Wasted labor hours

No l…Re: your in progress book,
“Tdph&ofaota-iwfbMdS”…provide Orchid with a completed
publication, and you have my vote for the “Legion of Honor”…
multifaceted, inclusion free (heat tested), skillfuly polished
and (dirt -free) non repronged, highest 4-C’s DIAMOND lapel pin
to compliment your TTT (Top hat, Tux and Tails) work shop

You raise a very signifant bench problem that must cost the
industry millions of dollars per day in wasted labor intensive
hours. Who amongst the Orchidians, has the highest record of
time spent, flashlight in hand, searching for a floor residing
essential fabrication attachment??? It is always, a
frustrating experience with the heavy competeing thought of
starting over again or continueing the search! Finding the damn
piece…finally…is akin to the cessation of ‘labor pains’ and
the joyous squealing of newborn triplets!

May others continue the thread…and lighten the days ahead.

Paul Hartstein

Paul, While visiting another list member Terri Collier in Dallas
couple of months ago, I dropped some very small pearls onto a
carpeted floor. No problem says she. Terri took a nylon panty
hose leg, put it over the vacuum cleaner wand nozzle and turned
on the power, voila! the pearls, all safe and sound. Teresa

Well, and then there are those multifaceted, artifically
economic stabalized (rare) ojects of light refraction and
atificial inflation which never seem to reach the ground. The
trajectory seems logical and you spend even longer hours looking.
Giving the floor and the entire shop its twice a year cleaning
even though you have just finished this very process 2 months
ago. You must proceed,as the diamond was Great Grandmothers and
has a sentimental value (to the customer) equal to the national
debt of a third world country. To add to the problem the job is
due out tomorrow because they are getting married the next day,
having waited till the last minute to contact you for that one of
a kind, designed with their love in mind, absolutely perfect
wedding set, which they too will pass along to their future
progeny. Just when you have given up and decided that the jewelry
gods have once again claimed a sacrifice, having already said the
jewelers prayer an uncounted number of times (God let me find
this one and I will never ask for anything again) you see a faint
glint of light as you rise from the well known and now well
executed position of supplication. Can it be? Yes it is. The very
source of your frustation. Nestled safely, as if in an effort to
return to the solitude and safety of mother natures bosom from
which it was so rudely and unjustly ripped, in the hole of your
work bench provided for your ring mandrel ( which of course is
lying in the pan). Hiding there looking down at you, gloating
over the fact that it never reached the floor and in fact never
even left the bench. The moral is (assume nothing and look
everywhere for these objects do truly have a life of their own
and they do demand their due). A true story, with well, maybe
some exageration of time and value of stone but not of
frustration or location. Next story? Frank

BRAVO Frank Goss !!! That was a great story. I think that you
should have it illustrated and published. It would be a hot
seller at any show/event that jewelers attend. Encore…Maybe a
Steven King slant on the stone perspective. They are evil when
they try to escape. My final chant before I give up is. “Come on
you don’t really want to be sucked up into a vacuum and tossed in
with the refining scraps to be incinerated. Do you?” It usually

Thanks for sharing,

Dear Frank I have one of those but I’d bet everyone has who does
this kind of work …awhile ago I was working on a pair of
amethyst earrings and one of the MATCHED pair took flight
…Dark purple stone on a white floor no prob thinks I. I hunted
on and off for months ( I had given up and called my distributor
and got another stone that just about matched ) .In the meantime
I had moved and was setting up the studio ( from the no walls
up{ a nightmare story initself if you have never had the
pleasure } ) when as I was unpacking a box filled with bench
tools there was the stone…the kicker being that that box was
NOT in the room when the stone was lost. Take care and thanks for
the story Ron

Dear Terri: Thank you, thank you, thank you! The nylon
stocking over the vacuum cleaner nozzle yielded 2 amethysts,
a peridot and a very nice cz that disappeared at various
times into deep pile carpeting. I hate it just as much when
stones bounce off a work surface and disappear on to a hard
floor and you search and search and search…and they are
GONE! But heaven forbid you vacuum that floor …and
suddenly hear the telltale clack! as the machine ingests
what you couldn’t find. Then you have the option of sifting
through a pile of shop dirt to find your stone, or just
kissing it goodbye if it is of minimal value. So again, thanks
for the great suggestion! >D<

Reminds me of the time a customer came into the store with some
old mine cut diamonds she wanted set. My partner made up a ring
and had her come in to look at it before the stones were set.
When the woman tried on the ring my partner said to her: Whatever
you do don’t turn the ring over, the stones are just loose in
the settings. The FIRST thing the woman does is flip her hand
over. Two of the stones we found. The third we looked for all
over the store. We took off all our clothes to search for them,
made the customer go home and search hers. Spent hours and hours
looking for that stone. Never found it…until SEVEN years
later one of our cleaning kids was sweeping out under the safe
(in a completly different room) and there it was.

