Clint Eastwood once said, “A good man has to know his limitations.” I’m considered a good man—my mother and two ex-wives tell me so. I never attempt complicated electrical, plumbing or automotive–related projects; that way I won’t electrocute, drown or lose my brakes because I did so. What I do know is jewelry, diamonds, precious gemstones and being a practicing goldsmith/jeweler since before Nixon was president, I managed to learn a thing or two.
The bright yellow signage on the front of my humble showroom/workshop plainly reads, HARBOR GOLDSMITH, the keyword here is a goldsmith. Although admittingly, the word or should I say profession of being a goldsmith confuses more than just a few folks. A blacksmith works with iron, a leather smith with leather, so by now you probably know what I work with and what I do for a living; which is working with gold and other precious metals, creating, restoring and repairing fine jewelry, I’m going to put a lot of emphasis on the word FINE here.
By FINE, I mean I no longer deal with disposable jewelry which seems to be what 75% of the jewelry buying consumers is purchasing lately.
At this point and time of my long career (Nixon was president, do the math!), I change a lot of watch batteries, I also sell and replace watch straps, sometimes repair broken metal watch straps if I can save someone some money. I do few watch related services as a convenience for my customers; the reason I’m doing this now was mainly because I caught holy Hades 12 years ago from the islanders when I discontinued doing watch batteries because I was falling behind on what I really did for a living… being a goldsmith and making and repairing fine jewelry for nice sensible people… Wishful thinking!
So, if your watch needs more attention than a like a battery… well, I’m not your man. I will gladly recommend a highly qualified and skilled watchmaker a person who works on watches. Oddly enough, I never met a watchmaker who was also a goldsmith, I’m sure there may be some out there; I have yet to meet one. A talented watchmaker is who you can take the malfunctioning timepiece and eventually, in a matter of time and your money, it will hopefully begin telling time once again.
On the other hand, if you have some jewelry issues, I’m your man! This can involve hundreds even thousands of jewelry related projects from simple ring sizing to repairing a broken gold or silver neck chain, new prongs or a new setting for your diamond. The possibilities are endless! Yet what perplexes me is why this woman standing before me is demanding I repair her broken hearing aid? It immediately becomes obvious to me she’s not listening to me. How can she? Her hearing aid is in pieces on my showcase? Meanwhile, I’m talking to myself trying to explain I don’t know a darn thing about repairing a hearing aid! So, I wrote “NO CAN DO” on a piece of paper and handed it to her.
Over the years, people have brought in porcelain figurines, wood and metal furniture, both interior and exterior, lamps both table and floor models. A gentleman even wheeled in his brass plated floor lamp in a C.V.S. cart claiming was solid gold! Car parts, both electrical and mechanical—most memorable was a Roll Royce privacy curtain rod holder—moped and motorcycle parts. Numerous firearms—complete with bullets. Car key fobs, computer components—mouse included. Several broken garage door openers, a “Clapper” light switch, not to mention various garments, vests, men’s and ladies’ belts, hats and even shoes and belt buckles but my all-time favorite… a one-hundred-pound decapitated antique lawn statue of the Greek God Hermes!
Which incidentally, I was able to return his head to his proper location and make it right again with a little grey marine-text… it’s a long tear–drenched drama-full story involving a rake handle! I have repaired hundreds and I mean hundreds of eyeglass frames; the list goes on even today.
My question is… why in heavens name would these people bring these objects that in no way, shape or form pertains to what I do here?
It seemed for a while there it would be a novelty when a customer presented me with an article that’s actually a piece of gold jewelry that needs repair! What are they lost?
So yes, I admit it, alternative skills in this life may be limited but I know my way around a jeweler’s bench and many a person on this island will attest to that. So please, don’t come in lugging your broken garbage disposal and storm out cursing, huffing and puffing because I could not repair it for you.
Oh! I just remembered, there was once a kid’s malfunctioning antique pinball machine!
Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith and has been Marco’s go–to jeweler since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments. Contact him at 239–394–9275 or www.harborgoldsmith.com.