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You, The Jeweler

Each year we try to get to know our readers a little better and each year we're glad we make the effort. This time we explored your idiosyncrasies, your missteps and what your peers in junior high thought of you.




42. Back in 8th grade (or whenever), what did your classmates vote you?

  • Most Likely to Succeed (24)
  • Class Clown (23)
  • Most Shy (15)
  • Biggest Nerd (14)
  • Most Creative (12)
  • Best Dressed (10)
  • Kindest (8)
  • Most Athletic (7)
  • Most Talkative (5)
  • Biggest Troublemaker (4)
COMMENT: You jewelers sure are a friendly, successful lot. And some were so singular and distinguished, we just had to include them here: Worst Dancer, Miss Hustle, Biggest Brown Noser, Hairiest, Biggest Gold Digger, Least Likely To Be A Monk, and Most Likely to Live Off My Parents. Also, one was voted Biggest Airhead, but added, “Boy did they get that wrong!”

big survey 2020 gender and age data

45. What do you proudly “do wrong”? And why?

  • When a customer is trading in scrap gold for repairs or jewelry, we pay them 100 percent of what we will get from the refinery, for two reasons. First, we’re already making a profit on what they’re buying, so why should we make a profit on their scrap? Second, it shocks the customer into an instant bond of trust. It always turns a “we’ll think about it” into a “yes!”.
  • I come right out and ask bridal shoppers their budget. I tell them I have anything from a couple hundred dollars all the way into tens of thousands and it gets them to feel comfortable and state what they had in mind.
  • I will often counsel a couple to spend less on their rings knowing that money is the No. 1 cause of marital stress.
  • Wear socks with my sandals (only when with my family). It drives my daughters nuts.
  • Discounts. I like to make people be happy with me and come back, even if I don’t make the big bucks. (My husband hates it.)
  • I work every day. I don’t take days off. I don’t understand what people do with all that time — just like read a book? Or do housework? I’d rather sell more at work and get a cleaning service.
  • I talk people out of selling heirlooms. I make them really think before they sell me certain items. They are many times very grateful. And other times, they just sell it to me after thinking about it.
  • I proudly don’t dress like a “jeweler.” I love selling diamond engagement rings while wearing flip flops, jeans and a T-shirt.
  • We don’t stock any diamonds. More work up front for every sale, but it leaves me with more money for hiring and improving our space.
  • Talk politics. I think it’s important to have communication no matter what “side” of the fence you’re on.
  • I wear my watch on the wrong wrist. Saves wear and tear on my bracelet. Try to convert others!
  • Wear Vans sneakers with suits. I started doing it 25 years ago because of sore feet. Now, it’s my style.
  • Flirt with customers. I don’t know why I get away with it, but it’s worked for me for 50 years.
  • Leave the toilet seat up. Look before you sit.
  • The first store I worked at used to shun customers that were not buying. I didn’t, and those customers followed me and brought whole towns of business. The owner always told me, “You’re wasting your time, he is not buying today.” That store is out of business.

46. What was the biggest screw-up you ever made but were able to fix before anyone found out?

Jewelry retailers, despite their multi-tasking superpowers, are only human. Some confessed to diamonds tossed in the garbage, settings made in the wrong color gold, and even empty boxes gift wrapped and delivered. Here are some samples of near-catastrophes averted.

