Columnists Howard Kelrick 24 Karat Corner - News and Views from the 24 Karat Club Southeastern U.S.

24 Karat Corner - News and Views from the 24 Karat Club Southeastern U.S.


Jeweler of the Year?

I had known Jerry for a number of years, but never met him personally, so when I was out west on an unrelated matter, I thought I’d rent a car, drive over a few towns, and see if I could turn this casual customer into a big hitter.  And besides, the boys back in accounting just love it when I come back from vacation with a few business expenses.

Walking into Jerry’s store, the first thing that greets you is the large sign that says “Absolutely No Returns”.  Now, I’ve  been to stores where, in order to put shoppers at ease and in the mood to buy, they actually spray specially designed fragrances to replicate the smell of home baked cookies.  I can’t imagine how Jerry’s sign ignites the buying passion of his shoppers, but now I was a bit hesitant about meeting my long-time friend and customer.

But, Jerry greets me warmly and ushers me to his back office where we exchange pleasantries, talk about the old days, and wonder in what other industry can two guys do business together for over 30 years, never having met face to face!

Then the phone rings, and Jerry says he has to take it, it’s his trade shop.  He puts the call on speaker phone so he can look through his files, and the trade shop tells him the cost of the job would be $600.  Jerry says thanks, and then without missing a beat, calls the customer, with me just sitting there.

“Mrs. Newman?  It’s Jerry.  I have the quote on your repair.  It’ll be $1295.” The nice lady on the other end, sounding surprised at the pricing, said she would pass on the job, and pick up her ring tomorrow.  Jerry said fine, hung up, and gave me that look of “What are you going to do?”

So, I asked Jerry why he didn’t bother to detail the work that was to be done in order to “justify” the pricing, and, I was curious as to what work he was doing in addition to the trade shop’s work.  Jerry’s answer caught me off guard.  “We’re not doing any work on the ring.  It’s all the trade shop, we keystone this type of work.  And, explaining the charges to the customer only confuses them, and makes us look expensive!”

I couldn’t leave this alone and asked him in this economy, with business so slow, and metal and stone prices so high, if maybe working on smaller margins would generate more business, increased “OK to do” rates on repairs and special orders, and build customer loyalty for when things get better?  Certainly today, making a little less on each sale is better than no sale at all and a lost customer!  And, now more than ever, detailing the work to be done, and how the charges are broken down will go a long way in helping customers deal with the pricing.

But Jerry wasn’t interested in hearing any of this.  After all, he’s been getting keystone plus on special orders for years!  As Jerry continued to outline his archaic pricing strategy, I began thinking to myself that, right or wrong, this guy wouldn’t be on anyone’s list for Jeweler of the Year!

And, that got me thinking of some of the wonderful Jewelers of the Year that I’ve met and known through The 24 Karat Club.  These are men and women who have been recognized for outstanding customer service, or have overcome some personal or professional adversity, or who have shown distinguished leadership in community service.  For over thirty years, The 24 Karat Club has recognized one such retail jeweler each year.  Nominations for Jeweler of the Year are made only by 24 Karat Club members, so if someone you know might qualify for this very prestigious award, please let one of your 24 Karat Club vendors know.

Jerry and I chatted a bit longer and then it was time for me to leave.  I knew Jerry would never be a big customer for me, or anyone else.  And, as I walked out past the “No Returns” sign, I thought, not a problem, I won’t be coming back anytime soon.

Howard Kelrick is President of Finger Mate and a board member of The 24 Karat Club, SEUS.  Finger Mate manufactures and installs expandable ring shanks and sells to retail jewelers throughout North America. Contact Howard at 954-458-2700 or e-mail This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .


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