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David Geller

Can’t Find a Jeweler to Work for You? Here’s What You Should Do

Charge more, then pay more to solve your problems.

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There was a post on Facebook: “Can’t find a jeweler.”

They are not being trained, and because it doesn’t pay well to start, many opt for other careers. You can go to HVAC school for six months and earn $35,000 to $40,000 in year one.

My response:

  • The No. 1 problem is stores don’t pay high enough wages.
  • Stores don’t pay enough because they think they can’t afford someone because they don’t charge correctly. It’s a vicious cycle.
  • America pushes college. We need to think trade schools.
  • You should grow your own jeweler. School begins soon. No matter how much work you have, contact your local high school counselor and get a part-time teenager. Teach the person to polish your work.

Don’t argue! You should be producing $125 an hour, and because repairs include polishing, you are not charging extra to polish. So while you are producing $125 an hour, in the afternoons pay $10 an hour to have someone polish your work. You’ll net $115 an hour. Thirty days and he or she can polish virtually everything. You want to polish the $5,000 emerald, fine, but 90 percent is done by your new employee.

We had the high school kids then learn to invest and cast, then engrave. They took out trash, changed light bulbs and ran errands.

This will save you time, and just by having them polish things, you can tell if they might do well sitting at the bench. Start later training them to solder and size.

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We developed a few full-time jewelers this way.

In April/May I’d ask seniors, “So, are you working here for the summer or traveling before college?”

No matter what they said, I said, “You can’t quit.”.

“Sir, you can’t keep me here,” they’d say.

“Oh yes I can! You can’t quit until you bring in your replacement from school and train them,” I’d say.

Ninety percent of the time they did. They’d never bring in an idiot, but always a younger classmate they knew well, and they started the training. 

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I had the store 25 years.

I had a student for 18 of the 25 years. The other years, we were so busy that I had a full-time polisher.

Grow your own! (And have them polish for you.)

David Geller is a 14th-generation bench jeweler who produces The Geller Blue Book To Jewelry Repair Pricing. David is the “go-to guy” for setting up QuickBooks for a jewelry store. Reach him at [email protected].

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