What’s in a name? Maybe trouble!

Good advice for making jewelryAs small business owners, we try to think of everything. But we can’t.

I was reminded of this by a post in a jewelry forum by a woman who was considering what name to give her business.  She offered a number of suggestions and asked for feedback.

Years ago, I was doing business under the name “Fleury Jewelry.” One night over discussions with friends in the trade, someone mentioned that anyone who sells jewelry should never include the word in their business title. His point was that the term “jewelry” on business cards, labels, store signage, etc., is an invitation to thieves.

I was unpleasantly reminded of that advice a short time later when when a representative from the state taxing authority contacted me and wondered why I wasn’t paying more in state taxes since I was in the “jewelry business.”

Where were tax receipts from engagement rings, he wondered. Where were tax receipts from gold necklaces? What kind of inventory did I have in gemstones that I was not paying taxes on, he asked.

I had to give a relatively long tutorial on the subject of “studio” jewelry which is what I sold. Studio jewelry is of course “art jewelry.” (The term goes back to just after WWII where returning veterans began to produce one of a kind or limited production work in their studios and/or garages.)

Studio jewelers or art jewelers, I explained, produce jewelry using a variety of materials, but usually not what we think of as “commercial jewelry.” That is, they may use gemstones and precious metals, but not always, and in fact, most don’t. Some use found materials; others inexpensive materials such as aluminum. Still others may use wood or fuse thin strips of precious metals to other metals.

The upshot was that I had to send representative images of the jewelry to the state to prove what I was telling him, that I didn’t have a big inventory of diamonds in a safe in a back room. That, yes, we did produce engagement rings, but that these were one-of-a-kind and didn’t always involve diamonds or even gemstones.

It was definitely unpleasant and I intensely dislike being on the radar of these kinds of agencies. Shortly thereafter I moved (a move that already had been planed) and changed my DBA.

So, while I never had trouble with anyone stealing a package, I did have my own kind of trouble with another type of thief. (Yes, this is debatable, of course, but it was a difficult experience.)

However, it was and is good advice for anyone who sells jewelry.





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