Last updateTue, 22 May 2018 10pm

24 Karat Corner: The summer intern speaks freely


Summer is half way through.  The beer aisle at my favorite liquor store is finally running out of those vapid light “summer” ales, the afternoon summer thunder storms are rolling in, and our summer intern has finally found her groove and is getting comfortable in the office.  Perhaps too comfortable.

In the late afternoons, as the South Florida summer heat and humidity takes its toll on my energy level, I often have a snack to go along with the half gallon of iced tea I need to get me through the day.

“Wow, is that like your fifth cookie already?” Amy asked as she stumbled into my office. “You really should watch what you’re eating!”

“Who’s asking?” I wanted to know. “The summer intern, or the kid who gets to go back to college in two weeks?”

With that, Amy smiled at me, took the last cookie on my plate, and walked out the door. We both knew the answer. Yes, I eat way too many cookies each day. And, yes, Amy gets to go back to college in two weeks and is feeling pretty good about herself.

Our industry faces many problems, and new hurdles always seem to be popping up. Speaking of which, have you seen the new lab-created diamonds? Talk about problems down the road! Check them out at the next trade you show attend. They are already available at your favorite findings house!

At a recent trade conference, one of the speakers explained that three quarters of the independent retail jewelry stores in the country are operated by folks who are 55 years of age or older. For anecdotal evidence, just think of all the stores you know personally and who is running them. And, unfortunately, 90% of them have children who have no plans to continue in the family business. Who can blame them? If Mom and Pop were successful in their shop (thanks to six days a week of being open 9 to 9, and even longer in December), then why shouldn’t their children look to find happiness outside the retail life?

Even our precious intern Amy, who spent the summer successfully working in all of our various departments, thinks she is headed to Wall Street or law school. So, where do we find the next generation of retail jewelers? And, who is going to train them? It appears the days of third and fourth generations of the same family learning on the job and then running the store in the future are a thing of the past.

Later this month, The 24 Karat Club will deliver a number of scholarships to people working in the retail jewelry industry to take courses to improve their technical or professional skills. Members of The 24 Karat Club nominated deserving individuals who demonstrated a commitment to developing their bench, sales, or managerial skills.

The retail jewelry store owners of tomorrow are most likely the people currently working behind the counter or benches today. But, they need the training and expertise to assure their success, and The 24 Karat Club is there with the scholarship money to make sure it can happen.

We, like many other companies, offer summer internships to give college kids a professional taste of the jewelry business, and we are hopeful that some might even consider a career in our industry. If your business is offering a summer internship next year, let us know and we’ll put the information on our website.

Next month you’ll read some of the inspirational stories about our scholarship winners, who will be announced at the 24K Club banquet held in conjunction with the SJTA Atlanta Show. We hold great hopes for their future success in our industry. If you or someone you know would like to be considered next year for a scholarship from The 24 Karat Club, please ask your favorite 24 Karat Club Member for details on the nomination process. You can find a listing of our membership at www.the24karatclub.org.

I hope I get to see you at the SJTA Atlanta Show. And, if you think I’m having too many cookies, feel free to say so! Even my intern had no problem telling me!

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 email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.