The thing that really seems to frost them is when they bring
something in for repair and are told that it is just not worth it.
Apparently some jewelers are just a wee bit too blunt in their
honesty or perhaps too transparent in their snobbery when it comes
to fixing objects of little retail worth.
Early in my jewelry career, I told a lady that the tiny 10K chain
she had brought in was not worth repairing. Tears started welling up
in her eyes, and I could tell that I had just crossed some kind of
line. I asked her to tell me about the chain.
She said that her son had given it to her last Mother’s Day. He was
ten years old at the time, and had saved up for weeks to purchase
this special gift for his Mom. The reason she was tearing up, she
explained, was that he had been killed in a car wreck last week only
a few months after he had given it to her. She had really hoped to be
able to keep the chain intact as a keepsake of her lost son, even
though she knew it was extremely fragile and had very little monetary
Needless to say, I took it in the shop and soldered it for her while
she waited, having just learned the most valuable lesson I would ever
learn about the difference between intrinsic value and sentimental
As a result, we have a major rule here – Never, EVER assume you
know the value of something, especially if it’s worthless! Every
piece of jewelry that comes through our door has a story. If
something is valuable enough for someone to take the time to bring it
in to us, it is valuable enough for us to take the time to find out
what the story is behind it. Once you know the story and have
ascertained the true value to the customer, you can give good advice.
Ignore sentimental value at your own risk. It can be far greater
than intrinsic value, and quite often can justify a repair expense
far above what a new replacement piece would cost. If you are
perceived as insulting someone’s cherished 10K 0.75mm serpentine
chain, you will be perceived as insulting them personally - on
several different levels. They will remember that, and will go out of
their way to make sure that everyone they know does too.