Thursday, January 20, 2022

You are what you wear

A blast from the past... a ladies imitation blue star sapphire ring.

A blast from the past… a ladies imitation blue star sapphire ring.

Years ago I wrote a story about how I could roughly figure a customer’s personality by the kind of watch they might wear. I got many chuckles and bent a few noses out of joint regardless of the fact it was mostly true.

And you know what? The same can be seen by the jewelry one wears also. Jewelry personifies sophistication, class or practicality, and let’s not forget ostentatious or downright gaudy. Being in the business, I admit my wife and I do enjoy wearing some of the examples of our trade, but some of our colleagues in the business never seem to know when enough is enough. The annual convention in Las Vegas comes to mind where some of the jewels that jewelers’ wives (and or girlfriends) wear would put Liz Taylor or Liberace to shame.

A woman entered my humble shop a few years ago and at first glance I knew this was going to be a memorable encounter. I greeted her with a friendly “Good Morning” and she grunted, “I’m just looking, but be around when I need you!”

She was dripping in what appeared to be diamonds, big stone rings on every available digit and her wrists layered with more sparkling bracelets than I had in stock. I lost count of the chains and pendants flashing around her neck.

OK, one should not judge a person by their appearance (or is that just a book?) but I have made my living working with the public for over forty years so have acquired certain skills and I retain both important and useless data about the complexities of the not-so human race.

The sight before me was wearing the optimum allotment of make-up and a fog of cheap throat-gagging perfume, and her coiffure resembled that of Mary Tyler Moore. To top that off, she wore a patent leather outfit. (It was summer for crying out loud!) She completed the outfit with a matching imitation Gucci bag. I was seriously wondering if I was being “punked.” I didn’t notice any film crews, but when I did closely focus on all the “ICE” that adorned this shrine of a woman it hit me in a microsecond… There before me in full regalia was a genuine “Cubic Queen”!

This woman was awash in cheap, inexpensive gold plated cubic zirconia – better known as fake diamonds! After ten minutes of snickering at my shop’s inventory, she asked me if I carried Cartier. I answered politely, “No, but I’m positive the Cartier store in Naples does.”

“What about Tiffany?”

“While you are in Naples, try the Tiffany store there as well.”

She then asked me if I carried Rolex watches. Nope, never have, doubt I ever will. She spewed disappointment while browsing, asking prices here and there, and saying that everything was “Too expensive!” She was obviously not impressed with my level of merchandise and finally, after what seemed like an eternity, she sashayed out the door in a huff, majestically climbed into her beat up four-door ten-year-old Hyundai, and was off.

Wow! This one is easy to analyze! She was in the market for Tiffany and Cartier? And wanted to see Rolex watches? Are you kidding me! Besides acting high and mighty she was rude and downright pretentious and she thought she was fooling the world, trying to impress us with fake glitter that isn’t worth a hill of beans. She was a walking, talking nugget of “fool’s gold” trying to hide her insecurities with fancy, fake baubles and knock-off clothing. This one’s neuroses ran deep.

Helping men are in the market for jewelry for their loved ones is a short joyful experience, but men buying jewelry for themselves is by far the hardest sell in my business. It’s too big or too small, too wide or too narrow, too flashy, not flashy enough, too expensive or not expensive enough. I could have a thousand gents’ rings, bracelets or chains in stock and not have one thing they are even remotely interested in buying. I’ll deal with women any day of the week

Men in jewelry stores… some guys just stand there like a deer in the headlights, I admit I know the feeling, experienced it the last time I stood in a Victoria’s Secret.

So one afternoon, in walks the second coming of Elvis with black hair like fiberglass and a sprayed on tan wearing more 70s-style chunky gold nugget jewelry than I have seen in a lifetime.

“What you all got in my style of gold jewelry?” My reply: “Honestly sir, not a thing.”

