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The Big Survey 2018:
You, the Jeweler

You're working harder these days, and you've got some crazy stories to tell.

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You’ve barely aged at all in the last few years, although you are now more likely to be seen wearing high heels and a skirt. You also still work long hours (probably too long) and you’re often the life of the party, thanks partly to your oddball customers.

 

39. What is your gender?

COMMENT: The number of women owners or managers has been steadily rising since we started doing these surveys more than a decade ago. The first time we specifically asked about gender, in 2009, the split was 65/35. For the record, 43% of the thriving jewelers were women, suggesting they are outperforming their male counterparts. That said, it should be noted that male-owned stores overall tend to be older and thus the owners are often comparing those last two years against a historical record that goes back decades.

 

40. A question just for the men: Check the types of jewelry you regularly wear:

Wedding band
80%
Watch
79%
Second ring
43%
Bracelet
39%
Chain
34%
Pendant
17%
Crucifix
10%
Earring
8%
Third ring
6%
Bangle
3%
Other
5%

NOTE: Among the other jewelry cited: cufflinks, tie tacks, tie chains, medical pendants, Star of David pendant, eyeglass chains, and a 3-carat solitaire diamond wedding ring.

 

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41. How many hours do you typically work a week?

Less than 30
Overall
3%
Thrivers
3%
Strugglers
15%
30-39
Overall 15%
Thrivers 15%
Strugglers 22%
40-45
Overall 22%
Thrivers 25%
Strugglers 12%
46-50
Overall 23%
Thrivers 20%
Strugglers 22%
51-60
Overall
22%
Thrivers
24%
Strugglers
22%
61-70
Overall 9%
Thrivers 8%
Strugglers 12%
More than 70
Overall 13%
Thrivers 14%
Strugglers 14%

COMMENT: Perhaps not surprisingly there was no direct correlation between hours worked and performance. While the strugglers tended to be over-represented at the lower end of the band, they were also among the jewelers putting in the longest hours (16% of the strugglers were working more than 60 hours a week compared to 12% for the thrivers). Overall, just about everyone was working hard: 58% of the survey respondents reported working more than 45 hours a week.

 

42. How old are you?


COMMENT: We’re guessing most of you think the ’70s was the best period for music. 1960 was the most popular birth year for jewelry store owners, followed closely by 1961 and 1965.

 

43. Entrepreneur’s psychology test: On a scale of 1-5, rate yourself (5 would mean you have a lot of this quality or trait):

Comment: In every field except one, the thrivers rated themselves more highly than the strugglers. That one exception? IQ.

 

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44. Skills test: On a scale of 1-5, rate yourself (5 would indicate the highest skill level):

Comment: It’s marginal but interesting: Thrivers claim to be better at sales and numbers, and strugglers to be better jewelers.

 

45. When you’re at a party or just out and about in your community, do you have a humorous way of describing what you do?

  • I sell changes in attitude.
  • When meeting a customer’s husband for the first time, I introduce myself: Hi, I’m your wife’s jeweler, and now I’m yours!
  • I sell old rocks and metals.
  • I play with fire and get paid well for it.
  • Trouble Specialist – I help women get into trouble and men get out of it. (Thanks, Mike Buley of Jewelry Ads That Work.)
  • I’m the woman’s best friend and the guy’s, too!
  • I make pretty things from dinosaur poop.
  • I run a geriatric preschool.
  • I run a non-profit.
  • I tell people I’m not in tech (local joke).
  • Women love me and husbands hide from me!
  • I generally say I work for her for golf (“her” is wife).
  • I say “I’m in the Coal Business” (which used to be a major industry in our area). It brings about a start in conversation as to how can I possibly be in the coal industry and have any success if it’s dead in our area.
  • I make everything … except a living.
  • What do you do for a living? I reply, “I have guys give me money to help make their women happy. And sometimes women give me money to make their guys happy!” I get very odd looks and then I tell them I sell diamonds.
  • I always say I make a living making women’s dreams come true.
  • I’ll say, “Yes, I’m Theresia that Triv always talks about.” (Our radio personality that we advertise with).
  • Therapist. I promise them they will at least get to first base if they come shop with us.
  • If they can’t get past first, they need to go see a licensed therapist.
  • Santa Claus for thousands of women.
  • (At a female social gathering) I am the best diamond whisperer your old jewelry ever met. With a group of guys (golf outings) I’m the girl you need to see when you need some wife insurance!
  • Slingin’ bling.
  • “I sell jewelry and jewelry accessories.” (In a Hank Hill voice)
  • I’m a noble metal craftsman.
  • I take little pieces of the ground, put ‘em together, make ‘em pretty, and sell ‘em.
  • Second-oldest profession. How do you think you paid for the first?
  • I sell stuff that makes people sparkle.
  • I say I sell sentiment transmitters.
  • Usually when a man is complaining about his sex life, I let him know I can help with that.
  • I’m a bedroom heating specialist.
  • I work for divorce lawyers. “As a paralegal?” No, I sell wedding rings!
  • I get called “The Jewelry Lady” a lot. One customer’s children liked to call me “Ms. Shiny.”
  • I’m a “trinket peddler” or “professional tempter.”
  • I sell the family jewels.

