Pay No Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Submitted Photo

It’s a fact that many jewelry stores don’t have on premises workshops. That requires the have-nots to job out their repairs, so even simple adjustments such as a bent prong or even a watch battery change (to name a few services) can result in a long wait for the customer. The reason? Mainly because it is sent out of the city, and sometimes, even out of the state. Many folks don’t know this fact, or they are not informed that their watches or precious jewels may end up on a covert road trip carried by who-knows-who to who-knows-where. That fact does not give most folks a warm, fuzzy feeling about leaving their valuables.

My store/workshop on Marco Island has been doing on premises jewelry services for nearly twenty-five years, which includes all the services listed above and much more. The only things that leave my shop are diamond and gemstone cutting or polishing, which is a rare occurrence, and that is done under strict security by registered mail.

I prefer to accept work that I can do completely in house, even pearl restringing, that way my customer’s valuables never leave the shop, and sleep safe and sound in a cozy vault each night complete with the latest in a high security system.

I run a retail jewelry store complete with two full time goldsmiths on the premises. Yes, we change watch batteries

(as many as 40 or more a day in season!). We also supply and adjust watch straps on a daily basis. We try to accommodate folks while they wait, but that is not always possible, especially in season when we are jammed with customers and a heavy workload, so we then offer “same day service.”

It’s amazing how many folk’s noses get bent out of joint because they have to leave it for an hour or two, or heaven forbid the next day! (I have friends in the biz up north who take days, even a week for a battery change!)

I also catch hell for not having a watch repair service. My reason for that is simple, I’m not a watchmaker, I’m a goldsmith. Marco’s only watchmaker’s time ran out twenty years ago and I hope he is repairing the angels and saints’ timepieces in heaven. Don’t let anyone kid you, there are no watchmakers in Marco Island, period. If there were, I would know about it. Anyone who accepts watch repairs here on the rock has to ship the work off-island.

That said, I honestly don’t want to ship out watches (been there, did that!). The cost of shipping, insurance and the actual repair costs, plus the usual comeback problems (“It loses 20 seconds a month!”) made it a money-losing ulcer adventure for me. So I don’t accept them. No more ulcer!

Besides, who’s bought a watch in an actual jewelry store lately? Most watches are bought in discount houses like Costco or millions of shady places online. Most new models require a factory authorized repair facility if things go wrong, and that brings even more hassles. I am more than happy to recommend a few competent watch repair facilities in Naples that can do the repairs correctly. That way I’ll let them reap the joy, happiness and rapture that ensue with the wonderful world of broken watches.

Enter my busy shop on an average day and you usually can hear machinery humming, hammers clinking and banging, and commercial steam cleaners blowing loudly, not to mention a beehive of activity. That symphony of controlled chaos is the result of a busy workshop on the other side of an accordion curtain.

In that noisy workshop gold jewelry is being designed, carefully created by hand and then set with diamonds or precious gemstones. All kinds of beautiful pieces are then polished to a high luster and later presented to a customer who commissioned us because they appreciate fine old world craftsmanship.

In addition to making fine jewelry on Marco, we have one of the most respected restoration and repair shops in all of South Florida, and that carries over to our loyal customers in Europe and beyond. So please don’t be upset because you think I’m hiding behind that curtain and you’re frustrated you can’t catch my eye, because yes, I’m actually hiding behind my curtain, because I’m up to my ears with a bench full of intricate work and in my groove trying to get work accomplished so I don’t have to stay here again ‘til midnight. I’m truly sorry I can’t drop what I’m doing and change your watch battery right this darn minute.

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, or visit his informative website at

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.