Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Good as Gold


Handcrafted diamond and 18kt. gold gent’s ring by Richard Alan. Photo by Richard Alan

Handcrafted diamond and 18kt. gold gent’s ring by Richard Alan. Photo by Richard Alan

Finally the demand for quality gold jewelry is back again and I’m rejoicing its return! No more jewelry made of wood, rocks, plastic, stainless steel, or titanium. So called “alternative metals” we in the industry were told, all disguised as nice jewelry. The thought of having it for sale in my jewelry shop irritated every fiber in this goldsmith’s anatomy. I’m a goldsmith not a carpenter or a stonemason for Pete’s sake!

For a time there silver became “the new gold” but the public wanted yellow metal and gold plated silver is just that, “gold plated.” We all know that the gold wears off eventually and in time the wear and tear renders the piece to shabby, unattractive and unwearable. And gold plated stainless steel jewelry is like putting lipstick on a pig, worthless and useless.



Gold has value no matter what. It was the world’s first recyclable material. That wedding band you are wearing could have gold content plundered from an ancient Egyptian tomb or from Blackbeard’s pirate treasure hoard. You can melt that wedding band and rework it over and over for centuries and it remains gold.

I love working with the yellow metal gold. I have gold dust under my fingernails, even in my moustache, only I don’t hoard it, I fondle and work with it. I enjoy producing beautiful and wondrous pieces of jewelry with my two hands and make a living doing it.

I have always said that the art of being a goldsmith was the oldest profession. I’m wrong you might say, wasn’t that in fact the profession of “ladies of the night”? I will have to disagree, how was payment rendered? I think the Madame would prefer coins or jewelry (both created by goldsmiths, by the way) over a smelly and scruffy old goat or chicken. ‘Nuff said.

Fine gold jewelry is also the world’s first antidepressant. I have yet to see a woman express sadness (this is not to be confused with tears of joy) when presented a beautiful piece of fine jewelry. (I once presented my ex-wife a microwave for Christmas and she expressed anger while I expressed sadness and fear of having it thrown in my general direction.)

I experience the joy and rapture every day in the shop. For example, when a customer returns to pick up a simple repair, not only do we repair it, but we clean and refinish it like brand new, and you see the surprise on their face as they fall in love with the piece all over again.

Nice gold jewelry always has a story to tell, because it is created to last, and many times it was presented for a special occasion.

Cheap jewelry is not meant to last. Go ahead, call me a jewelry snob. If you could see the junk that comes across my bench in any given week that requires intense skill to patch up only to see it fall apart elsewhere a week or month later (and guess whose fault it is?).

Words to live by… Friends don’t give friends cheap jewelry!

I would rather spend my time and expertise restoring something worth repairing; at least I know it will stay in one piece.

Lately, as I have mentioned in the past, I’m refusing certain repairs because now that I’m in my sixties I have learned that I physically and mentally deplore working on the stuff. And even my son who is only in his twenties hates working on the dreck already.

As the title of the story states, gold is back and folks are looking for quality again. Let me warn you, remember this is a jewelry snob talking. Just because it’s made of gold does not mean it’s a quality piece of jewelry. Lightweight, hollow jewelry is like the lipstick sporting pig only, with bows this time. It’s junk, don’t buy it; especially hollow chains or flimsy earrings. Don’t bring it to me when it fails to meet your expectations, I don’t want it, I won’t fix it.

Nothing feels like real gold, there is a magic, a heft and a good feeling, and if it’s done right it will last a lifetime and beyond.

Questions? I am always open to answering questions about all that glitters. Visit or email

“I never worry about diets; the only carrots that interest me are the number you get in a diamond!” ~ Mae West

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at the Island Plaza and has been Marco’s go to jeweler since 1994.

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