Friday , August 1 2014
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Too good to be true

Too good to be true

It’s another day in paradise, and season is in full bloom and it is already Monday and I feel like I just passed myself leaving when I walked in the shop this morning! Ah, yes season on Marco Island.

Everything is moving at breakneck speed, the volume of work coming in is beyond overwhelming. It involves the simplest repair to the most complicated special orders to basic requests, the phone never stops ringing, and the best way to describe it is drinking from a fire hose.

That’s the way it is here in paradise, suck it up and deal with it most business owners will tell you that, for in a month or so it’s all over.

It’s like my 19th year in a row here on Marco and I am fortunate to have a fantastic clientele base which includes not only locals and snowbirds but international folks as well. So, quite honestly I keep pretty busy year round.

Most businesses on the island can hire extra help to accommodate the seasonal overload. I’m not that fortunate, qualified goldsmiths are simply next to extinct. That means my small band of brothers, meaning my son Andrew and a talented retired gentleman, Ron, who helps me part time during the season is all there is.

The new location at Island plaza has worked out beyond my wildest dreams. Watch battery replacement can be as many as 50-60 batteries a day and some days I can be but a blur going from jewelry bench to watch bench to engraving bench to “at a moment’s notice.”

I can only accomplish the most tedious and complicated work either before or after the shop is closed to the public, which has resulted in many hours of midnight oil being burned to get the work done in a timely fashion.

So, yes I can say in my line of work six months of going at that pace is not for the faint hearted and it will separate the amateurs from the pros. It easily becomes a bit stressful to say the least.

Imagine a store full of customers in the height of season and I’m whirling around the store like a mad hatter and now a couple insists on my undivided attention to assess the damage to a very valuable diamond ring that was recently purchased for a very large sum of money from some exotic jewelry store in the Caribbean, which I wish not to name here. The large center diamond is spinning in the setting. (Gee, kind of like me in the store.) I notice under close examination that not only is the center stone loose so is every other diamond in the ring. I can’t even tighten the center diamond because whoever set this rock in the setting was either having a really bad day or had no clue to the fine art of diamond setting.

I would like to help, I honestly would but these folks just dropped 30K of their hard earned money on a new ring that here in the states would cost only 10K and now their new ring needs $500+ worth of work and hours of my time to make it right, not exactly a savvy vacation bargain… and did I mention they want it done immediately?

I was also “informed” that the husband would have to accompany me in the shop and watch me perform the repair to insure I did not switch their diamond during the repair. Oh, really? What was I going to do, switch it with a better quality diamond because this diamond was a real piece of junk? I informed the couple that no one, but no one, goes behind my counter besides family and trusted employees. What makes you think I would allow a perfect stranger access to my shop full of customers’ jewelry? Interesting… now they tell me I was highly recommended. And they still don’t trust me?

It is best to plow around a stump than to plow into it so I suggested they take the ring to the store that sold them the deplorable ring in the first place and demand satisfaction. I simply don’t need the unnecessary aggravation. I’m burning myself out keeping my own customers satisfied.

It’s tough in season because most folks don’t like to wait for anything on the island, that includes jewelry repair. I hear it day after day “a whole week? But it’s a very simple thing. If I had the tools I could do it myself!” I’m sorry…March or August, the repair will still take a week. My Ken and Barbie instant easy-bake jewelry repair oven is on the blink.

My favorite is when I am asked “ When are you not so busy? I will bring it in then?” My answer is in the late summer… when I’m closed and de-compressing in Europe.

I’m proud of the fact that I have a solid reputation of doing quality work at a reasonable price. I admit the current price of gold and platinum has caused many an eyebrow to rise or jaw to drop. It is now a fact of life, and yes, it affects everything made from these precious shiny metals. Cheap price on jewelry means it’s cheap jewelry, it’s that simple.

Quality made jewelry is expensive but it lasts for generations. That is another fact of life.

About The Author

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or harborgoldsmith@comcast.net

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