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17 Jewelry Stories So Gross You Might Have to Hurl

'We draw the line at human flesh.'



INSTORE HAS A tradition of collecting and sharing the funny and far-fetched experiences of its readers, who have always been generous with their tales.

And despite the retail sector having faced unprecedented obstacles in the first half of 2020, or maybe because of that, we decided it’s time for a laugh or an eye roll.

We asked our Brain Squad and other sources for their best “gross-out” stories. Jewelry business owners and managers shared these unusual situations.

A TRIPLE ICK RATING. I once had a local and longstanding customer (another small business owner in our area) come in for a repair. He’s a commanding man of about 60, at the time. When I approached him, he told me that he needed our help soldering something that had broken, and then proceeded to pull his retainer right out of his mouth and put it into my hand! Ick. Ick. Ick.

YOU HAVE TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE. A very nice young woman asked me if I would build her a necklace with her unusual item. I intimated that I would be glad to make her happy. When she produced a dried, shriveled umbilical cord from her son’s birth the previous year, she said it would make the most beautiful necklace. We declined, as we draw the line at human flesh. Subsequently, the counters were cleaned to surgical standards.


ENOUGH SAID. I wish I could tell you about us gold plating a raccoon bone for a customer that was a veterinarian. This is a part of its anatomy that is his private parts. Cannot go there.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I SEE? Once a long, long time ago, a lady brought in a little jar of freeze-dried Walleye eyes. (For those not in Minnesota, the Walleye is our state fish and good eating!) Yes, eyes! She wanted two matched pairs made into earrings. So we picked out the “best ones” and put them in six-prong pearl type crown ear posts with epoxy. Customer is always right! But I have often wondered what would happen to those earrings if someone forgot to take them off in a nice hot shower!

DECISIONS, DECISIONS. Asked by phone if we did custom bear claw pendants. We said certainly. Were completely grossed out when the customer arrived with an entire leg of a black bear, stating, “I didn’t know which bear claw to choose.”

IT’S TIME TO COWBOY UP. A lady came in with her young son. The kid was dressed in a cowboy outfit. During the presentation of the jewelry, the kid looks down and spits on the carpet — you know, like a real cowboy. The saleswoman is rather shocked. The mother sees the spitting, looks back at the saleswoman and says, “Isn’t that cute?”

MEMO GOODS. One of our sales associates was showing a 3/4-carat diamond to a client in locking tweezers. She had put a bit too much pressure on the stone. As she was holding it up, the stone popped out of the tweezers and flew into the air. She was talking at the time and the diamond went right into her mouth and down her throat. She swallowed it. It took two days for her to “retrieve” it, but she did. No one wanted to touch the stone after that. Thankfully, the stone was on memorandum. We sent it back without telling anyone the story … was that wrong??

WARNING: THIS ONE IS REALLY BAD. The first time I witnessed the guys cut someone’s rings off was horrifying. I was called to the back as very much a greenhorn. They were gonna cut off a customer’s ring and wanted me to watch; I had told them I wanted to see all aspects of what they do. That being said, there I was at the counter making polite conversation with a lady in her mid 50s while the guys grabbed the tool off the rack. She told us that she was quite embarrassed and probably should have come in sooner, but she didn’t want “the damn hospital to ruin her rings.” That was apparently her next stop. She said she had managed to catch her hand in the door and it had swollen up. Now the part she didn’t mention until she pulled her arm up to expose the rings was that it had happened a week prior. Her hand was definitely swollen, but her fingers were black and the smell was so bad that I vomited in the trash can. The guys clipped the rings, cringing and somehow smiling the whole time. The customer said it felt better, even though I suspect she couldn’t feel anything at that point, and the swelling was not going down, neither was the color changing. I really hope she still has those fingers …

FROM BEYOND THE GRAVE. One time we helped a customer who wanted to restore her deceased daughter’s ring. She handed the ring to me and explained that she had had her daughter exhumed and the ring needed to be cleaned. So yes, the ring had been on her deceased daughter’s finger buried in the ground, and she now has handed it to me, discolored and filled with some substance? We cleaned it and handed it back and she put it back on her finger. I was in shock and grossed out for the rest of the day.


WHAT KIND OF STONE DID YOU SAY THIS IS? I once had a client hand me a stone and ask if I could drill a hole in it and attach a bail or jump ring for her chain. The stone drilled easily and was soft. I remember as it was being drilled it had a terrible strange smell. After it was completed, my client came to pick it up. She was very happy. I asked where she found the stone. She told me it was a kidney stone she had removed. I can handle gross stuff, but this was a first for me.

DO YOU THINK SHE’LL SAY YES? Drunk person came in and stood at the engagement ring case and urinated in his pants while he continued to ask to look at rings.

17 Jewelry Stories So Gross You Might Have to Hurl

WHERE’S THE TOE SIZER? Throwing their leg up on the counter to ask if we had toe rings.

WHAT’S A LITTLE BLOOD AMONG FRIENDS? One of my very best Southern Belle customers came in and pulled off her 2-carat diamond earrings. One of my sales associates held her hand out as she asked, “Oh, what’s the brown stuff on the back of your earrings?” and then in her slightly inebriated state, the customer replies, “Oh, I think that’s blood.” Upon those words, my associate completely whipped her hand up in the air, and as the giant diamond rocks go clattering across my showcase onto the floor, my customer raises her eyebrows and smirks, “Scared of a little dried blood are you darling?”

BEYOND REPAIR. My dad once opened up a watch back and it had a bunch of very small “things” moving around in it. He promptly closed it up, handed back to the customer with “nothing we can do for it,” and walked away to wash his hands.

LET ME OUT! Our jeweler found a live bug living underneath a ring inside a bezel setting.

HOT MESS. My wife took in a watch for cleaning the band. She inquired how it got all sticky. The gentleman farmer said he was in the process of inseminating his cows, lost it inside and had to go back in for it.

I’M SCREAMING INSIDE. It involved a client dropping a really nasty looking watch in my hand and then proceeding to tell me they had exhumed her mother to further examine her remains. Five months had gone by. If I recall correctly, it was some life insurance issue. Apparently digging up mom to justify a life insurance payout was an appropriate thing. In the meantime, I’m cupping this base-metal entry-level timepiece in my hand while totally deadpanning my internal but deafening screams.

Eileen McClelland is the Managing Editor of INSTORE. She believes that every jewelry store has the power of cool within them.



When There’s No Succession Plan, Call Wilkerson

Bob Wesley, owner of Robert C. Wesley Jewelers in Scottsdale, Ariz., was a third-generation jeweler. When it was time to enjoy life on the other side of the counter, he weighed his options. His lease was nearing renewal time and with no succession plan, he decided it was time to call Wilkerson. There was plenty of inventory to sell and at first, says Wesley, he thought he might try to manage a sale himself. But he’s glad he didn’t. “There’s no way I could have done this as well as Wilkerson,” he says. Wilkerson took responsibility for the entire event, with every detail — from advertising to accounting — done, dusted and managed by the Wilkerson team. “It’s the complete package,” he says of the Wilkerson method of helping jewelers to easily go on to the next phase of their lives. “There’s no way any retailer can duplicate what they’ve done.”

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