Last updateThu, 17 May 2018 7am

24 Karat Corner: Getting rough with the customers


Frankie is one of the most resourceful jewelers I’ve ever met. Her showcases are filled with unique items and things I never see anywhere else. No diamond stud earrings or straight row diamond bracelets in her displays, only one of a kind items that make her, and her store, special.  The last time I was in her place, she proudly showed me a platinum diamond and meteorite necklace.

So, when I dropped by her store last week for a visit, I couldn’t wait to see what new item she would dazzle me with. I was barely through the front door when she saw me and belted out, “Hey, when was the last time you handled some rough, uncut, loose diamonds?” Not surprisingly, we weren’t wasting time with the standard pleasantries.

“Funny you should ask, but I just came back from the Antwerp Diamond Bourse where I was up to my ears in rough,” I lied.

With that, she handed me a parcel paper with six colorless, dice-sized, octahedrals. “Is it even legal for you to have these?” I asked.  “And, what are you going to do with them?”

“You know the type of customers I have,” she began with what I knew would be a fascinating story. “A couple walked in to select a diamond for their engagement. And, they said they wanted to be involved every step of the way. ‘Great,’ I told them. ‘First we’ll pick out the center stone and then we’ll custom design a mounting for it.’ I picked out a loose stone from my box and started to describe it, and they interrupted me.

“‘But, this stone is already cut!’

“‘Of course it is! Rough diamonds aren’t much to look at, and we only mount finished stones.’ Then came one of the strangest requests I’ve ever gotten.

“‘We want to pick the rough diamond from which our stone will be cut!’

“Frankie,” I said, half-jokingly, “You’re a full service jeweler, why didn’t you offer to fly them to a mine and have them dig out the stone themselves?”

“Don’t think we didn’t discuss it!” Frankie answered. “But that didn’t seem to be the best use of their budget.

“You know how the menus at the cool places in town now tell you the farm where your pork chop was raised? So, now the kids today want to know every detail about where their diamonds come from. Anyway, I made a few calls and reached a cutter willing to send me these six stones on memo.  The kids are coming back later today to make their selection.  Want to sit in?”

I passed on the offer, and Frankie and I finally got around to exchanging pleasantries. She had just gotten back from a working vacation from two places I had never heard of. I can’t even begin to imagine what she brought back with her.

Frankie is a unique person with contacts and connections to the farthest reaches of the jewelry world. She’s the sort of super-hero jeweler for little girls who some day want to grow up to be jewelers themselves. 

I have no idea how one becomes a jeweler like Frankie. The things she knows, and knows how to find, can’t be taught in a classroom. Frankie developed these skills over a lifetime. The successful jewelers of tomorrow will need a broad, diversified foundation of knowledge in all aspects of the industry. Training and education take time, and the sooner you start, the more ground you can cover. To help you get started, The 24 Karat Club offers a broad array of scholarships for just about any kind of jewelry training and development. To find out more about our scholarship offers, and how you can be nominated for one, contact your favorite 24 Karat Club member. 

I called Frankie from the car a few minutes after leaving her store. I told her after her customer selects their stone, I’d swing by and pick one out for myself.  Don’t ask me why.

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..