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David Squires

The Life and Times of Buddy Rhinestone



This week, we bring you another vintage “In the End” comedy column — this one from February 2007.

Our subject? A sleazy parody of our then- (and still-) popular “Smooth Seller” column. Our subject? An entirely fictional creation of ours named Buddy Rhinestone, who shares his philosophy on basic gemology (“Four C’s, schmour C’s”), ear piercings (“ages three and up”) and the power of a smile.

seller schmeller
top salespeople share their secrets

Buddy Rhinestone

58, store owner, $53,000 in 2005 sales (as
declared to IRS; Buddy’s Open pit; Soome, NJ



THERE WAS A TIME when jewelry buyers didn’t jave to worry about whether their diamond purchase was finacing a civil war, their gold wedding band had caused acres of rare rainforest to be destroyed, their sapphire had been cooked in Thai gem lab, or the watch they’d bought on an Internet auction site was a bootleg job made in a Chinese sweatshop. Back when there was no Internet, no "cultured" gems, no outsourcing to China. There was just your trusty local jeweler, someone like Buddy Rhinestone, someone who stood for doing business fairly and ethically. Buddy’s taking things slowly these days, although his stand on professional conduct hasn’t softened. "People try to tell ya you can’t make money that way, but that’s a buncha hooey! Trust me – there are no written guarantees in my store. My word is as good as my name." Here are more words of ethical wisdom from Buddy:

"Conflict diamonds, shmonflict diamonds!" is what I tell ’em. "Hey, it’s already outta the ground – you don’t buy it, somebody else is gonna." It’s nice to see these folks having a social conscience, but there’s a time and a place.

"These kids, they come in, they don’t know diamonds from dog biscuits. The first thing they ask is, "What about the four C’s?" "What about ’em?" I say. "Four C’s, shmour C’s!" These kids, the don’t trust the common wisdom. It’s like how everyone thinks one human year equals seven cat years, but you talk to a vet, and they say, "The math’s not that simple. It depends on how much exercise the cat gets." Or like how they always say you shouldn’t smoke or drink if your’e pregnant, but you ask a doctor, and they say, four, five cigarettes a day, a couple of drinks – no problem.

These kids, they don’t wanna hear the same old story. I show ’em a big stone, they mention inclusions, I say, "What, someone’s gonna stop you on the street with a microscope?" We have a laugh. I get the credit card, and they’re out the door.

It’s a balancing act. But I’ve run four different businesses under the four different names, so I think I know something about it.


This girl comes in, she wants to see something in white gold. "White gold, shmite gold!" I say. I roll out the platinum. I say, "You and this ring are gonna be together for years – you want something that lasts." She tells me she and the future hubby are on a budget – pastors don’t make too much, and besides, it’s not like she’s gonna damage the ring, seeing as she’s just doing secretarial work for him in the church office. "Oh, really?" I say. Bang! Bam! Crash! I’m swoopin’ my arm around like a monkey on moonshine: "’Let me just get those papers for you, honey’. ‘Oops, another Bible just fell on my hand, honey.’ – the ring’s broken again!’" She goes straight to the boyfriend and tells him she’s gotta have platinum. He winces, but he knows he’s doing right by her. God’s work – we each have to do our part.

Ear piercings? One word: Ages 3 and up. I know – they grow up so fast these days. But you want your kid to get made fun of at snack time?

Sometimes a regular customer comes in, he’s lookin’ at something and you know it’s not for the wife. Now here’s how you play it: A week after the purchase, you pick one of the girls on the floor. You’ve been meaning to get rid of her anyway – hey, you’ve got overhead, that’s business. You tell her to call Mrs. Johnson and ask her if she’s liking the new jewelry. You know, just taking care of our valued patrons. Hoo-boy! So Mrs. Johnson explodes, she’s off to call her lawyer, and the next day, you’ve got Mr. Johnson in there, asking what you’re doing calling his wife! Ohmigod, you’re so sorry, you’ll take care of the problem posthaste. And bam, the girl who made the call is gone. Mr Johnson is happy, and if you do it right, a year later, both he and the former missus’ll be back with new significant others. One couple, three sales. They weren’t gonna last anyway. Everybody wins.

Best of luck, and remember to keep on smiling – people love that.

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For 25 years, Stafford Jewelers of Cincinnati, Ohio, was THE place to go for special gifts, engagement diamonds, high-end Swiss watch brands — in other words, the crème de la crème of fine jewelry. But this summer, the Stafford family was ready to retire. So, they chose Wilkerson to help them close up shop. “One of the biggest concerns was having the sale in the middle of COVID,” says Director of Stores Michelle Randle. Wilkerson gave the Stafford team plenty of ideas as well as safety guidelines, which they closely followed. “All of the employees felt safe, the customers coming in the door felt safe and we did a lot of business,” says Randle. How much business? “The inventory flew,” she says. Translation: They sold millions and millions of dollars-worth of merchandise. Randle calls it, “an incredible experience.” Would she recommend Wilkerson to other retailers who are thinking of thinning their inventories or retiring? “Everyone got more than what they expected out of the sale. You have to hire Wilkerson. They’re amazing.”

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