Sunday, October 17, 2021

If I Had the Tools…

Home lobotomy kit.

Home lobotomy kit.


Richard Alan

Ah yes, the month of March in Southwest Florida… In like a lion, out like a lamb? I’d say it’s more in as a tyrannasaus rex and out like a rabid bull alligator. This March has been like no other I can remember in decades. The island is packed, and many folks have pushed impatience to a new obnoxious level. Now mind you, in case you are new here, as in just moved in,or maybe a first time visitor, tourist, whatever, this is the height of season. It rarely gets more busy than this (have you tried getting into a restaurant without a reservation?). Too many people, too many cars and too little patience. Relax, it’s South Florida. The sun, sand and the Gulf of Mexico…You are no longer waiting in line at a big city deli on a 20-minute lunch break…Cool your jets and chill!

So taking all that into consideration, it never fails to amuse me when oftentimes I am presented a piece of broken jewelry, whether it is expensive or not, and the customer claims, “It’s no big deal, If I had the tools I could fix it myself.” Yes sure, and if I had the right tools, and watched the procedure a couple of times on YouTube I could most likely perform a lobotomy on myself and make myself become comfortability numb and back to my workbench within the hour and ignore everyone who tells me I’ve had their repair over a week. If it were that easy!

If the tool thing isn’t enough to tick me off, after they finally decide maybe it’s for the best that they let the goldsmith/bench jeweler (yours truly) with nearly fifty years of experience do the jewelry repair, it’s “Oh! You can’t do it now while I wait? It’s a simple thing, it shouldn’t take you more than a minute!” Here’s where I remember I made a New Year’s resolution to stop being so sarcastic and refrain from continuing my abrasive nature that was caused by dealing with socially unacceptable behavior from a supposedly civilized and intelligent general population.

You all know how long resolutions usually last? In my case not long.

My resolution lasted 2½ months…So excuse me, as I go off my rocker here. When in heaven’s name did a retired John Deere assembly line worker from Mulepie, AK learn the art of repairing a delicate antique platinum diamond ring? And then he tells me how much time, skill and effort the intricate process requires for completion! While he’s at it, why not tell me what I should charge him?

Oh wait! You mean I have the audacity to even charge him for such a “simple thing?”

Anyone who knows me, knows that this episode did not end well for “Mr. Elmer BeFuddled” from Mulepie, AK. I’m positive he trotted home to do his own repair with whatever tools were at hand in the garage workshop; the finished results are always disastrous and usually involve lead solder, super glue or marine-tex and impossible for me to remedy. That poor ring and a very sad Mama.

I once had a guy who wanted to borrow my tools, to fix his wife’s ring; he promised he would bring them back in the morning. That didn’t happen.

My favorite peeve is folks wanting to borrow my watch case press (case back closer) because in the process of changing their own battery they found it impossible to put the back on the watch again. Gee, no kidding, maybe that’s why professional jewelers and watchmakers charge a fee to perform that service, more time than I care to remember I’m handed the failed DIY battery replacement, and now I’m expected to use my $600 tool and my skill to snap on the pesky watch case for no charge. For cripes sakes a watch battery costs around seven bucks at C.V.S. or Walgreens so for another lousy three dollars, my son or I personally (or most jewelers) will charge you to do it correctly. No, you would rather go at it like a chimp opening an oyster with a rock and butcher your belolved timepiece over saving three bucks? Boggles my mind. (Did I mention in the process of changing their own battery they managed to lose screws or mangle the delicate internal parts of their watch, rendering the timepiece inoperatable…And guess who’s fault it is after not being told they pre-destroyed the watch when I go to open it?)

Nincompoops! Maybe there is such a thing as a DIY lobotomy ? Well that felt good, now on to serious matters.

The birthstone for April is the majestic diamond –  it’s not just for engagement rings, they are welcomed for most any occasion I can think of, especially birthdays.

A little Diamonds 101 for those of you who may not be enlightened in such things, Elmer BeFuddled, whom I mentioned above, comes to mind.

Diamonds also come in a variety of colors, shapes (cut) and above all, sizes. The cut is not necessarily the shape, but how well the diamond is cut to ideal specifications. The bigger the gem (Carat) the more rare it is. There are 100 points to a carat. Then add in a rare color such as pink; Color is mainly graded on how white or colorless a diamond is, the scale begins at D and progresses down in color quality to Z, I’m sure you are familiar with how many shades of white there are, fancy colors are graded on a different scale. And then flawless clarity – clarity is the amount of imperfections or inclusions in the diamond or lack of.

Add all these premium factors together Carat, Cut, Color, Clarity and one more, Cost. Watch your bank account dwindle when you go to pay for that flawless five carat natural pink diamond.

When it comes to diamonds and many gemstones, bigger isn’t always better. I have seen many big diamonds of atrocious quality, some that were comparable to a piece of rock salt. Sure it was big, but it was not pretty. I’d put my money on a smaller, cleaner and brighter diamond.

There is nothing good to say about a diamond with a crummy cut either, such as a not-so-round diamond, or a crooked cut square that will never look right in a setting. I recently saw a marquis cut (football shape) that was a thin sliver, not attractive. The major factor is not paying good money for a “dog” of a diamond. That’s were I come in. If you truly want to see how affordable a beautiful white, near-flawless ideal cut diamond can be, come in anytime. And for those who think all diamonds are the same, check out YouTube for the DIY home lobotomy.

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith at Island Plaza and welcomes your questions about all that glitters. Contact him at 239-394-9275 or, or visit his informative website at

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