 

46. Do you have a story that could have ended with this quote … “And I would have gotten away with it too, if it weren’t for you meddling jewelers”?

A customer tried to minimize the value of jewelry in a large estate to cheat the other heirs out of their due value. Our appraisal thwarted that plan!

The husband-to-be who gave his fiancee a CZ (bought elsewhere) who brought it to me to be sized and of course I tested it for the repair envelope. She was angry. He threatened to sue me. He lost a bride-to-be with a seven-figure income. She is a regular client now.

Man buys girlfriend a large diamond ring and gets a smaller one just like it for his wife. Wife comes in to get her ring sized and so does the girlfriend (at the same time) and then the man comes in to pay for sizing and the girlfriend says, “Oh honey, I love my ring” and shows it off. Wife sees the bling and tells me not to size hers as he is buying her a really big ring. Later he comes back and tells us he is planning on taking us to court for causing him to be sued for divorce because we should not have had them both in at the same time. It is all our fault.

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Two associates were in the store bathroom discussing a certain customer’s recent purchase for his girlfriend while they were in the stalls. When they walked out to wash their hands, his wife had overheard everything since she was in the bathroom first. Waah, waaanhhhh. Needless to say, he was furious.

I set up a sting and caught a girl who stole a ring from another jeweler in town.

Had a gal come in with three nice diamond rings and wanted insurance appraisals. I had her come back in several hours. She was a flight attendant who had her car broken into at the airport on her last flight. I had another lady call me and asked if so-and-so had brought in her rings (and described them) for an insurance appraisal. I said yes. She then told me that she was going to turn those in on her insurance claim for her car that was broken into. I called the insurance agent and let him know. I’m sure she was not very happy with me.

State’s witness, fraud trial. Genuine vs fake.

There was someone selling heavily plated gold, rotating around all the jewelers in the area. For some reason, I was the only one who caught on. I got the entire crew arrested.

A customer had a Rolex stolen. It showed up in a store in a city quite a distance from ours. The owner of the store called us when our town was mentioned to ask if this watch had been reported stolen. Gave us the model number and sure enough it had belonged to a customer who thought she lost it at the Y.

I had a gal come in with a brand new “honking” diamond engagement ring, not purchased from us but needing it to be sized. No way was it a diamond — CZ in sterling silver. She told me it was worth $35,000. I told her it was CZ and silver. She didn’t believe me. I told her to look at it under the microscope at the stamp and we’ll use the diamond tester. She called her fiance right after we did all that and broke up with him. He called me up and told me I shouldn’t have meddled! No way was I touching that hot mess!

I feel that the Diamonds International salespeople are saying that every time I appraise something that was bought on a cruise from Diamonds International.

Sure. The guy fooling around on his wife who bought an item for the girlfriend but like an idiot gave us the home phone number to call when it was done. Made two sales off this guy!

