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You, the Jeweler

Always our favorite part of the survey, where we get to learn a little more about the jewelers behind the numbers.




36. What is your gender?


37. How old are you?

Above 70

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

25 or less
70 or more

39. How many hours sleep do you average a night?

Less than 5
More than 9


NOTE: There is no one way to be financially successful in jewelry, but a statistical picture of those jewelers earning the most (more than $150K) would look something like this: He (yes, 78% are male) operates his own free-standing full-service store in a small Midwestern city (population less than 250,000). That nice pay packet is also the result of a long career dedicated to jewelry — 53% of the top earners are over 60 and 64% have only ever been jewelers. He works hard but also smart, spending almost as much time strategizing as selling on the sales floor. Finally, our successful jeweler knows when to rest, with 74% getting the recommended 7 hours or more of sleep a night.

40. Tell us your favorite “truth bomb”… a piece of advice or something you read that at first seemed quite innocuous but which became more and more profound the more you thought about it.

  • I was told at a young age while working for my father in the jewelry business that a little good will goes a long way. It has proven to be profound after 25 years in my own jewelry business; clients remember the small favors or services I provided years before. Not long ago, a client needed a watch band adjustment. I didn’t charge him. Although he lived almost 100 miles away, he often came through my area on business. He returned and purchased a $25,000 engagement ring. He made it a point to tell me it was because I graciously serviced his watch and refused to take any payment for my efforts.
  • Years ago, an older jeweler said to put aside 5 percent of sales every day no matter what for a rainy day fund. This fund became a life saver.
  • It’s your name on the front of the store; act like it.
  • The loudest boos come from the cheapest seats.
  • Enjoy every sandwich.
  • Stay single and your pockets will jingle. LOL. But seriously, merchandise bought well is half sold.
  • “I never met a diamond more valuable than my reputation!” I told that to a customer when she asked me to test a melee that we set in her bracelet. She wanted to see the proof that it was a diamond. I gave her a Geller loupe to help her see for herself. She left very happy.
  • Soak your feet in hot water and drink ice cold red Gatorade to get rid of a migraine.
  • Don’t poke a badger with a sharp stick!
  • As you grow your business, work in it and live in it the way you see it to be in the future so that you grow into that store.
  • Never burn a bridge you may have to crawl back across.
  • Good, fast or cheap. You can have two but not all three.
  • Golf is a good walk spoiled.
  • You may not sell anything if you’re open, but you sure won’t sell anything if you’re not.
  • PPPPP. Proper preparation prevents poor performance.
  • Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered. Make a fair profit, but be fair to your customer. Make the deal and move on.
  • Please don’t cry when you’ve worn out your prongs. It’s like crying over your worn tires. Remember, if your tires are worn, lady, you’ve been places!
  • People are the worst. Even the good ones.
  • I feel better now that I’ve given up hope.
  • Not all people have the wiring for sales. (Credit: Peter Smith)
  • It’s not the employee you fire that gives you grief; it’s the one you don’t and should.
  • My mentor told me that ours was a great business to be in because unlike other retailers, our inventory (gems and precious metals) has always been valuable. Little did he know that the gold he was buying at $300 an ounce would one day top $2,000 an ounce.
  • You’re never too important to vacuum.

41. Have you ever had a profession other than jeweler?

The Big Survey 2022: You, the Jeweler

While a clear majority of the jewelers in our survey had only ever been jewelers, the rest hailed from a surprisingly wide range of professions and trades. Former teachers (including no fewer than 5 college professors) led the way, accounting for about 15% of these responses, followed by other sales and retail jobs, IT experts, marketers, accountants, lawyers, tradespeople (welders, plumbers and sawmillers), nurses, pastors and — to us — a surprising number of librarians (4). Then there were the exotic jobs: professional motorcycle racer, pilot, commercial fisherman, casino manager, a “Charlie” girl for Revlon, and a communications expert for NASA. It all goes to show that the appeal of jewelry — to buy, create and sell — remains as universal as ever.

