Letters

Disclosure of Another Kind

As an appraiser and gemologist as well as a retailer, I am disturbed by some other retailers’ lack of, or disregard for, disclosure on durability issues for specific stones. Tanzanite, the latest craze with consumers, is beautiful and appropriate for earrings, pins, and pendants but inappropriate for rings and bracelets for everyday wear. People who have purchased this stone come in for repair or appraisal and learn that the newly acquired item is damaged already. Give it a year or two, and the stone looks like a frosted cabochon. It is very difficult to professionally explain why the “other jeweler” didn’t share this information before the customer bought the ring.

Princess-cut and baguette-cut diamonds are another problem I encounter. Even though diamond is the hardest gem, it’s not the toughest. It’s been my experience that diamonds with 90-degree corners chip far more frequently than any other style of cut. It has been explained to me that the way the crystal has to be oriented in order to get the sharp corner, a plane of weakness is created. Again, it is very difficult to professionally explain why the “other jeweler” didn’t share this information before the customer bought the ring.

Many customers enter our store with the notion of purchasing one of these fashionable stones. But after disclosure of durability issues, 90% decide on something else. This is good. My problem is with the “other jewelers” who say nothing and leave me the messenger of bad news.

Vincent C. Rundhaug, G.G., ISA, Owner, Columbia Gem & Jewelry, Kennewick, Wash.

Speedy Repairs

I’d like to respond to the article “Speedy Repairs Fuel Franchise Growth” (Business Report, JCK, March 1999, p. 54). We are a Fast-Fix Jewelry Repairs franchise owner with six stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

I take exception to remarks in the story that question whether talented bench jewelers would want to work in a Fast-Fix setting. Not all jewelers have to work out of a dingy back room. The really good bench jewelers don’t mind an audience.

From my experience, only about one in 10 bench jeweler applicants can pass our practical test on soldering, sizing, and setting. At last count, we had seven JA Certified Bench Jewelers on staff, with several others ready to go through this testing process. Many of our jewelers can fabricate from scratch and cast and carve waxes with creative jewelry designs.

Our bench jewelers wear shirts and ties on the job, maintain a professional attitude, and enjoy talking and interacting with customers. Nothing can top the satisfaction of a smile from a customer and a personal “thank you.”

Disclosure of Another Kind

As an appraiser and gemologist as well as a retailer, I am disturbed by some other retailers’ lack of, or disregard for, disclosure on durability issues for specific stones. Tanzanite, the latest craze with consumers, is beautiful and appropriate for earrings, pins, and pendants but inappropriate for rings and bracelets for everyday wear. People who have purchased this stone come in for repair or appraisal and learn that the newly acquired item is damaged already. Give it a year or two, and the stone looks like a frosted cabochon. It is very difficult to professionally explain why the “other jeweler” didn’t share this information before the customer bought the ring.

Princess-cut and baguette-cut diamonds are another problem I encounter. Even though diamond is the hardest gem, it’s not the toughest. It’s been my experience that diamonds with 90-degree corners chip far more frequently than any other style of cut. It has been explained to me that the way the crystal has to be oriented in order to get the sharp corner, a plane of weakness is created. Again, it is very difficult to professionally explain why the “other jeweler” didn’t share this information before the customer bought the ring.

Many customers enter our store with the notion of purchasing one of these fashionable stones. But after disclosure of durability issues, 90% decide on something else. This is good. My problem is with the “other jewelers” who say nothing and leave me the messenger of bad news.

Vincent C. Rundhaug, G.G., ISA, Owner, Columbia Gem & Jewelry, Kennewick, Wash.

Speedy Repairs

I’d like to respond to the article “Speedy Repairs Fuel Franchise Growth” (Business Report, JCK, March 1999, p. 54). We are a Fast-Fix Jewelry Repairs franchise owner with six stores in the Dallas-Fort Worth market.

I take exception to remarks in the story that question whether talented bench jewelers would want to work in a Fast-Fix setting. Not all jewelers have to work out of a dingy back room. The really good bench jewelers don’t mind an audience.

From my experience, only about one in 10 bench jeweler applicants can pass our practical test on soldering, sizing, and setting. At last count, we had seven JA Certified Bench Jewelers on staff, with several others ready to go through this testing process. Many of our jewelers can fabricate from scratch and cast and carve waxes with creative jewelry designs.

Our bench jewelers wear shirts and ties on the job, maintain a professional attitude, and enjoy talking and interacting with customers. Nothing can top the satisfaction of a smile from a customer and a personal “thank you” when our jeweler completes a job and hands it back over the counter.

When you pay your people a good salary and provide a full benefit package that includes medical coverage, vacations, a 401(k) plan, and more, qualified bench jewelers are more than willing to work the mall hours we must maintain.

The jewelers in our malls don’t see us as a competitive threat. We frequently work hand-in-hand with them when they have a problem or need a repair completed when their in-house bench jeweler is away.

Peter LeCody Regional Franchise Owner, Fast-Fix Jewelry Repairs, Lewisville, Texas

The Future of Watchmaking

I enjoyed your article, “Desperately Seeking Watchmakers” (JCK, February 1999, p. 100); however, my view of the current watchmaker shortage is much different.

Many watchmakers, including me, find it very difficult and sometimes impossible to obtain original parts for the high-grade watches we are trained to repair. Several of my peers have been forced to lower their standards and their income, to work on only the watches they can get parts for. Other watchmakers use generic and substandard parts.

For the past 20 years I have been working exclusively for large stores, repairing high-grade watches and making a decent salary. About a year ago I opened a small retail repair shop in a busy area. I take in mostly high-end watches for repair. Unfortunately, I have had to turn many lucrative repair jobs down because I cannot get the original parts I need. This situation is extremely frustrating because I am one of the few highly trained and experienced watchmakers with the ability to repair complicated timepieces.

Manufacturers of high-grade watches are turning a deaf ear to qualified independent watchmakers who need parts. A monopoly has been created by large retailers who want to take all the repair work for every watch brand they sell. Independent watchmakers are discouraged by manufacturers’ closed-door policy regarding parts. There is no future for an independent watchmaker who does not have access to original parts.

Of my five children, the three oldest have chosen careers different from my own. One of my two younger children, still at home, has shown a keen interest and ability in watch repair. Should I take him under apprenticeship, as I learned in my native Italy? Is there a future for him as a fine craftsman? I ponder my own future as well as his.

Antonio Sodano, Swiss Watch Service Inc., Palm Gardens, Fla.