The day I had to tell a young lady that the center stone in her ring was not a diamond. I am sure her ex-fiance would have said, “And I would have …”

 

47. What’s the weirdest complaint you’ve had about your service or jewelry?

  • We polished a wide wedding band to new condition after sizing it and the customer was furious. She said she didn’t want to appear newly wed.
  • I wouldn’t clean this lady’s gold teeth while they were in her mouth.
  • We didn’t offer them a sandwich.
  • Customer: “What? I ran over it with my car and it’s not covered by your warranty? Don’t you stand behind your product?”
  • I could not solder a faucet.
  • A customer complained that her diamond had not grown over the five years since she bought it.
  • Customer: “The electricity in my body stops watches I buy from you. You must do something to them.”
  • She didn’t like the reflection that her ideal-cut diamond created on her car dashboard as she drove on a sunny day.
  • A lady brought in a watch for a battery replacement that was wrapped in a tissue and placed inside a small sandwich bag. When she returned for the watch, she complained that we had thrown away her Ziploc bag. We offered her a smaller bag that we put extra links in but she refused. She wanted her Ziploc bag back.
  • That we could custom make body jewelry but would not perform the installation.
  • “You’re too happy.”
  • It’s easier to get in touch with the Pope.
  • You switched my diamond for a better one.
  • Why can’t I dirt bike with my platinum diamond engagement ring on?
  • I was scary looking.
  • I wouldn’t honor a lifetime battery for a woman who brought in her deceased husband’s watch. I said it’s a lifetime guarantee of the watch or owner, whichever comes first.
  • I did not put radioactive material back on the watch.
  • My honesty makes it hard for them to spend money in my store because I don’t upsell them.
  • That I couldn’t appraise a crown. (The kind that’s worn on a head).
  • Customer wanted to know if we “price-matched.” She was looking at a mini-flashlight. Price was $4.95.
  • There’s a charge?
  • Earrings exploded.
  • It’s too sparkly and makes the other jewelry look bad in comparison.
  • Customer: I need to exchange this ring bought five years ago but I want an identical one. Me: Why? Customer: Because my priest says it’s cursed so I want the same style, same price, but different diamonds and gold.
  • It wasn’t free for old people.

 

48. Please complete the following … I knew I’d made it when …

  • My daughter wanted to work here.
  • I sold a $10,000 sapphire sight unseen over the phone to an established customer.
  • The mayor dedicated a day of the year in our name.
  • My customer base exceeded 5,000.
  • I got my store name printed on our plastic bags, our ribbon and our tissue paper.
  • My accountant said I have net worth and should make a will.
  • I could retire.
  • My stress level dropped to zero.
  • I hit my first million-dollar store.
  • Dad said he was proud of me.
  • I see my work around someone’s neck or on their finger and I see them show off their jewelry and point to me and tell the other people, “She is the one that created this for me.”
  • A four-day work week.
  • I consistently started selling 2-carat diamonds and larger.
  • I drove home my brand-new Porsche.
  • I bought my Escalade.
  • Everyone wanted my job.
  • I bought my building.
  • When I heard the sleigh bells on the rooftop.
  • I stopped getting a tax refund.
  • I can take a vacation.
  • I was at a local restaurant and ran into a client. She began to sing the store’s jingle from our radio ads.
  • I reached my goal of a million dollars cost in inventory with no debt ever.
  • I pay my parents more than they have ever made in their lives not to come to work.
  • I was no longer concerned with December’s numbers. It’s not that I don’t care. I just don’t worry about it. Pay for your inventory during the year and you will have a relaxed December!
  • An engagement ring client said our store had been around his entire life and of course he was coming here to buy!
  • My customers and people I don’t know tell me how good of a jeweler I am.
  • I was sitting across the boardroom table from Nicholas Oppenheimer at the CSO in London.
  • I heard the hammer fall on an empty chamber.
  • I don’t need to be in the store and sales happen and customers are happy.
  • I quit advertising and sales continued to go up.
  • We made it past our first 10 years in business.
  • I no longer did more wholesale than retail.
  • Customers were coming in from three states away.
  • I finished this survey.
  • My competitors came to visit our new store.
  • I didn’t have to worry about the rent.
  • The first year I had to pay taxes on the store profits!
  • I could afford to blow 100 bucks on dinner.
  • I saw the logo stamp.
  • New England Patriots come in my store for jewelry.
  • Big-name brands I couldn’t get to take my calls suddenly started calling me.
  • A local charity expected us to make a 6-figure donation.
  • People started handing me their jewelry in the grocery store to bring in for repair.
  • At a recent shi-shi charity fundraising event, four of the high-profile attendees are clients in the middle of big projects.
  • She put her hands on her hip and said to him, well.
  • When people introduce me as Rosanne from the jewelry store.
  • Gold prices went to $1,800 per ounce.
  • I survived 2010.
  • They were actually sad at my funeral.
  • I wake up smiling because I get to come to work. I’m unemployable anywhere else and I love (mostly all of) it!

