Saturday, March 28, 2020

Be kind to your local goldsmith

Richard Alan

Richard Alan

The other day a woman entered my busy goldsmith shop and sat in the corner and seemed to be observing the interaction between my staff and my customers and of course… me. I got the impression she was a secret shopper or a spy sent by one of my competitors. Eventually we satisfied the crowd’s needs that were as simple as a watch battery replacement or as complicated as the removal of a wedding band from a swollen finger. When my staff and I cleared the showroom it was time for me to get back to the bench.

The mysterious woman in the corner approached me as I tried to escape to my workshop where I am lord and master, and asked if I was “Richard” and if I could give her a few minutes of my time.

She said I have been reading your columns for many years, which I found interesting, but you seem to come across a bit on the sarcastic side and I have always been afraid to come in here to use your services.

I laughed and mentioned to her that I noticed her in the corner “observing” the carnival atmosphere that sometimes occurs in a 500 square foot store. Sarcastic? Yeah you could say that, but I also have a sense of humor which I blame on an urban inner-city upbringing.

The lady was very sweet and commented that after a few minutes in the corner it soon became apparent we were a professional jewelry store and more than capable which made her comfortable about leaving her valuable ring to be altered to someone she only knew through reading his column.

I apologized for appearing like a jewelry ogre but that she didn’t know the half of what goes on around here in any given day, like “I need my ring repaired but I don’t want to remove it from my finger” I asked that customer how her tolerance to pain was because it requires a flame from my torch hotter than 2100 degrees farenheit? I politely refused to do such a ridiculous thing!

Or, “I would like my ring repaired, but I’m not going to leave it and I’m coming upstairs in your shop and watch every move you make!” Oh really? First of all you won’t have to leave it because I have no intention of doing it for you, second of all… Nobody but nobody enters my work shop unless I trust or like you and you don’t appear to possess either attribute. “Tom please show this gentleman the door!”

Just the other day someone wanted me to re-prong their diamond ring without leaving the diamond, Huh?

(That’s comparable to having your car tuned up without the engine under the hood.)

Yes, I hear much snickering from you paranoids out there and I understand it’s a matter of trust.

Integrity and trust… if a jeweler lacks these qualities he or she won’t be in business very long once the word gets out they are less than honorable.

And I understand with good reason some of you out there are hesitant to leave a valuable keepsake such as your diamonds and wonder if you are going to come back after the jeweler performs the repair or alteration and get back the same diamond or worse a fake.

Trust is a two way street, I have to protect my business with diamond detection equipment from despicable scam artists who try to pass off their cubic zirconia’s as real diamonds then claim I switched their stone.

Also accusing a trustworthy jeweler of being otherwise can be insulting to the jeweler, and they may decide you are never going to be convinced even if everything is on the up and up and refuse to do anything for you and avoid the hassle and B.S. of dealing with you.

That said, over the years I now know how to defuse the questionable trust and integrity thing by doing a “plotting” of the diamond.

Plotting is basically a map or detailed description of the diamond that involves accurate measuring of the gem in tenths of millimeters both diameter and depth, also all inclusions or flaws are duly noted in full detail. (I can also enlarge a photo of your diamond fifty times.)

There are numerous ways to re-identify your diamond after the service is provided.

I can sometimes do the work the same day if it’s a simple thing like a missing prong, provided the shop is not slammed with prior work. This puts many ‘doubting Thomases’ at ease.

Then there are those who are impossible to win over. More than once in forty years at the bench I had to convince the customer that the ring I sized, cleaned and polished is indeed theirs. “But it doesn’t look like my ring!”

Of course it doesn’t, it looks better, because before now it hadn’t been cleaned and polished since Eisenhower was president, I assure you it’s yours! Me, sarcastic?

One thing I learned about working and living on ‘the rock” for a number of years is there are more looney tuners per capita on this island than there are in all of S.W. Fla. And they occasionally navigate into my Front street location. (I think the building is built on a Calusa Indian burial ground that gives off weird vibes that attracts them, I don’t know?)

The door is open to the public so I am forced to deal with them along with the best loyal customers a jeweler could have.

So if I come across as a bit caustic, I apologize it’s probably from being in the “retail trenches” and then trying to concentrate on the workbench which can make you mad as a hatter. Rather than inflicting bodily harm I choose sarcasm. I still firmly believe the customer is usually right but not always and I have earned the right to decide when that is. To know me is to love me.

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the The Harbor Goldsmith’s and Richard’s Reef on Marco Island and welcomes your questions about all that glitters 239-394-9275.

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