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David Geller

David Geller: Save That Scrap! Here’s How




With prices so high, don’t let flakes of gold float out the door!


 [dropcap cap=T]o minimize and recover waste as well as to prevent theft, establish standardized procedures in your shop and maybe even consider purchasing some new equipment.[/dropcap]

At a store I once visited, a jeweler’s bench had a mass of gold odds and ends on top. So I got a scale and cleaned off her bench and weighed it. She had accumulated over $6,000 of scrap waste — and that was when gold was $350 an ounce! Imagine its value today. In my father’s shop, each jeweler was given the same amount of sizing stock and round wire along with so many pennyweights of solder. Everyone had the same amount in a small box. It limited theft. The
vault had the remaining gold stock and only the shop foreman could hand out additional gold.

I’m not telling you to not trust your jeweler, but we are talking about valuables that can literally walk out the door — even stuck to the bottom of shoe soles.

In our shop, we had a typical tabletop polishing machine. It used a regular air conditioner filter. The polishing room walls were dusty, and we all had dirty nostrils. We’d send a 55-gallon drum in once a year and inside were polishing sweeps, dust from floors and the filters from the polishing machine. The drum would yield about $1,500.


A sales rep convinced us to get a heavy-duty stand-up polishing machine with great suction and burlap filters that cost $3,200. When the 55-gallon drum filled up, it yielded about $4,500, and the walls — and our noses! — were clean. Mind you, this was 1990, when gold was just $400 an ounce. Here are some tips to keep your sweeps and loose scrap from walking out the door:

[li] Have the jewelers sweep the bottom of their bench pans nightly and put it into a coffee can with a plastic top. Take that canister and pour it all into a main one that’s kept in the safe or your office.[/li]

[li]When a job is done, put all extra parts in an envelope and upon inspection by someone else, return them to the vendor for credit or place them into a findings cabinet. Label them for future use.[/li]

[li]Place all old parts (heads, catches, posts, etc) in the envelope in a Ziploc bag. Either return it to the customer or place those items in the coffee can in your office daily.[/li]

[li] Scan jewelers’ bench tops weekly and remove wasted, unusable items like rolled out stock or put them back in a central location.[/li]

[li]Assuming your shop has a smooth floor, when you sweep the area, the dust pan results go into that can as well, along with polishing filters and dust. This is sent separately from gold sweeps to the refiner. Don’t let more money walk out your door![/li]


David Geller is a consultant to jewelry-store owners on store management and profitability. E-mail him at [email protected]

[span class=note]This story is from the September 2011 edition of INSTORE[/span]

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