Profits and Salaries

It was interesting to read your article “Salary Survey: If You Catch ‘Em, Can You Keep ‘Em?” (JCK, November 2000, p. 130) in which you describe salaries in the jewelry industry as being “appallingly low.” As jewelers struggle with low diamond profit margins, how ironic it is to publish in the same issue that De Beers’ profits tripled in the first half of this year to $866 million (Diamond Notes, p. 70).

Steve Martin, G.G., MBA

M. Martin and Company Jewelers

Appraisal Training Needed

Compliments are in order for publishing “Bad Appraising Lands Good Jeweler in Court,” (JCK, January 2001, p. 128). This case provides some excellent evidence supporting the need for quality professional personal property appraisal training. It is a shame that few consumers will read it, since it would alert them to the importance of determining the qualifications and training of an appraiser prior to hiring one. Over the last couple of years, the International Society of Appraisers has experienced an increase in the number of inquiries from the public about members’ qualifications.

ISA also provides excellent networking and support opportunities, allowing members to obtain assistance from experts when dealing with unfamiliar situations. This case points out the dangers of representing oneself to the public as a professional appraiser without having obtained the proper training. It also shows the consequences of making certification statements without ensuring that all “i’s” have been dotted and “t’s” crossed.

ISA recently established a limit on how long a person is permitted to remain at the Associate Member level. Members must now complete their core appraisal studies within five years and document enough experience to obtain Accredited Member status, or leave the Society.

I am sure this landmark case, and your reporting of it, will be cited in appraisal studies courses offered by the major personal property appraisal associations. Please continue your unstinting efforts to make the public, as well as the professionals, aware of the value of formal appraisal training-and of the risks they run without it.

Christian A. Coleman, ISA CAPP (ret)

Making the Grade

I enjoyed your recent Grade This article by Gary Roskin (JCK, January 2001, p. 66), but I must strongly disagree regarding the assignment of SI1 as the clarity grade. While I recognize a range of clarity within a certain clarity grade, if each of these inclusions on its own dictates an SI1 grade, it seems only logical that the clouds and feathers as a whole must dictate an SI2 clarity, particularly since the clouds in the stone are directly in the center of the table and rather high up in the stone. I could accept the SI1 grade if the clouds were on the edge of the stone, but you seem to have put minimal, if any, weight on the central location of the clouds.

Clarity grading is probably the most subjective of the “four Cs.” However, in my store, erring on the conservative side is a better “error” than erring on the liberal side.

Gary Youngberg

Ames Silversmithing Inc.

Gary Roskin replies: I empathize with you on the dilemma of the central location of the cloud and agree that a grader shouldn’t be too easy. But neither should a grader be too tough. In defense of the grade, we have to take into account the other four factors: nature, number, color, and size. A cloud is less important in nature than, say, a feather or group of crystals. Therefore, while the location is not good, the nature is better than any other inclusion of that size and in that location. The whitish color of the cloud is also a positive factor, better than if it were to loupe dark, as possibly a group of crystals or some intergrowth/twinning wisps. Size also is a major factor, as the cloud doesn’t take up much space in the table, even at 10x. So, taking all that into account, the laboratory graded the diamond as SI1.

While I agree with the lab on this one, that doesn’t mean we agree all the time. However, since the lab was GIA’s, and since GIA invented the grading system, most people, including the consumer, will accept the lab report.

Questioning Solder

I was shocked to read the Practical Jewelry Repair article in your January 2001 edition (“Retipping Prongs With Solder,” p. 176). While it is true that solder can be nearly as hard as pieces of gold, solder alone is a booby trap lying in wait for the next bench jeweler. Once the solder prongs are worn down, or if one is broken off by an accident, if the next jeweler tries to put on a regular prong using common techniques, he will suddenly see all the other prongs change shape! Yes, it is a time and money saving, but the piper will be paid sometime. In our repairs, we will not allow the use of this technique.

Francis Kisner

Kisner’s Gems

Alan Revere replies: This series of articles presents repair techniques used by bench jewelers today. One of my missions is to share information in an industry that is traditionally very secretive. I try to teach others and broaden their bench skills and thereby assist them in their careers. Within the series, different approaches are demonstrated and discussed. I am not advocating one technique over another, but instead I am documenting commonly used jewelry repair techniques that work.

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