42. What was the last thing that brought a smile to your face in the store?

  • Newly engaged couple getting their ring back after resizing. Girl puts it on and goes, “Oh Yeah! F Yeah!” Hahaha!
  • I recently pierced the ears of a 90-year-old woman and she was fabulous! She was so happy to have a second piercing!
  • My customer’s husband ran to his car and came back and fixed a hole in my wall while I shortened a watch band for his grandson!
  • Little boy mounted a diamond from our Digging for Diamonds Event for his mom. The diamond was less than 0.10 carats, but he was so excited!
  • My kid entering the business.
  • Celebrating an employee’s 25th workaversary.
  • Finding the damn diamond that fell behind the worktable.
  • A male customer shouting, “You nailed it, babe!” to his wife upon seeing a custom piece she had done for him.
  • Cutting a ring off a Vietnam vet who was so grateful for the service.
  • A gentleman who had a stroke was brought in to pick out a 50th wedding anniversary gift. He was nonverbal and could barely move. He slowly lifted his hand to point toward the item he wanted to get his wife. His daughters and our sales staff were brought to tears.
  • A bull mastiff named Finn who “works” next door with his mom at a security company. He comes over to visit on Wednesdays and gets a half a sandwich.
  • We give Proposal Packages when an engagement ring is purchased, which includes a his-and-hers store-branded hat. A woman came in to get her ring sized after her surprise proposal and told us that they put their hats on anytime they are doing wedding planning.
  • Customer brought me a bottle of wine yesterday for being so nice during the diamond sale!
  • Clients telling me to please not retire.
  • A guy I went to high school with that I hadn’t seen in 50 years called and wanted to buy an engagement ring. He drove four hours three separate times and made the purchase. Awesome feeling. I’ll bet he drove past 300 jewelry stores on his way.
  • A young teen girl coming in just to look at our stones. She knew most of them. It was so nice to meet someone so young so passionate about nature’s gifts.
  • A little girl walking by with her family, yelling through the open doorway, pointing to her finger “I love my jewelry!”
  • A customer moved to another state and wrecked her platinum rings while moving. I felt bad and did the repairs for free. The customer and her husband sent me spectacular flowers with a card that said I would be their jeweler forever and that they love me. That made me cry, not smile, but it was tears of joy because my customers become like family to me.

43. You are now the President of the United States for one day! How will you make life easier for small businesspeople?

  • I decree there shall be the same sales tax in every state!
  • Reduced payroll or business tax.
  • Stores have to close on Sundays.
  • No companies that we buy from can compete with us by selling products to the public via the internet.
  • Easy access to federal loans to start or expand business.
  • Incentives or support so we can offer more insurance and paid time off like vacation, sick, or holiday.
  • Universal health care.
  • Enforce truth in advertising.
  • Don’t want the job!

44. What song makes you unconditionally happy?

  • We Are Family, Sister Sledge
    “When I hear the song ‘We Are Family,’ it brings me back to the time when our entire family worked together. My father, who started the first store, would play that song, and back then I didn’t understand the importance of why he played it, but now reflecting back 26 years, it was pretty special to have that relationship with my family and to be able to work together.”
  • F U, Ce-Lo Green
    “Makes me chortle.”
  • Rhinestone Cowboy, Glenn Campbell
    “Our whole store sings it together every morning when we are opening up.”
  • Hey Jude, The Beatles
    “My son was named after this song.”
Songs mentioned most frequently:
  • Happy, Pharrell Williams
  • Mr. Blue Sky, ELO
  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Bobby McFerrin
  • Uptown Funk, Mark Ronson / Bruno Mars
  • Three Little Birds, Bob Marley & the Wailers
  • Bohemian Rhapsody, Queen
  • Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett
  • What A Wonderful World, Louis Armstrong
  • It’s About Damn Time, Lizzo
  • Piano Man, Billy Joel



When the Kids Have Their Own Careers, Wilkerson Can Help You to Retire

Alex and Gladys Rysman are the third generation to run Romm Jewelers in Brockton, Mass. And after many decades of service to the industry and their community, it was time to close the store and take advantage of some downtime. With three grown children who each had their own careers outside of the industry, they decided to call Wilkerson. Then, the Rysmans did what every jeweler should do: They called other retailers and asked about their own Wilkerson experience. “They all told us what a great experience it was and that’s what made us go with Wilkerson.” says Gladys Rysman. The results? Alex Rysman says he was impressed. “We exceeded whatever I expected to do by a large margin.”

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