Last updateWed, 19 Jun 2019 1am

The Retailer’s Perspective: WBYCEIYDBO

If you have the bad fortune of having a CarMax in your immediate area, you already know what this means - and you’re probably pretty tired of hearing it. If you don’t know what this means, it’s a very annoying TV commercial that means: ‘We’ll buy your car even if you don’t buy ours’. That makes me wonder, why can’t we have some WBYCEIYDBO codes in our industry?

About a million years ago, when I got into this business, every single diamond paper you would see had a series of pricing codes on them. Every time the diamond changed hands, the new owner would scratch out the old price code and write in the new price code. It wasn’t uncommon for there to be 30-40 codes written all over the diamond paper. The funny thing is, I never understood the code, no matter how many times it was explained to me. I guess my brain just doesn’t process $$$$s that well. So, why can’t we develop a secret code system just between us? And by ‘us’, I mean the front of the house and the back of the house.

Just like a customer would never know the cost on a diamond because it was written in a secret code, customers would never know what we were saying to each other about their jewelry. I think it would go something like this.

WHTT - We had the talk.

Basically, this means: The customer knows it’s a piece of junk and we won’t look at it under a microscope when you’re done. Just do the best you can.

This should be an industry standard! As a shop guy, if a customer comes in to have me size a ring that they bought elsewhere, I’m going to point out every single thing that could possibly go wrong during the sizing process. Salespeople won’t do that. I think the problem, in part, is the mind-set of the different disciplines. Salespeople, as a rule, are much nicer to customers than bench jewelers are. Salespeople are trying to make a sale, not quash one. Salespeople will say things like, “What a beautiful piece of jewelry.” Bench jewelers, knowing what could go wrong, will say things like, “This is total crap.”

But, if you have to have a conversation about the quality of someone’s piece of jewelry, and yes, you’re probably going to have that conversation, it’s much better to have it on the front end before you’ve taken it in. Nothing good has ever come from having ‘the talk’ after something has gone terribly wrong. If you have the talk right up front, everyone lays their cards on the table, and the customer accepts total responsibility for anything that could happen. It’s no harm, no foul if something goes wrong. Now I’m not saying don’t take it in, I’m just saying cover yourself up front.

Here’s an example of something I do constantly.

When a customer brings in a sterling ring for sizing, we have the talk. Because I don’t know anything about where this ring came from, I just assume something is going to go wrong. And, if I don’t have the talk first, I could be on the hook for hours and hours and hours trying to fix something that fell apart just because it was manufactured poorly. I tell them that I can’t control how the plating is going to react, and the color may change. I tell them I can’t guarantee that my work will be invisible and they might see some cracking and discoloration where I did the work, but that will be on the bottom and not real noticeable. I mention that if any stones fall out, I’ll probably just glue them back in. About 99% of the time, they say something like, “It was only $40, so go ahead. It’s just a fun ring.”

Then, when they come in to pick it up, they are simply happy that it fits. If nothing went wrong, I look like a hero. If several things went wrong, I don’t look like a zero. They knew it could happen and were willing to accept the risks. WINNING!

SIBIIAN - Send it back if it’s a nightmare.

If I was to ever see this on a job envelope, it would thrill me. This would signal to me that a store is not willing to be responsible for something they didn’t sell and they are not willing to get married to it. It would mean, if you think something bad could happen, just send it back and we’ll have an in-depth conversation with the customer first. Then, the next time I see this job, there will be a ‘WHTT’ written on the envelope.

As a long time bench jeweler, I have been called a magician thousands of times for my ability to do things that a mortal jeweler couldn’t do. But with most of the stuff that is being sold online these days, no bench jeweler can be that magical. And believe me, just when you think junk jewelry couldn’t get any worse, someone develops a new technology that makes it cheaper, thinner and more horrible! If you don’t believe me, just ask any bench jeweler. But, I make it a point to avoid these situations by having the talk right up front.

The point I want to stress to store management is this, if you have zero responsibility in a piece of jewelry, let us know. If a customer just brought it in for sizing or repair, and you didn’t sell it, let us know by putting the code SIBIIAN. It will save everyone a lot of headaches in the future.

MBCDWIT - My best customer, do whatever it takes.

Every bench jeweler would like to see this. It sends a clear signal that our $18 price for sizing this ring is being thrown right out the window. You are authorizing us to spend as much of your money as needed to do the job right. Whatever it takes to make it right, just do it! And, for the record, I’ve only had one store that had this policy with me, and they are no longer in business. Go figure.

Who’s with me? Who thinks we should develop our own secret WBYCEIYDBO codes? My e-mail is right there below, shoot me some suggestions.

And, just a note for all the laser peeps out there, I hope to see you at the laser training seminar in Nashville on July 27th and 28th. Bring the kids and make a vacation out of it. Nashville is a great town to visit for a couple of days.  Just Google ‘Jewelers laser training Nashville’ for info.

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. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.