For independent jewelry retailers, no season mocks the notion of spare time quite like the holidays. Extended hours, temporary staffers, huge inventory turnover—not to mention the challenge of maintaining stellar customer service for a clientele on steroids—leave most jewelers with just enough energy to crawl into bed at the end of each day. That’s why we asked some of the industry’s go-to vendors of tools and supplies for recommendations on gadgets that make short work out of long projects.
Radio frequency identification (RFID) inventory is as easy as waving a magic wand. Cat Dunbar, marketing coordinator for Kassoy, likes Gem-Where’s RFID Package (starting at $5,995, kassoy.com), which gives retailers the ability to count hundreds of tags per minute by swiping the handheld reader over a tray or display case. “RFID increases the speed and accuracy of physical inventory,” Dunbar says. “When integrated with your existing software vendor, one person can easily scan and reconcile the day’s inventory in minutes.”
A Closer View
Setting gemstones is a major time commitment—which is why Andy Kroungold, director of tool sales and technical bench at Stuller, recommends upgrading bench microscopes to the caliber of Meiji’s EMZ-5 Binocular Microscope Bench System ($1,995.95, stuller.com). With a zoom range of 0.7X to 4.5X and eye tubes inclined at 45 degrees to fend off eyestrain, this high-tech tool “is what all the Stuller bench folk use,” he says. “It allows jewelers to set stones easier and faster and more efficiently.”
Kroungold also suggests a jewelry polisher that’s time-efficient and cost-effective. The Quatro Stand Up Polishing Unit ($2,100, stuller.com) self-sweeps metal dust into an air inlet below the polishing wheel. Its three-stage filtering system is 99.97 percent effective at capturing even the smallest metal particles.
A Better Welder
Consider swapping a bulky manual welder for a compact touch-screen model. Chuck Duncan, account manager for Gesswein, picks the PUK 04 Welding System ($5,295, gesswein.com), which lets you key in metal and project type and start welding immediately.
Kassoy offers a speedy way to gauge the metal content of any jewelry item: the Thermo Scientific Niton XL2 Precious Metal Analyzer ($18,500, kassoy.com). Dunbar calls the gun-shape tool “a must for any business that buys and sells large quantities of precious metals.”
Marking Made Easy
“There’s a huge difference, in terms of time, between laser engraving and traditional engraving,” says Gail Farias, communications director for LaserStar Technologies. Its FiberCube Laser Marking System (starting at $29,500, laserstar.net) can cut into nearly every metal, on both flat and curved surfaces.
Setting the Bar
The EZStart-3 Label and Bar Code Package (starting at $700, kassoy.com) produces professional-grade bar codes via software, a thermal transfer printer, ribbon, a roll of tags, and optional US-85 bar code scanner. “It helps you gain control over your inventory,” says Dunbar.