The other day I was talking to a man who has visited the public sections at the big winter gem show in Tucson. While I was chatting with him, his wife wandered over and when she discovered the topic of the conversation announced that she wouldn’t buy anything at the gem show because she would be afraid of being cheated.
I was surprised how annoyed I was at that assertion – that her very real expectation was that she would be cheated. It didn’t occur to her that most people in our trade wouldn’t risk putting their livelihoods in jeopardy to make a deceptive sale. Bottom line – it’s just not worth it.
But the comment does bring up a very real issue for jewelers – and here I include pearl and bead stringers. Too many in the trade fail to learn about the materials they work with, either the gemstones or the metal. In all innocence, a metalsmith, for example, could sell a blue topaz as an aquamarine or even a tanzanite because he or she hasn’t taken the time to learn how to identify them.
In another example, many people, jewelers, bead stringers and metalsmiths, confuse reconstituted amber with untreated amber when it’s really simple to identify the difference.
In other words, it’s all too easy for customers to buy from ignorant sellers and then feel cheated and deceived when they discover the product is not as it was presented. In these situations, I believe that the seller, however, well-intentioned, is at fault and is perpetrating fraud.
There are far too many resources and organizations that provide information to people who sell gems either as a part of a finished product or as unfinished goods. It’s our job to take advantage of them so that if we have a question about the materials we’re using we can answer it – for ourselves and our clients.
When I ran the gallery, I would automatically reject jewelers and beadstringers who didn’t take the time to learn about the materials they were using. I found it unacceptably sloppy (and lazy). It was one of the few rules I had, but it was an inflexible one.
Please take the time to learn about the materials you’re using in a piece of work. It’s not hard to find the information. There will always be people like the woman referenced above who believe that given the chance, the trade will cheat a customer. But, by increasing the level of knowledge we bring to sales, we not only reduce that chance, we heighten our personal reputations – and presumably our own pleasure since we’re in the business because we love it. Right?