To Frank Goss: I am so pleased that there are among us the gifted
few who have a way with words. What better way is there to get a
smile (or a hoot) from reframing a frustration or a difficult
task? Thank You. Frances

Visit me or "beam me up" at:

G’day; one of the most frustrating sounds is that loud 'click’
followed by faint tinkles as a valuable item goes sproinngg and
bounces around the workshop, followed by loud and sometimes
obscene imprecations. Hands and knees crawling around on the
floor (usually dirty) only in my case I have to lie down as
artificial knees get too painful to kneel upon for more than a
few seconds. Then the same repeated with a powerful flashlight
swept across the floor at floor level. After fifteen minutes of
increasing bad temper, my wife wanders in. “Hallo, what are you
doing down there?” Bah! She bends and picks something up and
says, “Is this what you are looking for?” More ‘Bah!’ Failing
this out comes the vacuum cleaner, the bag carefully emptied, and
the floor and benches get their badly needed clean up. Out comes
the old gold pan, wash basin or hub cap, the contents of the bag
emptied into it, plenty of water added, and then the
time-honoured panning. And L0! nine times out of ten there’s the
missing item, rescued from the gem-knapping gremlins that lurk in
every workshop. And peace comes dropping slow, as the poet once
said. Cheers, –

        /\      John Burgess
       / /
      / /      Johnb@ts.co.nz    
     / /__|\
    (_______) Mapua NZ is a pleasant spot even in midwinter

Dee, The nylon stocking can just as well be drawn over any end of
any vacuum for searching on shop floors as well. Now about socks
in the dryer??? Teresa

When I first apprenticed the big joke was of course was on all
the apprentices. About once a month a new prank was delivered.
Probably the best I can remember is sending someone looking for
the diamond magnet. One of the fellows found an old dial guage
and hooked up a small chain to it. It was really a hoot watching
the new trainees (of course I never did it!) pull that guage with
the short chain around the shop floor until the laughter got so
loud the victem caught on. This was an item also known to be
Jewelers Exchange Building many years ago.

All the Best,

TR the Teacher & Student

And then there was the time I lost a $12,000 pear shaped
diamond… for a few days.

I was carving a wax model for a the wedding set into which this
stone was to be set. I always leave the stones on the wax bench,
if I’m gonna cast the model that day… Well, needless to say,
after I cast, and rough cleaned the casting, I went to get the
loose stone. Not there… slowly the level of anxiety begins to
rise… I go to the safe to see if maybe I stuck it in the stone
paper that contained the melee that was to go into the same
ring… the melee is there, but the big diamond is not.

Things start to get serious… I search the entire shop. Every
bench. Nothing. I get out the broom and sweep the entire shop.
Nothing. I get the jewelers’ most used tool, the flashlight, and
begin shining it under every bench… Nothing. I start thinking
about whether or not anyone else might have looked at it, or
moved it… I realize that no one has been in the shop all day.

Now the floor in that shop was made of wood, tongue and groove
2x6s. Since I was the one who built that building, and it was my
first, I was not yet accomplished enough to get every board to
fit perfectly. (And besides some of them were a bit warped
before I laid them, or had warped and separated a bit, from a
very wet year we had had.) There was a quarter inch gap, about
3/8 of an inch deep between most of the boards. They had filled
with debris over 23 years, and every time a stone fell on the
floor, I would think to myself, it’s time you finished this
floor and covered it properly… but I always found the missing
stone. (Excepting a few half pointers over the years!) Could
this stone, which was almost 2 carats, have fallen directly onto
one of these gaps and then been stepped on, burying it in the
dirt? I got out a chisel and scraped every crack between the
boards for ten feet around the wax bench… Nothing.

Real panic starts to set in! I noticed that there was crack that
went all the way through a couple of the boards way at the back,
underneath the bench. Never saw that before! Could it have made
it into that particular crack, and fallen through the floor onto
the dirt below? Murphys’ Law said it had to have.

Opened the access to get underneath the floor - 20 feet away,
and began to contort myself into what had had been an eighteen
inch crawl space… It was no longer 18". Over the years, we had
had a flood, and about 10 generations of gophers… There was
only about 10" in most places, some places less. I thought I
could see something sparkling just about right under where the
crack was, when I aimed the flashlight over there.

I go and get a skill saw, move the bench that has been on that
spot for 20 years, find some of the engraving block fittings
that have been missing for countless years - and begin cutting
out a section of the floor… While doing so, I hit a nail that
buggers up the saw blade. I go get another saw blade. I get the
hole cut, pry out the section, and look into the dirt below.
NOTHING! I am really getting panicked now! I sift through the
dirt, and find a chip of bright metal, probably platinum, 'cause
who knows how long it’s been down here, and it’s not tarnished.
Maybe that is what I saw from the crawl access?

