Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of the Harbor Goldsmith, Marco’s go-to jeweler since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments about All That Glitters.

If you think the so-called reality shows on the boob tube are real, I have a diamond mine in the Ten Thousand Islands I’d like you to invest in with me. Where is reality, I need to know? Apparently, some folks manufacture their own.

Season began and things were going pretty nicely even after getting a four-year-old regurgitated negative review from an “all about me” kind of person. And then, just as I predicted in my last column, another pair of needy emotional train wrecks just took her place in the “it’s all about me line”. I hate using the “Karen” terminology because the island is teeming with them like ants on a snicker bar and I’m totally outnumbered.   

My latest negative review claims…  “We made an appointment on a Saturday to come in Monday to have our watches “looked at.” When we arrived, we were told they were too busy and because we were not spending enough money were then given the bum’s rush out the door and the staff was rude with bad attitudes.

I love this one; first and foremost I’m a goldsmith not a watch guy (watchmaker). Sorry, I don’t repair broken watches - all the good watchmakers are retired or deceased and that is in fact. In reality, I don’t like sending things out of the shop, and that is where the watches would have to go; they would have to be shipped out of state, be insured both ways and today it costs a fortune to repair even a cheap watch, let alone a Rolex where you would need to take out a second mortgage on your home to pay for it. It was a money loser for me, so I don’t accept them anymore…period! Second of all, no one but no one on my staff would book an appointment for me to “look at some watches” or anything, for that matter, on a Monday. They know they would not escape my wrath if they did.

My shop on a Monday is generally a carnival. It’s extremely busy with all kinds of jewelry related sales, incoming repairs, ringing phones and yes… a deluge of people holding their watches like a wounded sparrows that if not broken require batteries, straps etc. (I swear the Far East manufacturers of batteries have a satellite (balloon?) hovering over Southwest Florida and every weekend they flip a switch and kill everyone’s watch batteries!)                

When you enter my establishment there is a sign on the counter you cannot miss. It’s my store policy during season: “Dead Battery? Leave it today, get it tomorrow.”  Where I come from, next day service is pretty good service. If you can’t wait a day, you could let some inexperienced vaping teenager at the mall kiosk have a go at it who will most likely destroy your $4,000 solid gold Concord watch…be my guest. (Most folks understand my reasoning, some don’t and leave in a huff. I can’t be installing batteries all day, I’m doing what a goldsmith does - making and repairing jewelry).

It’s an extra service I provide for my beloved clients. It’s not a drop everything you’re doing and do it now obligation kind of thing (I make exceptions for my senior citizens on walkers and in wheelchairs; I’m not a totally bad excuse for a human being, according to a previous review). I do them after hours when the door is locked, that way I can avoid being interrupted every 10 minutes. After hours we are not rushed, phone’s not ringing - now my son and I can take our time and do it right. In the off-season months, if I’m not sequestered in a monastery from a nervous breakdown, I might even do it while you wait.  

The latest complainers I presume to be the same party that came on a Monday morning claiming they had an appointment to change batteries in several high-end watches. First button pushed. Then they demanded I bring out my watch tools to the counter and change the batteries right then and there on the glass counter while they watched my every move. Second button pushed. I was expected to perform this service while they stood there in a store with other customers being told to pick up their watches the next day. Third and final button pushed. (My own mom waited a week before I replaced her battery, and she worked here!)

Needless to say none of their requests happened and they were politely (not rudely) told by one of my lovely sales ladies what exactly our island business does and what we don’t do, you know – reality- and that reality was not to their liking. Hence the bad review. Now, I did not speak to them personally, because like they said, “I was too busy making a living with understanding customers,” and that was a good thing, because if I had to deal with them at the counter, that negative review would have been a few more paragraphs and a bit more colorful. 

Days later we got blindsided by the demand for nice jewelry for Valentine’s Day buyers. My son and I worked quite a few late nights putting some unusual request pieces together, one in particular was a solid gold diamond encrusted crab. I’m not sure if the one receiving it was for the zodiac sign for Cancer (June 21st - July 22nd) or if that was the person’s demeanor? 

Another reality that has caught me by surprise is the request for lab created diamonds. These are the “Frankenstein Diamonds.” Several large carat sizes in rings and earrings went out the door this past month and as I mentioned in the past, are becoming more and more popular with all generations. Why spend $10,000 on a pair of natural diamond stud earrings when you can pay around $3,000 for the same exact look. Even an experienced professional jeweler (like myself) would need a fancy expensive device to tell the difference between natural and lab created. They look and wear better than cheap cubic zirconia and are far more superior to Moissanite, another pricy diamond substitute. 

I predict by the next holiday shopping season Walter Marte’ will probably carry the product in aisle four next to kitchen wares. My only fear is the market will be flooded with the stuff, making natural diamonds that much more expensive. I guess it will be a wait and see situation. Onward and upward!

Have a safe and fun season!

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith, Marco’s go-to jeweler since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments about All That Glitters but not your broken watches.





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