Shoot, now I don’t know what music I’m supposed to listen
This writing was triggered by a certain blue pendant lately, but
it’s not about it in any real way. First I’ll get two things out of
the way. This is a writing about relative quality and it’s assumed
that we all have standards beneath which we simply won’t go. It’s a
question of whether to go high or even higher, it’s not a question
of putting out substandard work.
Second, very, very important - this is not, not, not a writing about
idealism, it’s about having and running a jewelry business andmaking
a living by making and selling jewelry. Engrave this in your brains,
do not respond to this about how you imagine life might be in a
perfect world, because it’s not.
Let’s make a 1/2 round wedding band, shall we? Just an everyday band
with a domed top. I’m guessing that a good portion of readers are
saying, “Sure, I have low dome wire right over there”. So, you cut
off a piece, bend, solder, file the seam and polish. Nothing wrong
with that, people do it every day. There are several potential
issues with that depending on what you consider issues. One is that
the seam CAN be perfectly filed but it rarely is, the other is that
itlooks like wire bent into a circle and most of that stock wire has
little dimension - still, they are perfectly fine rings, even if
there’s usually aflat spot where it’s soldered.
So, we go to the rolling mill. Idon’t have 1/2 round rollers and I’m
not sure I’d use them much if I did. We roll out a piece of stock to
any dimension our heart desires, cut off a piece, bend and solder.
Then we file it flat and clean it up, and then we file the dome on
it. I talked about how to do that lately under filing, so I won’t do
it again. What we run into here is the resolution ofour files - I’d
start with a #0 file and go to #2 or maybe #4 depending onmy mood.
The #0 file can only define a line to a certain degree, and ditto
for every other file. You can only file SO precisely with a #0
because of the height of the teeth, even if you are good at it. So
you grade your files just like you grade sandpaper. Me, I’ll stop at
#4 and go to sandpaper, and I use an inside ring buff on the
outside, which works just fine. Then a good Tripoli will smooth it
Thing is, if weworked for Graff
-http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/ep80q7 that wouldn’t be good enough.
After we filed #4, we’d go to #6 and file the whole ring to the
resolution of the file. I’m saying we wouldn’t just remove scratches,
we’d refine all lines and curves to the level of #6. Man, that’s a
lot of work. Not only that but we’d measure with calipers all along
and if it’s supposed to me 4mm and somehow you fudged and got 3.9
somewhere you’d scrap it and start over. THAT’S quality. If you were
filing a prong on the sides and just caught the edge and put a tiny
nick you wouldn’t file it away, you’d remove the prong and do it
again. Every wire must be just exactly, precisely the same as every
other wire. Precisely.
The problem is that the Graff ring is a $2000 wedding band in a
world of $500 wedding bands - the guy with the skill to file like
that is pulling down some bucks and it’s a few hours work. And Graff
doesn’t do that, or rarely. This example applies to ring shanks and
all sorts of real work. How fine is fine?
Real world. Two months ago I had a one carat natural vivid pink (mid
5 figures). Two weeks ago I delivered a 1/2 carat solitaire with 1/4
ct. of melee set into a split shank to a nice young, not
wealthycouple. Today I finished an alter job for a fine guild store
up near Cartier and Boucheron and I also took in a $20 stone to be
mounted in a silver setting, for an old colleague/friend’s niece’s
13 year birthday next month. The notion that somehow all of those
pieces should be worked to the same level of quality (remember
statement #1, in the beginning) is what can decide whether you
succeed in business or not.
Every piece or work in the jewelry business is about money, whether
it’s high or low or thecustomer’s budget or what the market/venue
will bear. You can make Graff quality work if you have Graff
clientele, otherwise you’re going to have lots of inventory. Plus
they are setting million dollar stones. So, yes - bend silver wire
around and solder it for the flea market or show, roll it out if
it’s more custom, put eight hours into it if somebody’s paying for
that. But think about these things and maybe you’ll even make money.
John D. - Jo-Ann pointed out that I never sign things - modest I
guess except I just never had the habit. I’m going to try to