Sunday, October 24, 2021

Preventive Maintenance Plan


Submitted Photo

Submitted Photo

Ever notice lately whenever you make an important purchase such as a refrigerator, washer, microwave or even a power tool, the cashier asks if you want to purchase the extended warranty or maintenance plan? Now I always say no, because every time I did choose and pay the extra money for the product or warranty plan I would find it always expired a week (even days) before the product in question went kaput beyond repair.

As far as I know there are no such plans for fine jewelry, but I believe some high-end watches have such plans. Although I am aware of several insurance companies that require their policyholders to have high priced jewelry items checked or inspected by professional jewelers or goldsmiths annually for gemstone security or just normal wear and tear. Some company policies state that failure to do so can result in cancellation of the policy.

I personally applaud such policies; it benefits both parties, prevents stone loss, saves the insurer the pain and anguish of losing a cherished piece of jewelry, and reduces claims due to the insured’s negligence. The less insurance companies pay loss claims the lower the premiums are for all of us, from just a yearly inspection. Ironically, only a small percentage of the population care about such things, and that includes most insurance companies who, as we all know, enjoy charging high premiums.

Now back to the real world with real jewelry wearing people. I have learned in my vastly long experience as a goldsmith on this particular planet…most people pretty much run their jewelry into the ground so to say, ignoring worn out prongs, channels or bezels that result in total gemstone loss, ring shanks that wear so thin they eventually split causing the ring to self-destruct and fall off the finger to be lost forever. This includes neck chains, bracelets, anklets – you name it. For me it’s a wonderful thing, because it keeps me in business and supports my lavish lifestyle. It’s a perfect case of you shoulda, woulda, coulda! It’s all preventable, and a great source of daily drama in my shop, as well as unlimited material for my columns.

Those people with the resulting basket case jewelry repairs generally enter my establishment after the cow has left the barn. (And that cow is not coming back home.) When it is beyond repair it is no longer a repair, it’s a complete replacement. All precious metal jewelry, cheap or expensive, wears to some extent. If you wear it occasionally it will last for generations, wear it 24-7 maybe a decade or so.

This is fact. Believe me, I have seen it firsthand (or did I read it somewhere on the internet?).

In actuality, most islanders have heeded my advice. I recall writing more than a few sermons about the downside of not maintaining valuable diamond or precious gemstone jewelry. One should at least have them inspected from time to time. The fact that my son and I rebuild or replace 60 to 100 prongs a month is my proof of out of control epidemic prong wear.

My devoted customers know I never charge a cent to clean and inspect their cherished pieces.* It’s a service I have provided for over 40 years and during those inspections, current or future problems are addressed and noted. Not all worn prongs need immediate attention, but in the near future they certainly will. The simple adjustment or tightening of a bracelet or chain clasp can prevent total loss. A clasp that does not clasp is useless, and this includes earring security both pierced and un-pierced, loose



friction backs, stripped screw backs or relaxed clip backs are a sure sign of future earring loss.

Most multi-stone rings will need stone tightening and monitoring of prong wear and often require regular inspections to prevent loss. I suggest every six months or so.

Happy shiny people leave my store every day. Nothing is more beautiful than a squeaky clean diamond or gemstone ring or any piece of jewelry for that matter. Jewelry you have worn for years takes on a whole new look when cleaned and polished to sparkling perfection.

What I am about to say may offend or outrage most folks, so if you are of the faint of heart or easily outraged skip this paragraph.

The joy and rapture of happy, shiny clean jewelry can also include that daily wristwatch you wear. I don’t mean the inside, I mean the outside. I change what seems like a kazillion watch batteries a year and nothing is more disgusting than being handed a sweaty, skanky and sometimes hairy wristwatch encrusted with heaven knows what, for a simple battery change. I don’t know if I should put on a hazmat suit or if just a surgical mask and gloves will protect me. I simply pick up the hazardous timepiece with a pair of stainless steel tongs, head off to the steam cleaner and ammonia bath to sanitize, and hopefully render the watch biologically safe to handle. I then have to scrape away the years of questionable toxic layers to find the back cover of the watchcase to remove the dead battery. When did changing a watch battery become a hazardous archeological dig?

I’m not kidding about the tongs. I hold my nose and use them all the time to handle suspect zombie watches. There is a healthy remedy for the unsuspecting and naive toxic watch wearers!

I would appreciate if you could apply warm soapy water with a toothbrush and a really brisk scrubbing procedure before you hand that slimy science experiment (your cruddy watch) to my son or yours truly. I wholeheartedly thank in advance those of you that this normally unmentionable matter may unknowingly pertain to.

To all others who practice safe watch hygiene, and may have been emotionally disturbed by what you just read, I did warn you in the first sentence about the graphic content that followed! You may now run to your nearest wastepaper basket, sink or whatever is closest. Believe me, I have run to them on more than one occasion, especially after lunch.

*Please note you are welcome to take advantage of my hospitality services and I beg of you, don’t come in with overnight bags packed with every single piece of jewelry you and every living relative presently own to have cleaned and checked at the same time, we don’t have that kind of time. (Up to three pieces at a time is OK.) Plus, there is a nominal charge for full service boil out, cleaning and machine polishing of your fine jewelry. Please no silver service place settings or teapots, tableware, silver trays, candlesticks or silver plated bedside statues of Frank Sinatra or Elvis. Thank you in advance – Richard Alan, Master Goldsmith, who is obviously in dire need of a long vacation. (Soon grasshopper…very soon!)

Always remember…Excess in moderation!

Richard Alan is a designer/goldsmith and owner of The Harbor Goldsmith, and despite the construction at the Island Plaza is open for business Monday-Friday, 9:30 AM to 5:30 PM. He welcomes your questions and comments about all that glitters. For more information call 239-394-9275, email or visit

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