  • I thought I had thrown away a finished ring mounting in tissue in the trash. Rushed out to the dumpster the next day only to find it had been emptied overnight. AGHHHHhhh. Re-created the whole piece in two days and delivered it on time. The catch was the original was made from her mom’s gold and diamonds. Literally five minutes after she picked it up, I found her original in another customer’s bag. Jeez! I called her and told her I forgot to take pictures for her appraisal. She brought the ring back in and I swapped it for the original, printed out the “appraisal” and had a serious cocktail. Sheesh!
  • I didn’t do it alone, but a part-time employee picked a Mikimoto clasp piece off my beading tray and tossed it in the trash. It was in a plastic baggie and she picked up some threads and other baggies and tossed it. The next day I sat down to finish stringing the beads and couldn’t find the tongue of the clasp. I searched everywhere and then I decided I better check the trash that had been taken out the day before. I had to climb in to a dumpster to get the bag, I am just under 5 feet tall and wondered if I would be able to get out. I took the two bags back to the store and we picked through the trash. The piece was in the bottom of the second bag with chicken bones from our lunch the day before. I was not happy.
  • I broke my mother’s chandelier doing a cartwheel in the house. I was able to find a replacement globe before she knew about it.
  • Switched bags with gifts for two customers. I had to follow them into another store and switch them without being seen.
  • Couldn’t find a customer’s diamond for hours and found it stuck to my arm as the customer walked in the door.
  • Took home five diamonds in my shirt pocket and washed them. Thank God they stayed in the diamond papers.
  • Sold a client a diamond and gave them the right description and price but somehow managed to give the diamond setter a diamond that was $13,000 more to set in the ring! Luckily as I was checking the diamonds later that evening and putting them in their proper parcel, I realized my mistake and was able to correct the issue before the wrong diamond was set.
  • Boxed and wrapped some fresh mountain air and let my customer walk off without the ring in the box! It took me 30 seconds to realize what I had done! I launched myself into the crowd and chased him down!
  • One of my staff threw out a nun’s inherited diamond, which I replaced, but ended up confessing to her.
  • Superglue is my BFF. ‘Nuff said.
  • I used to have really long hair. One day, as I was using a wire wheel on my Foredom (flexible shaft machine), I wasn’t thinking and whipped my hair forward right into the spinning wire wheel. Didn’t take long to get my foot off the pedal, needless to say! However, at this point I now had my Foredom complete with wire wheel wrapped firmly on top of my head. This was 46 years ago, so there was no quick release tool. I got the Foredom free from my head and ran to the bathroom with a pair of shears to retrieve the wheel before any of the staff saw it. Learned many lessons that day, including humility.

47. Are you a jeweler who runs a profitable store, yet still has time for your family as well as friends and your own recreational pursuits? What’s your secret? What time-management tips can you share?

Following are what we could call the 15 Habits of Highly Effective Jewelers. If you can do all of them, you’ll possibly be the most content and productive jeweler in the world.

1. Hire great staff and delegate — “Train and trust.”
2. Prioritize and learn to say no. Start by putting family first.
3. Be strict about days/hours — don’t take work home.
4. When at work, work hard
5. Be efficient — “Touch things once.”
6. Work smart. Take advantage of technology.
7. Work with your family — you’ll see more than enough of them.
8. Think like a businessman: Focus on profit, not revenue.
9. Start early in the day — the early hours are magic.
10. Have processes.
11. Marry smart (your spouse will be your best partner).
12. Love your work and you won’t have to worry about pursuing outside interests.
13. Go appointment-only.
14. Get a good consultant.
15. Lower your expectations and wants/desires.


48. If you were a gemstone, what would you be?

big survey 2020-biggest screw up

4. Opal
“Colorful, fiery, transformative, ever-changing color flashes.”
5. Ruby
“Vibrant, strong, resilient.”
6. Emerald
“Somewhat flawed but still beautiful inside and out.”
7. Tourmaline
“A stone of mixed colors.”
8. Pearl
“So many layers that add to the whole.”
9. Jade
“Strong and translucent.”
10. Moonstone
“Beautiful and unique under the right circumstances.”
11. Tsavorite garnet
“Complementary to all colors, yet stands confidently on its own.”
12. Spinel
“Color change.”
13. Garnet
“They are a family of related minerals, and they come in all colors.”
14. Tanzanite
“Rare and special!”
15. Topaz
“Pretty, classic and a lot of look for the money.



She Wanted to Spend More Time with Her Kids. She Called Wilkerson.

Your children are precious. More precious than gold? Absolutely! Just ask Lesley Ann Davis, owner of Lesley Ann Jewels, an independent jewelry store that — until the end of 2023 — had quite a following in Houston, Texas. To spend more time with her four sons, all in high school, she decided to close her store. Luckily, she was familiar with Wilkerson and called them as soon as she knew she wanted to move on to bigger, better and more family-focused things. Was she happy with her decision? Yes, she was. Says Davis, “Any owner looking to make that life change, looking to retire, looking to close, looking for a pause in their career, I would recommend Wilkerson. Hands down!”

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