Saturday, January 22, 2022

Some Things Are Not as They Seem

All That Glitters

Submitted Photo | Marco Island is Mayberry with sand.

In the wonderful world of the retail jewelry business, there are times when there is no choice but to be brutally honest. This is always the case when accepting jewelry for repair or watches for even a simple battery change.

For example, a gentleman wanted me to change a battery in his newly acquired “Rolex,” an automatic red flag! A new Rolex is not battery powered, they are automatically driven. He handed me the watch, and sure enough, you could have bought it on any given street corner in the Big Apple… for about 20 bucks! It was a “knock off,” or in layman’s terms, a fake! He said, “That’s not possible!” The watch had been presented to him as a retirement gift from the company where he worked for around a half a century. Ouch! Nice company to work for; Here’s a cheap $20 fake Rolex…Thank you for your 40 years of hard work and service.

The thing about Rolex watches is that there are millions of fakes out there being worn by folks who spend their lives (and hard-earned money) believing their watch is real until it stops running and they are then told the bitter truth. Denial, disbelief and a refusal to believe the truth lead to inclinations that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

If I take in a fake Rolex for a battery or strap repair, the person is notified of the fact that it is a fake and it is clearly marked on the repair envelope fake or knock off “Rolex.” If the customer refuses my diagnosis and considers it real, I won’t accept it for repair, and I tear up the envelope, end of story. Accepting it is a recipe for financial disaster, especially if they claim later that I “switched” what they believed was a real Rolex for a fake. Not on my watch! (No pun intended.) Believe me, people have tried to pull that fast one on me. I have yet to misdiagnose a fake from a real Rolex. I’m just saying.

The same scenario goes with a fake or substitute “diamond,” such as glass, zircon crystal, cubic zirconia, YAG or moissanite. Not detecting a worthless three- or four-carat sized piece of glass, and not letting the customer know of it, would put a jeweler out of business, especially if an employee incorrectly wrote the word “diamond” on the envelope. In a court of law, the unknowing or unscrupulous customer would most likely win that case. That could cost the jeweler $50,000 or more, out of his pocket.

I’ve had people storm out of the store and call me “out of my mind” (Sound familiar?) when they are told the awful truth about their supposed “diamond.” Once again, neither I, nor any employee, will ever write the words “diamond ring” on a repair envelope when it is not a real diamond.

I can recall numerous ugly experiences here on Marco when unknowing individuals were told the truth about their “precious diamond.” The reactions and replies I cannot mention here in print, just remember that phrase, “Hell has no fury like a woman scorned!” and you’ll get the gist of it.

It does become a daily experience. “You wrote down 14kt. gold, my ring is platinum!” Madam, it is clearly marked on the inside of the band that it is 14kt. white gold; it would be marked platinum if it were so. I explain that platinum is a very heavy metal and is a different color than white gold; this ring has neither of these characteristics, meaning it is gold. That was me being nice while explaining the difference… She still refused to believe me.

I don’t use platinum to repair a white gold ring. Besides the temperature to weld platinum is so intense, it would melt any gold on the ring into a puddle before the platinum even got near hot enough. That happens to be a proven fact, just ask any goldsmith. She refused to accept that fact, and I refused to accept the ring. Game over.

“You wrote down a gold plated (filled) chain. I bought that in Greece and paid a lot of money for it… its 22kt. gold!” The quality tag on the chain clearly says 22kt. gold filled, which means it is technically gold layered over copper or brass; it is not a solid gold chain and most likely not worth the money paid for it (which turned out to be a whopping $1,200 for a heavy gold-plated brass chain worth only $20. Ouch, yet again!) We can now call it an expensive souvenir!

So here we go again, I don’t know what I’m talking about, I must be mistaken, and the fact is, I’m out of my mind, yet again! I have been a practicing goldsmith for most of my life, I know what I’m talking about; it’s like convincing a butcher that a piece of cod fish is a veal chop!

Besides decades of personal hands-on experience, I have machines for my staff that detect precious metals. And then there is the old tried and true method, nitric acid, one just has to scratch the surface of the metal or piece of jewelry in question, add a small drop of acid and viola! If it bubbles violently and turns green… it’s junk; if it stays clear with little reaction, it’s gold. (Silver bubbles up and turns grey.)

The chain in question bubbled and turned bright green right before their eyes. He bought the truth, she did not… and they walked out arguing with each other. I swore I overheard the word “Idiot!” Was that directed at him or me? Oh well, at least this time I’m not out of my mind, I’m just an idiot. It’s just another day in the city of Mayberry with sand, aka Marco Island.

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