Wednesday, December 1, 2021

Better Things to Come?




Richard Alan

I’ll start off by avoiding being branded with which political party I favor or which I do not.

Any business minded person with half a brain on an island where irony came to die knows to avoid that potential minefield.

Let’s just say I for one will be relieved when the whole election circus is over and done with, and the chips will fall where they may. It seems to be the only topic these past months (or has it been years?). I have endured many colored comments and heated words of political wisdom, but only one thing peaked my interest. If even half the people hold true to their election result promise, half the island may be emigrating to Canada or Europe, and in one case Iceland. I suggested Timbuktu to one nut case. The Grande Exodus depends on who becomes the next president. Bad for business, but it will certainly relieve parking and restaurant reservations on the rock this coming season.

On a serious note, while vacationing in Europe I noticed on the BBC news station that the world’s largest supplier of diamonds, De Beers, mentioned an unprecedented increase in purchases from wholesalers and retailers alike, stocking up for the upcoming holiday season. I have to admit there has been a dramatic increase in diamond demand here in my shop on Marco, even during the off-season. My custom-made pendants, engagement rings and diamond wedding bands totally rocked last season, when in seasons past demand was almost nonexistent.

The purchasing of fine jewelry is once again enjoying a recent renaissance because the dreck (garbage) folks have been buying the past five years has fallen apart or disintegrated beyond repair by now. Fine jewelry costs more but at least it has a longer lifespan than a Florida fruit fly.

I get a kick out of people who pay big bucks for shabby jewelry that is actually made out of plastic or cheap pot metal, and when it falls apart think it is my responsibility to repair it for next to nothing. I tell them to invest in a $1 tube of super glue, bring it home and glue away! You are now a self-taught cheap jewelry repairperson. I have to cringe at the fact that super glue is the only way to fix most broken “Recent Depression Era Jewelry.” White glass stones that are in fashion rings and watches, and simply glued in, won’t stay in indefinitely, especially at the discounted price of $9.99!

Am I a jewelry snob? You bet! I’m a seasoned professional goldsmith and the thought of using glue to repair a piece of jewelry is adverse to every fiber in my body. It’s right up there with gold or silver-plated wire wrapped around a rock and called jewelry that you find at every art fair. Come on, really? People may comment on it and say it’s nice when you wear it, but what they are really thinking is you bought a cheap rock wrapped in wire that will soon turn your neck or finger green. And now that I am on a roll…Oh! And ladies, you know those high fashion watches you have been buying and collecting to match every outfit you own at better department stores because the have been “marked down” from $700 to an amazing $300 or even $200? They all have a cheap $10 Chinese/Japanese movement inside, and that includes most major expensive handbag brand watches, all you have to do is pop off the back to see the truth. A fancy advertised brand name watch with a pretty face, just add smoke, mirrors and a fancy box and in comes millions of dollars in revenue for a 20-dollar watch.

My shop is now void of any Depression Era Jewelry for sale and I rarely accept it for repair, (I have a soft spot for some of my elderly clientele especially when tears well up in their eyes because the costume jewelry was a gift from a grandchild.) This is where “I can fix almost anything” comes in…but really what’s the point? Throwing good money for bad, it will soon fall apart again in another place.

A recent question on the subject of jewelry appraisals was asked on my website,

Sharon W. wanted to know what exactly should she insure and not insure because the cost to insure her entire jewelry collection would be prohibitive. My answer to Sharon:

If there was ever a time to insure your fine jewelry, that would be now. I have heard many sad stories these past two years of total loss of cherished heirlooms due to theft or mysterious disappearances.

Rarely a week goes by that I don’t do an appraisal or sometimes a dozen. And all insurance companies require a current value appraisal in order for you to insure your valuable baubles. My rule of thumb is if the value is under $500 you can let these items slide, especially if you rarely wear them. Many current insurance policies have a deductible of some sort, and $300- $500 seems to be the magic numbers. A small, concealed home safe is a good idea, and it can be purchased right here on the island at Gulf Island Lock and Safe. It’s also handy and a lot more convenient for folks who won’t use a safe deposit box at the bank to store jewelry they wear a lot.

Obviously insuring important diamond or precious stone jewelry is a must. This can also include your hubby’s presidential Rolex and any of Milady’s other high-grade watches.

Next thing you have to consider is the cost for the appraisals. If you don’t have original sales receipts or older detailed appraisals, that will cost you large because now it will take a great deal of the appraiser’s time to break down sizes, estimate carat weights and qualities, and so on. Nowadays an insurance company will not accept a simple receipt from a jewelry store in St. Croix that says “One ladies diamond ring…$4,200 US or a non-detailed appraisal.

Remember an appraiser’s time is money… your money! Bring details of the jewelry you own to an appraiser (Like yours truly!)- I will save you money.

Another way money can be saved is that you may find many of your pieces are over appraised. I have come across many cases by thousands of dollars. Forget what you heard in the 1980s about diamonds quadrupling in value – that was a bold faced lie, that the diamond industry even today tries to ignore. The $25,000 you paid in the eighties for a 1.50-carat heart-shape diamond may only be worth 9K today. Same goes for other out-of-style diamond shapes.

Also, shop around when it comes to choosing your insurance company. Some can be a real rip-off by charging insane rates, and then make it nearly impossible to get compensated in the event of a legitimate loss. Just so I can avoid any lawsuits here, ask me in person and I will name a few big names to stay away from.

I highly recommend Jeweler’s Mutual Insurance because unlike all others they only insure jewelry and know the business in and out.

Sharon, I hoped this info can help you make a decision when insuring your precious jewels. Feel free to call me at 239-394-9275 if you have any other questions.

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith of Marco Island. He has over 45 years experience in the jewelry business, 22 of those in business on Marco Island. He welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters,” or

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