Saturday, April 17, 2021


Call jewelry what you will. Is it merely a showy expensive bauble, a token of affection, or a sure way to get out of the doghouse?  I can assure you it is all of the above.

Call jewelry what you will. Is it merely a showy expensive bauble, a token of affection, or a sure way to get out of the doghouse? I can assure you it is all of the above.


Richard Alan

It’s no coincidence that 95% of my business is all about the ladies. I don’t count the guys, who bring in a hundred or so watches a week to replace dead batteries. Nine times out of ten I won’t see them again until the watch dies 365 days later.

Personally speaking, in my 40-plus years of experience selling jewelry, older generational men buying jewelry for personal wear is often a painful experience for yours truly. In the first place, they rarely know what they actually want, and then they can’t decide on what metal or gemstone. To top it off, they usually pick a style that was in vogue when Jimmy Carter was president, and then ask why I don’t have a large selection of men’s rings. Are you kidding me? I could have two hundred rings to choose from and it will never be the right ring!

It gets better. The newer and smarter generation of men, rarely buy anything to adorn themselves unless it is a glorified piece of string or rubber with a rock or a piece of wood hanging off of it. Heck, they don’t even wear a watch! And they don’t buy gifts for no reason, especially flowers or greeting cards. Let’s just say that the new millennial males lack what I still consider a basic baby boomer trait; it’s called sentimentality. I don’t see many in my shop, except when their newfangled wrist computers malfunction and they find that I am no help at all.

I mean no disrespect with the younger, smarter generation. I have two sons who apparently know everything. Wait, that’s not true…I do have issues.

Let’s get back to the main topic of thrilling her. Luckily, here on the island where some say irony came to die, the baby boomers outnumber the younger non-sentimental crowd. So business is good and I’m thankful for the guys who want to thrill their special someone for good reasons, or many times, no apparent reason whatsoever.

Call jewelry what you will. Is it merely a showy expensive bauble, a token of affection, or a sure way to get out of the doghouse? I can assure you it is all of the above. I see the excitement in all ladies’ eyes when admiring a beautiful diamond piece, and especially when they try it on. In many cases it comes down to, “I’ll have to ask my husband!” Normally, that is usually the kiss of death to any sale, but here on the island, more times than not the husband will at least come in and see for himself and contemplate purchasing the object of his wife’s desire.

It never fails to give me more than just personal satisfaction when one of my special handmade pieces sells. I’ll know in my heart that the woman wearing it will have a wonderful moment every time she puts it on, one that gets even better when she receives a nice compliment.

I have said time and time again that fine jewelry is not for everyone. When I met my wife Andrea, even before we were engaged, I pretty much tossed her “jewelry collection” into the waste bin. She wasn’t too upset for long when I replaced it with real diamonds, sapphires and tanzanites set in gold or platinum.

It’s true that nothing feels like real gold, or behold, the unmistakable beauty of a fine diamond or precious gemstone. You don’t have to be rich and famous to enjoy the real thing, although if your wife has exquisite taste it couldn’t hurt.

Something as simple as a sparkling, simple solid gold anklet or bracelet won’t break the bank, and will last ten times longer than the cheap gold plated versions.

When picking out a gift of jewelry, I stress that it should not only beautify, but also be practical for daily wear. Here in Southwest Florida, things tend to get a bit casual, so large flashy gold and behemoth bling pieces tend to be “So East Coast,” like the stuff folks wear in Miami, for example. Or as I say, jewelry-wise, “what works in Boca or Palm Springs won’t fly here!” I find a simple, single diamond drop pendant screams island classy.

Practical jewelry is home and alive here, and that includes anything with sea life or indigenous creatures, such as dolphins, manatees, turtles, and even pelicans. I create them in gold, silver and combinations of both metals. Add diamonds or precious stones and the ladies love them even better. Nothing says it all and thrills her like a simple gold and diamond palm tree pendant.

Remember gentlemen, contrary to public belief, when a lady says, “it’s not the gift but the thought that counts,” I beg to differ; what she really means is it’s the quality of the gift.

A question from cyber-space:

“What is more practical for my new engagement ring, platinum or white gold?”

A very good question.

Platinum is a more noble metal and is more expensive to purchase than gold. Don’t go by the metal markets, where platinum is priced lower per ounce. Today gold closed at $1238.40 and platinum closed at $1,004. Yet, a platinum mounting will be nearly twice or even three times the cost of a gold one. Why? Beats me, it has always been that way. I never in all my years saw platinum cost less than gold, but there you have it, almost every day on the market quotes. It is harder to work with and you must have great skill from a goldsmith’s standpoint, which will explain part of the cost. It is a bizarre metal that is not only heavier than gold, but requires high temperatures to melt and work it. Platinum wears like iron, but scratches easily. It is difficult to polish, but is soft and malleable, so the mounting and prongs should be substantial to avoid the ring bending and the prongs moving about. Platinum keeps it true white color even when dulled by wear and tear. Also, I highly suggest six prongs or bezel set for your diamond’s security.

White gold, on the other hand, is first of all, more affordable with more of a selection of choices. Most jewelers won’t have a large selection of platinum mountings on hand. There is no such thing as a “white gold mine,” 14kt. white gold is alloyed by goldsmiths with other metals to make it white. It is easier to work with, a harder metal and easy to polish out small scratches. The down side is it tends to lose its whiteness when worn over time, but new alloys have improved its whiteness, or a simple rhodium plating dip of the ring will bring it back to its original bright white color. I find 18kt. white gold to be too soft a metal for securing a valuable diamond, and that is only my opinion. Once again, I always suggest six prongs, or at least four very sturdy prongs, for security of your diamond. I hope this helps you make your decision.

~ R. Alan, Master Goldsmith.

Richard Alan is a designer goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith. He has been Marco’s “go to” jeweler for almost 25 years. He welcomes your questions and comments about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275, and visit

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