Columnists Chuck Koehler The Retailer’s Perspective: It was broken when you brought it to me

The Retailer’s Perspective: It was broken when you brought it to me

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There is a phenomena that’s been around for thousands of years (or at least since 1978 when I started in the jewelry business).  It’s the ‘you ruined my jewelry’ syndrome.  Let me explain.

Let’s say your husband had $5,000 worth of love for you on your anniversary, but only spent say... $350.  That’s not to say he didn’t love you the other $4,650 worth as well, it’s just he’s... well, you know.  It’s also highly possible that somewhere along the line he might have actually looked at $5,000 pieces of jewelry and then miraculously found the exact same thing for - you guessed it - $350.  Then he might have also mentioned how long he’d been saving his pennies to buy you that perfect piece of jewelry.  He might have also said something about $5,000 retail... but he got it at a really good price.  But then he somehow forgets to tell you, that in reality, he still has most of those pennies set aside for something he loves even more than you... like a bass boat.

Okay now, for the record, I’m not talking about your husband, but look to your left and to your right.  See those other people?  It’s their husbands I’m really talking about... and how it affects me about 8 months later.  It goes something like this:

“Oh, hello Mrs. Morehead, how are you today?,” I’ll ask as she comes in to pick up the repair she left yesterday.

“Your ring is in the cleaner for another minute or so,” I’ll say as I ring up the $38.75 I charged her to repair her now broken anniversary present.

We’ll chit chat about the weather, “Sure is hot today.” We’ll chit chat about politics, “Sure is something about that health care legislation.” And then we’ll talk about me, “You’re still not seeing anyone?  A nice boy like you, you should....,” anyway, you get the point.  Then comes the inevitable when I hand her her ring, “What happened to my ring?” Uh oh, I know what’s getting ready to happen.

“How did my ring get so thin?  It didn’t look like that when I brought it in?”

Geez, just when you thought you’d never hear those 10 little words again... you hear them again.  This condition is known as the, “I’ve never actually looked at my ring before, but since you just worked on it, let me scrutinize it to death... for the first time ever!”

Yeah, I see everyone out there shaking your heads right now.  It’s happened to you just this week hasn’t it?

Through the years I’ve noticed that when jewelry is given as a gift, it’s just one part of an elaborate, important occasion, albeit the most important part I dare say.  There’s the anticipation, the planning, the candlelight dinner, the scrumptious desert, the elegant atmosphere, and then out comes the gift wrapped jewelry box.

The next morning in the glow of the morning sun, she sees the diamond scintillating, the gold sparkling, and she’s still giddy from all of the events of the previous day.

She’ll show and tell all of her girlfriends how thoughtful he was. Everyone loves all of the trouble he went to.  They love the jewelry he gave her.  Heck, they wish their husbands were just like him.  Then a couple of days later he’s in the doghouse for some unrelated incident and everything is back to normal again, for about 8 months.

Mrs. Morehead, while picking up her very expensive ring (she still remembers something about $5,000), wonders how an expensive ring like this could get so thin.  What did you do it?

Never mind the fact that it didn’t come from your store and this is your first encounter with Mrs. Morehead. Somewhere in the conversation she’ll say something to the effect of: “Well, can’t you just add some gold to make it thicker?  I don’t know why you didn’t just add some gold to make it thicker.”

Of course at $1,100 an ounce, I’m not giving much gold away these days.  Hell, come to think of it, I didn’t give much away when it was $400 an ounce either. But, that basically brings up the point I’m trying to make:  NOT getting married to repairs.

First and foremost, remember it was broken when they brought it to you. They didn’t bring you a perfectly good piece of jewelry and then you ruined it.  Someone didn’t spend near enough money in the beginning and now it’s broken - hence the visit to the jeweler.  Too many times I’ve seen and heard about customers that try and make us liable for something simply because we were the last person to touch it.  Yeah, I know he meant to spend more but he didn’t and I can’t make it something it’s not... nice.

It’s a touchy situation and no two situations are the same, but I equate it to trying to tell a woman that her engagement ring is not a real diamond before I take it in for sizing and her best friend is standing right beside her and neither one knows.  It’s a difficult conversation to have with anyone, telling them they have a piece of crap now, and when I finish with it, it will still be a piece of crap, albeit a repaired piece of crap.  But if I’ve learned anything in this business, it’s easier to have that conversation when you’re taking in a repair than to have it ‘after you’ve ruined it.’

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. You can contact him at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

 
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