Once in a blue moon, a customer walks in and wants to know where the nugget jewelry is located. I first ask where

Richard Alan

Richard Alan

they are from. It‘s always somewhere in Texas, Arizona, or beautiful Las Vegas, Nevada. My answer is always, “Go West, young man!” —and while you are out there you can check out some Native American silver and turquoise jewelry—yet another jewelry fashion statement you can’t give away on Marco Island.

Speaking of Native American jewelry: this, incidentally, is another thing I never carry mainly because ninety-percent of it is made in either Hong Kong or India! “Genuine” imitation simulated “Indian” jewelry. I’m not kidding!

Nugget jewelry wearers are usually the outdoors type. They drive enormous pick-up trucks with gun racks or gigantic Hummers with boat hitches that have their own zip codes, hunt and fish on the same day at least three times a week, and only like the indoors if it’s a gambling casino of some kind.

Folks who actually wear authentic American Indian jewelry are true individuals.

When at our condo in Arizona, my wife and I enjoy the Scottsdale lifestyle, only there everybody wears Native American jewelry, from the toddler to Great-Grandma. The guys all wear huge turquoise rings and belt buckles. Some sport silver spurs to boot! These people are genuinely friendly, outgoing, and most own and ride horses. They truly love animals,

(Nugget jewelry wearers also love animals in a gastronomic kind of way, especially when served in an all-you-can eat buffet at some the casinos they hang out in.)

Surprisingly a lot of guys are in their element and are well informed about the complexities of jewelry buying. Just this season in entered a gentleman who I knew didn’t have a clue about jewelry. He was inquiring about a type of ring that went out of style more than thirty years ago: the infamous Linde’ star sapphire. You baby boomers must remember it – the oval or round man-made blue or red gem with the bright white star in the center that moves with the light.

Believe it or not, I have dozens of loose star sapphires in my safe that I have accumulated over the decades. I offered to put something together for him.

“No, No I need it now! Don’t you have any in the case set up?” Sarcastically I said if I did they would be in the same showcase with the gold plated “Mood Rings” and digital analog watches with white leather go go straps.

All my explaining that there is absolutely no demand for such a thing fell on deaf ears: he was in fact the first inquiry in over twenty years Of course, he was wearing a large blue Linde’ star in white gold on his ring finger!

My analysis? Has this guy been living in a sub-terrain bomb shelter for the past thirty years or what? I found out it’s been that long since he’s been in a jewelry store. He reminded me of my grandfather—proud, practical and the word no is never an option. Pa was downright stubborn to change.

Mr. “Gotahavitnow” said he would continue looking elsewhere, and out the door he went on a fool’s mission. He would have better luck locating an eight-track music tape player with the soundtrack of “Grease.”

One gentleman had me puzzled about his personality. Around his neck was a heavy gold chain and hanging from it was a crucifix, a Star of David, and a Muslim crescent moon! Talk about having all your bases covered when you meet Saint Peter or whoever is guarding the Pearly Gates!

I admit, many times I’m wrong about my original assumptions and sometimes I’m dead-on. All joking aside, I love our simple Southwest Florida jewelry styles that invoke our sea life and wildlife themes. I’ll keep making simple easy to wear, contemporary designs, mixing diamonds and pastel colored gemstones for my deserving clientele. It has worked for me here for over 15 years.

These past few months, with the economy the way it is, there has been a new cast of characters to write about. So, don’t take offence if I seem to psychoanalyze you while you are in my shop standing there wearing a simple diamond palm tree pendant and Jimmy Buffet flip flops, with beach bag in your hand. You’ll see I’m totally impressed with your personality because of your exquisite simplistic jewelry. It oozes class and good taste and that’s also fun to wear!

Remember to be kind to your local goldsmith.

“The tongue hath no force when gold speaketh.” Guazzo

Richard Alan is a master goldsmith/designer with over forty years of experience at his craft and the owner of The Harbor Goldsmith’s on Marco Island where he and his staff have been creating and repairing fine jewelry for over 15 years he welcomes your questions about things that glitter. 239.394.9275

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