Dealing with the public is always a challenge. People often feel the need, standing in my jewelry store, to open up to me about their vast knowledge of all things jewelry. And on average, only about 1 in a 100 people get it right. Oh, who am I kidding? It’s probably more like 1 in 10,000. Here’s a few things I’ve heard recently that just leave me shaking my head.
“Did you know that Moissanite is more valuable than diamonds?”
I couldn’t help myself. I just had to agree with her and tell her that I thought that exact thing as well. She then went on and on about how she loves to watch jewelry TV and how knowledgeable the hosts are on that channel. I told her that I thought that exact thing as well and that’s why I watch it all the time too (which I don’t). She told me how much she’s learning about jewelry by just watching it all the time. I just agreed with her.
Then, she proceeds to tell me so many wrong things in rapid succession that I just stood there, shaking my head in agreement, dumbfounded. And then, she asked me if I was hiring because she would love to work in an actual jewelry store where she could put all of her knowledge to use every day. That’s where I stopped agreeing. I just don’t have the years left to try and reprogram someone. And, all of this was while she was there to get a watch battery installed.
Then, of course, several times a year I get the customer that just bought an expensive piece of jewelry on a cruise because it’s so much cheaper down there. This one comes in and needs to have her new ring sized just a little bit because it’s a half size too small. It went something like this.
“I need to have my new ring sized up a half a size. Can you do it while I wait?”
Two things here that always rankle me; How does she know it’s only a half size? And yes, I’ll absolutely do it while you wait, somewhere else, for a couple of hours while I finish up whatever it was I was working on when you came in. But, I digress.
She then goes on to tell me that she was just on a cruise and bought it at a very reputable jewelry store at one of the ports of call in Mexico.
Danger Will Robinson! Danger Will Robinson!
I’ve got red flags flying all over this customer interaction and I haven’t even seen the ring yet, she’s still digging it out of her purse. And, I might add, she’s digging it out of a knock-off designer bag that looks pretty new. She probably bought that on the cruise too. Oh look, one of the buckles on the side has already come loose. Then she finds her new ring. Oh dear, run Forrest run!!!
She shows me a ring that even Walmart wouldn’t sell. I didn’t want to touch it because I was scared I’d break it just by holding it. I sure as heck don’t want to work on that thing. She goes on and on about how the bright green gemstones in it are very rare – get ready for it – an unintelligible combination of made up letters with an ‘ite’ on the end of it, gemstones. I don’t really remember what she said, but it sounded something like Moekeanite. A very rare gemstone only found on the Yucatan peninsula, she informs me.
She says Moekeanite, I say irradiated quartz. Hell, the stones were still warm and vibrating from being in the nuclear reactor. Anyway, I already know I’m going to charge her more to size it than she paid for it because I can see that about half of the Moekeanites are gonna fall out in the process.
I get out my mandrel and ring sizers while she’s telling me that she’s a size 5 ½ and the ring is a 5. Well guess what? The ring is a 6, and she wears a 7 ½. You know what happens next. She says there must be some mistake because she’s always been a size 5 ½ and wants me to double check because I must be mistaken because the very reputable jewelry store she bought it at said it was a 5, and also that I was charging her more to size it than she paid for it.
I told her that shipping a ring to Mexico was very easy today and she should just send it back to the very reputable jewelry store and they would do it for free.
So, did I handle that situation correctly? I don’t know. I mean I was very nice to her throughout the process, but I do know this; if I would have worked on that ring, I would have been held responsible for it falling apart later on and I didn’t want that responsibility. It wasn’t the fine piece of handcrafted jewelry that they told her it was, and somebody pulled a fast one on her. I didn’t want to be a part of her journey when she discovers that, because it’s not going to end well.
And, when she finds out how complicated it is to ship the ring back to the store in Mexico, she’ll probably just put it in her jewelry box and think happy thoughts about her vacation when she sees it again.
Then, a little later that same morning, a nice young lady came in with a ring that she said she had inherited from her aunt. She said it was a little too big and wanted to know if I could size it for her. I told her I could, and I got my ring mandrel and sizers out again. She just stood there quietly while I sized her finger and the ring. The ring was a 6 and she was a 5 ½. I told her it would be $45 and she could pick it up after 4:00 that afternoon. She said that would be wonderful and pulled out her credit card and said she would go ahead and pay for it now.
While I was running her card, she said she thought the ring was pretty but didn’t know anything about it, at which point I told her what I knew about it. It was 14KYG with very nice diamonds and sapphires and it was very popular in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s. I told her it was very well made, in like new condition, and a very, very nice piece of jewelry. She signed the digital credit card receipt, said thank you, and told me she would see me around 4:00.
See, I have normal customers too. It’s those other ones I struggle with.
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 email@example.com.