By now it is 3:00 am. I go to bed. Can’t sleep. Thinking of how
long it will take to refinance my house, or get a second
mortgage to pay for this diamond…

In the morning I go over the whole shop again. I sweep again. I
cover every square inch of the floor with the flashlight and the
chisel… Nothing. I sift through the dirt under the floor
again… Nothing.

It’s noon now, and the ring is promised for tomorrow. How am I
gonna tell the client I lost a $12,000 stone? Should I start
calling banks and mortgage companies?

My girlfriend walks in as I am sitting on the floor in front of
the excavation I have made in the floor. She asks what I’m
doing. I tell her that I suddenly got an urge to put a basement
under the shop. Then I explain what has happened.

She offers to help, and begins looking around the shop, starting
with the wax bench. I am still sitting on floor… wondering why
God has done this to me. Or whether it’s a karma thing. Or
whether this all might be a bad dream. I pinch myself. It’s not
a dream.

She walks back over to where I am sitting, and asks me if the
stone in her hand is the one I have been looking for. It is.

It was in the tray in front of my ultrasonic cleaner and
steamer. I never looked there.

I always leave the stones on the wax bench if I am going to cast
that day…

A friend of mine showed me a neat trick. Whenever she handles a
small loose stone she seals its top onto a little wax sprue made
of colored wax mixed with just a little sticky wax. This turns a
2mm diamond into a 2x10 mm piece of colored wax with a stone on
the end. Sure she drops stones, but it is usually when she is
picking them up with tweezers before she puts the wax on them. Geo

Ok, good story $12,000 diamond and all. Reminds me of this one. In
the 1980’s right before the big oil crash things were really
booming down here in good old Houston Texas. Money flowed like
water or oil and everyone was as happy as two pigs in a slop. I
was working for a local metals liquadator who had jewelry work as
a by product of scrapping precious metals. (I picked some real
treasures out of the scrap buckets in the three years I worked
there) but that is another story. anyway a diamond dealer was
officing in the back as it was a very secure location. Steel
doors, alarms, guns, etc. I was working on a job(of dubious
design) for the diamond dealer, a large 2.5ct round diamond set
with 10pt rounds circling it in a Rolex style ring (YUK!! could
anything be as tasteless or as ugly??) but remember this is
Houston, Texas and it is the eightys and I would do almost
anything if the price was right. I had finished the ring, had all
the stones set. The large stone set in a bezel the 8 or 10
smaller stones flat set around it. All ploished to red rouge. I
walk over to the steamer, take the ring out of the ultrasonic
with the tweezers, and proceed to give it a good steam. The
steamer is located next to a sink, which is a very odd affair.
The sink is set in a steel cabinet that also contains a small
refrigerator and stove top, a refugee from some past existance in
a efficiency apartment no doubt, attached to the wall with pvc
water pipes. As I am steaming the ring it pops out of the
tweezers and hits the floor to roll under the sink,
refrigerator,stove combo. No problem, I get down on my knees to
retrieve the ring from under the sink and low and behold no ring,
but I do find a rather sinister looking, open to the air, grate
lying beside it, what the HELL is this doing in a jewelry
shop!!! floor drain. Thinking to myself that no one in their
right mind would have an open floor drain in a jewelry shop I bet
it is just an old drain that is sealed off. I go and ask the
owner " where does the floor drain in the shop lead to?" with a
nervous quake in my voice, just beginning to quaver with
anxiety. “Oh, to the city main as far as I know” now real panic
has set in. I race back into the shop with visions of large men
with broken noses and more vowels than consonants in their last
names coming to collect a large sum of money that never was and
never will grace my bank account. With these visions in my head (
I have always overreacted in a crisis situation)I grab the afore
mentioned sink,refrigerator, stove combo and proceed to rip it
loose from what I am sure was intended to be permanent plumbing
attachments. Welcome to Niagra falls ladies and gentlemen, please
be sure your life jackets are securely attached to your persons
as we are about to enter the very edge of the falls and will be
shipping a rather large volume of water. The water is of course
headed for the floor drain to sweep the already missing and
surely aquatic bauble to the bay which is only 50 miles away. I
make a dive for the drain, arm first, not head ( I’m not totally
suicidal Yet) and slam the afore mentioned appendage as far down
the drain as it will possibly go to feel NOTHING! I did however
receive a rather colorful circular bruise around my right bicep
that reminds me of the now fashionable tatoos one sees on the
younger generation. (maybe I’ll get one, I kind of liked the
design idea). Anyway no ring, no bottom, no life for the next 20
years while I pay back the cost of the ring, but wait what if I
use those really long tweezers that don’t hold worth a darn when
steaming a valuable piece of jewelry. The ring disappeared from
the tweezers maybe it will reappear if I put them in the drain
and stir things up a bit (desperate times bring about the wish
for majic). I proceed with the cursed tweezers in the drain and
wonder of wonders I hit bottom. Now if the deluge of Niagra has
not been to fierce ( the water has been turned off by this time)
and washed my wayward friend out to sea I may yet have a chance
at that new car and house and retirement fund after all. I fished
for about ten minutes and the jewelry gods decided I had suffered
enough. I latched on to something and retrieved it from the
clutches of the Waste water devision of the city of Houston. My
beautiful 14kt diamond Rolex ring (did mortal man ever create
such a beautiful sight) was once again residing in the tweezers
where it belonged. BIG SIGH OF RELIEF!!! Needless to say I
always check for open floor drains now, or any floor drains of
any kind for that matter. There are after all levels below the
floor. True story from 25 years of the ride. Frank