Over the years, INSTORE has won 76 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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Big Survey

Big Survey: How Many Women Make More Than $150,000 in Retail Jewelry?

For the most part, men are the higher earners.

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FOUR IN 10 independent jewelry stores in America are now run by women according to the 2018 Big Survey. However, for the most part, it is the men who continue to be the highest earners, with 80 percent of the jewelers making $150,000 or more a year being male.

A part of this discrepancy can be explained by the fact that many of the women owners and managers are relatively new to the industry and their stores have yet to reach the scale that rewards their owners so handsomely. In 2009, the first time we specifically asked about gender, the split between male and female owners was 65/35.

It’s also undeniable that women face bigger hurdles in business, whether it’s accessing credit, being accepted in business networks or just operating in a still male-dominated field.

Having said that, the women jewelers in our survey are doing well. Forty-three percent of the jewelers who said they’d had their best year ever since 2016 were women, suggesting they are outperforming their male counterparts.

As the Store Owner, What Did You Earn (Salary + Share of Profit) Last Year?

What Is It Your Gender?

COMMENT: The number of women owners or managers has been steadily rising since we started doing these surveys more than a decade ago. The first time we specifically asked about gender, in 2009, the split was 65/35. For the record, 43% of the thriving jewelers were women, suggesting they are outperforming their male counterparts. That said, it should be noted that male-owned stores overall tend to be older and thus the owners are often comparing those last two years against a historical record that goes back decades.

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Big Survey

Manmade Diamond Legal Quiz: Can You Do Better Than the Jewelers in the 2018 Big Survey?

Test your knowledge.

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ON JULY 24, the Federal Trade Commission’s jewelry guidelines were revised to include laboratory-grown diamonds in the commission’s definition of diamonds.

The FTC’s previous definition of a diamond was: “A natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.”

The new listing does not include the word “natural.” “When the commission first used this definition in 1956, there was only one type of diamond product on the market — natural stones mined from the earth,” the FTC said. “Since then, technological advances have made it possible to create diamonds in a laboratory. These stones have essentially the same optical, physical and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.”

Which of the following terms are you allowed to use to describe laboratory-grown diamonds, according to the FTC. (The figures in parentheses reflect the answers of your fellow jewelers who took the Big Survey)

Laboratory-grown
94%
Manmade
56%
Laboratory-created
47%
Synthetic
35%
(Manufacturer-name)-created
34%
Cultured
20%
Simulant
7%
Imitation
6%

 

The descriptions in orange are fine, based on the FTC guidelines, while those in red are not. How did you do?

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Big Survey

Big Survey: How Many Hours Do Jewelers Work Per Week?

More time at work doesn’t always spell success.

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CONVENTIONAL WISDOM SAYS there should be a direct correlation between hours worked and performance. But the 2018 Big Survey failed to find such a clear link. The takeaway? Working smart and other variables like being in an economically strong part of the economy matter more, because when you look at the numbers, just about all jewelers work hard.

To be sure, the strugglers in our survey (defined by those who said one of the last two years had been their worst in business) tended to be over-represented at the “fewer hours” end of the band, but they were also among the jewelers putting in the longest hours at the other end of the spectrum (16 percent of the strugglers were working more than 60 hours a week compared to 12 percent for the thrivers). Overall, just about everyone was working hard: 58 percent of the respondents to the 2018 Big Survey, which attracted the participation of more than 700 independent jewelers, reported working more than 45 hours a week.

Average / Thrivers / Strugglers

Less than 30 3% / 3% / 5%

30­-39 15% / 15% / 22%

40­-45 23% / 25% / 12%

46­-50 23% / 20% / 22%

51­-60 22% / 24% /22%

61­-70 9% / 8% /12%

More than 70 3% / 4% /4%

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