Most folks would never imagine the spectrum of emotions that are involved in the jewelry business. Those of us who are in “The Biz” could write volumes about our experiences, good and bad. It can begin with a nervous young gentleman, who probably never set foot in a jewelry store before, looking like a confused deer in the headlights, wanting to pick out an engagement ring. After many hours trying to decide and numerous trips to the shop, he pops me the question: “What if she does not accept my proposal, can I return it?” Great question – problem is based on the fact I had to build this ring from scratch from his drawings in combinations of rose and white gold holding a heart shaped diamond in a size four and a half … the answer is a resounding NO (my posted policy states no refunds, exchanges on custom made-to-order jewelry).
Not intending to be cruel here but if I took back all the engagement rings and wedding bands from relationships and marriages that went sideways or ended up in a divorce not only would I have been out of business by my losses, I could have hung those sad story baubles from my showroom ceiling and it would resemble the grand crystal chandelier in Buckingham Palace!
I got burnt more than once (never again though). One does not engrave wedding bands before they were paid in full, say for example, “Johnny to Mary 5/5/05 love you forever.” Apparently forever while being engaged doesn’t last that long anymore! And then adding insult to injury, the no longer “bride-to-be” demanded a refund for the “love you forever” engraved bands and he’s the one who left the deposit.
There are times even I shed a tear or two doing memorial pieces such as lockets and cremation jewelry (these are pieces that hold a loved one’s ashes.). The process is emotional from start to finish especially when my staff or I also knew the loved one.
There is also pride – that’s a very strong emotion. Years ago, I restored a sterling silver identification bracelet that the granddaughter of the recently deceased owner brought in to be restored so she could wear it. The original owner was her grandfather who was given the bracelet from his wife in 1942 hours before he was shipped to Europe to fight in WWII. Her Grandpa wore that bracelet when he stormed Omaha beach in Normandy, he survived the fighting all through France and Germany, without so much as a scratch. He so fulfilled what was inscribed on the reverse side – “Please come back to me… love Clara.” He and Clara were happily married for 65 years before his passing.
Then there is Valentine’s Day when love is in the air. I found that the day after Valentine’s Day could be as busy as the day before because certain uncaring males re-discovered another very well-known emotion – a woman’s wrath – thus forcing them to make amends with an apology trinket.
The birth of a child is another emotional experience; my youngest daughter is about to bless me with a third grandson next month. I will have to get busy making another charm with the name “Benjamin” for her white gold baby bracelet.
If you have been following my story so far, it’s not hard to notice that engraved jewelry has so much more emotion attached to it.
Richard Alan is a designer/ goldsmith and the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith, Marco’s Island Jeweler since 1994. He welcomes your questions and comments about All That Glitters. www.harborgoldsmith.com.