Dear Frank Goss that is a truly great story and well told.

I think many jewellers must have a similar horror story. My one
is about coming home from the gem merchant with a natural emerald
in a small packet in my shirt pocket. I get changed into my
working clothes and leave my shirt on the bed for a moment while
I go to the john. My eager spouse, having just started a wash,
sees my shirt and whisks it into the washing machine…

Frank, you were lucky to get your diamond ring. Somewhere in 25
kilometres of sewerage pipe between my house and a sewerage
treatment plant near Bondi Beach, Sydney, Australia, there is a
2.40ct natural emerald. It makes you wonder what else could be
down there, doesn’t it?

Thanks for an entertainingly told yarn,
kind regards, Rex from Oz

These stories are great - My first job - many years ago -
whenever a diamond was lost - the whole shop came to a halt to
join in the search. Invariably, Amy would find the stone. Amy
was a quiet woman who kept to herself - and she had a sixth sense
about finding stones. I can still see the smile on her face.
Recently, when visiting my mentor (owner of the shop) - who is
now retired - I found him searching. Of course, I joined the
search - the classic flashlight in hand and carefully sweeping
the floor - wondering where was Amy? I can’t even remember where
that stone was found - but, am working on developing the sixth
sense approach - for me, genuinely “giving up” helps. Last holiday
season - in sleep deprivation state - was searching everywhere
for an earring (ultrasonic cleaner is always a good hiding
place). After “giving up” the search - I spotted it on my ear -
had forgotten that I had tried it on for the non-pierced comfort
test! It passed the test. Cynthia (Catching up on hundreds of

rex - look at it this way, your 2.40 natural emerald sacrifce to
the ‘sidney sewer gods’ might well have saved you from fates
more horrific than can be imagined. the nagging question is: how
does one go about describing such a loss to the inland tax
office, or irs, or whatever??? ive

I have a story about lost earrings that could happen to anyone.
I had a very beautiful pair of pearl earrings. Over the years
they had become part of my anatomy. I wore them everyday. One
day they were missing. The day became a year and I was sad to
say they seemed lost forever. Then one evening, I was listening
to an interview of Anais Nin. It was charming and wonderful. She
talked about how little we use our subconscious to solve
problems. Well fortunately this came to my ears just before I
went to sleep. Low and behold, I had a dream. The next morning
I went to my closet and pulled out a pretty little vintage
handbag. My earrings were nestled safely in the side pocket just
as they were in the dream. Good luck to those of you with lost
"fortunes". Dream a little it helps. If this helps anyone I
would love to know about.

Victoria’s story reminds me of one of my own. A simple silver
ring. Got it in Mexico, and even that involves a story. I was
in a store, looking at various items, and ended up buying a
"Mexican onyx" chess set, which he carefully wrapped up in
newspaper, each piece separately. Afterward, I remembered this
interesting ring laying on the counter, but I had been too intent
on the chess set to really do more than just notice it. And, I
thought to myself, “That was a nice ring!” and sort of kicking
myself for not buying it, or at least investigating further.
When I got home, as I was unwrapping the chess set – the ring
tumbled out! I’ve never known whether he wrapped it in there
intentionally, or accidentally, but a friend told me that they
often do stick something like that in. and I think it was
"predestined" to be mine. The ring was a little big, but still I
wore it constantly. One day I was off backpacking in Aravaipa
Canyon in Arizona. (Lovely place!) And one morning as I was
fixing breakfast and packing up my gear; I saw that it was
missing!! Looked all around, but could find no ring. And I
could’ve lost it sometime the day before and just not have
noticed it. I went sorrowfully home. A day or two passed. Then,
this “thought” suddenly popped into my mind; “look in your
sleeping bag!” I ran in and grabbed the bag, pulled it out of the
stuff sack, and ook. — And out fell the ring!! Yes, your
subconscious does sometimes work! And the “powers” really meant
that ring to be mine!