Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Honesty & integrity



Richard Alan

I’m finally settled in and open at my new location at Island Plaza (better known as Beall’s Plaza) and in just two short weeks I have achieved the desired results I was hoping for.

One was to be busier than I was at my old Front Street location, the other was to attract some new clientele. It’s no secret to many of us seasoned island business people that lots of our customers abandon “the rock” each year and many never return for whatever reasons.

I have seen a lot of new faces with the old and that’s a great thing, and with new faces comes questions of my honesty and integrity. I used to find it hard to believe that being on the island since 1994, and the thousands of dollars I have spent on advertising, still some islanders have never heard of my business.

That goes for a lot of island businesses. It just goes to show you word of mouth is everything here and it better be good words. It took me 17 years to build the reputation I have on Marco. (My Mom and her friends tell me it’s an honorable one.)

Marco’s population is like the tide, or as Jimmy Buffet says “In the tropics they come and they go.” I can name quite a few characters with questionable business ethics who seem to have vanished into thin air.

So, when a new customer questions my honesty and integrity with a piece of his or her treasured jewelry he/she is contemplating leaving in my care, unlike many jewelers I don’t take offense, it’s a perfectly understandable question. The customer could be a Naples or Marco newbie. Let’s face it, the new ones don’t know me from Adam.

There is not a week that goes by I don’t hear a customer’s horror story about what had happened with some other jeweler “up north” or in a nearby town that involved possible stone switching or how their cherished piece was destroyed by an amateur bench jeweler.

I can relate. All a person needs in this country to open a jewelry store, is the capital to build and stock it. Nowhere is it required by the state or government that you actually have any knowledge or training in the craft.

Many European countries require documented schooling, apprenticeship or training just to be a waitress or hairdresser.

It can be very difficult there to get a license to practice the art of a goldsmith. Just look how many fly by niters in Collier county store fronts who are advertising they buy gold lately. I heard some guy on the island works out of his car and comes to your home, for Pete’s sake…Integrity?

The jewelry business as a whole is a very honorable marketplace where transactions of thousands, even millions of dollars worth of gold or diamonds are conducted with just a handshake.

You break that trust and watch your business shrivel up and blow away in the wind when other jewelry vendors and dealers hear you are not a man or woman of your word and you quickly become a jeweler with a tarnished reputation…or a lack of…Integrity.

What I’m trying to say is the industry as a whole does not tolerate anyone who gives the business a bad name whether it is wholesale or retail. There is nothing more sacred to jewelers as the moral foundations they build with honesty, trust and integrity. Lose it with your peers or customers, it’s time to find another career.

There are many ways to test “a jeweler’s worth.” First, ask around town; you will hear of his integrity first hand. Research the business with the local Better Business Bureau- lots of complaints cannot be a good sign.

Doing business with a jeweler, you expect everything to be above board, experience and professionalism, the quality of product, craftsmanship and fair pricing, (like getting what you paid for.)

For me, most important, is security of my client’s possessions while in my care for repair or restorations. My customers know that when anything is left in my shop, regardless if it’s for ten minutes or two weeks, I am responsible for its repair and safekeeping no matter if it was a ten dollar Timex or a $20,000 Piaget watch…Trust.

My goldsmiths or I perform the repairs with the utmost care and skill that over 60 years of combined bench experience can provide, thus assuring the customer that the article they left will be repaired or restored perfectly and will continue to bring joy to its bearer for years to come.

Customers uneasy about leaving large important pieces, diamonds or gems in my shop or any other can request a “plotting” of the gem that points out and describes measurements and photos of the diamond or gemstone’s characteristics.

No two diamonds or gems are exactly alike. This simple security process leaves no doubt that the diamond or gem is the exactly the same one left for repair or alteration when they come to retrieve the diamond piece…Honesty.

A shop that is conducting business in a professional and friendly way can alleviate a lot of fears. My goodness, my mom works in the shop three days a week and would box my ears if I showed disrespect in front of her. My point is a jewelry store would never continue to do business if even rumors, let alone convictions of dirty dealing or stone switching are their daily practices.

Of course, I employ a state of the art security system that includes daily monitors and motion alarms, a large safe keeping system and more than adequate insurance for the entire store…

And for me that is…Peace of Mind. 

As good as gold. Charles Dickens (1812-1870)

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and the owner of the Harbor Goldsmith and Richard’s Reefs on Marco Island and welcomes your questions about “All That Glitters” 239-394-9275.


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