising how flustered some
jewelers get with this situation, so I get the idea that it does not
happen to them very often. But most others are very gracious and seem
to enjoy the chance to talk shop.

Stephen Walker