I talk to jewelers all over the country and I hear some horror stories. Some of the most avoidable disaster stories are centered around the ultrasonic cleaner.
It seems like such a simple request. A customer comes in with a bunch of jewelry they want to have cleaned up. A dip in the sonic will do the trick. Some customers make a habit of having it done regularly. It’s not a big deal, well, until something goes wrong.
We all get so busy, our trade is all about fast production and doing everything to accommodate our clients. We need to take the time to follow procedures and remember the jewelry we are entrusted with should always be treated with care.
In my lifetime the industry has changed from being “all about quality” to “all about speed”. We equate being faster with higher productivity which equals more money. Then we hit that wall where the haste has caused some mistake that is vastly more expensive than a few extra minutes of payroll would ever cost us.
The first case in point is Mrs. A. She’s a delightful elderly woman. She’s been doing business with us for years. Once a year she shows up with a large bag of jewelry to be cleaned. This year was no different than any other, except she was in a hurry to drop everything off on her way to an appointment.
It was not a big deal. After all, she’d been doing this every year for several years. A dip in the sonic and everything will be bright and shining before she returned later that day.
She showed up right at the end of the day and was still in quite the rush, so she picked up her bag, and off she went.
The next day she called to see if we could locate one of her more expensive items which were not in the bag with the rest of her jewelry. No one recalled seeing the item in the store, but we searched anyway. It was nowhere to be found and we were fairly certain it was not in the bag she dropped off.
Mrs. A was distressed over the incident since she was fairly certain it was dropped off. A few days passed and Mrs. A grew more and more disturbed that something had happened to her precious, sentimental, and expensive piece of treasured jewelry while in our care. It was fortunate that she found it at her home and she dismissed the whole thing as just another incident of her failing memory.
Another case in point is Mrs. B. Her story is very similar to Mrs. A. She has been dropping off her bag of jewelry to be cleaned here on a regular basis for years. She was in such a hurry to drop and go, as well as, rushing to pick it up quickly and be on her way.
However, Mrs. B was not missing anything. The issue with her freshly cleaned bag of jewelry, so hastily pulled out of the sonic and given back to her, resides in that one ring that was sitting in the bottom of the sonic basket when her items were dumped in with it.
The jeweler had been working on it for hours and hours over the last couple of days. It was nearly complete and ready to have the flashing and heat shield from the laser work cleaned up. Some time in the ultrasonic gave the jeweler the opportunity to address a couple of other things that had been set aside while working on the ring.
Later when the customer returned to retrieve the ring, Mrs. B had already retrieved her jewelry, and it was long gone. Unfortunately, Mrs. B now had a new ring that the store owner is paying to rebuild for its rightful owner.
A good jeweler can replace the ring. It’s just hours of labor, some precious metals, some expensive gemstones, and a long delay in returning it to the customer. However, the damage to the store’s reputation for losing their customer’s wedding band coming in for a repair is a far greater price they will be paying for a much longer period of time.
Both of these incidents, as well as countless other incidents, would not have happened if the proper intake and delivery procedures were followed. Even when the job is something as simple as a routine cleaning, take those notes and photos of what you are receiving and delivering.
When you have salespeople and jewelers using an ultrasonic to clean jewelry, you may want to consider getting a second one so they aren’t using the same one. Everyone wants everything done fast, but every customer appreciates it more when you handle their precious items with diligent care.