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What is a Strong Bench Jeweler Worth? David Geller Tells You

Make sure you pay your workhorses right.

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Should you “overpay” for a bench jeweler? You might ask, “Why would I ever want to overpay to hire anyone?” The answer: because you want to keep them, and keep them happy.

There are two types of people in the world: racehorses and workhorses. Racehorses are people who love to sell; they bring home the bacon. Workhorses, on the other hand, get things done. They include bench jewelers. There’s no “crossing the finish line,” unless you count emptying their to-do box.

So what’s the pay value for each of these jobs? 

Salespeople: These are racehorses. They want to win. An excellent salesperson has people skills and is courageous. They are unafraid to ask for the sale, even if they’ve already heard two “nos.” They also try to upsell and are not afraid to show higher-priced pieces. What value can you put on this person?

An easy start is paying them a percentage of what they sell. The sky’s the limit. They are the reason for store sales to be what they are. Don’t be afraid to pay for a star.

Jewelers: These are workhorses, yet they are workhorses with a special skill set — a skill set that is slowly dying out. The starting pay is so low that it’s hard to get young people to enter our field. 

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Today, an auto mechanic is reading a computer screen and replacing parts manufactured to fit. Hard worker? Yes. Special skill? Not in my mind. On the other hand, a jeweler might just replace a manufactured part, but now he must solder in a head and set an emerald in a way that it won’t come out, catch on clothing or crack the stone in the process. This is a skill that takes time and training.

So what’s a jeweler worth?

1. Percentage of shop sales (determined by the staff and traffic). A jeweler’s bench should produce $185,000 to $250,000 in sales a year. If you spend $1,000 month on findings, supplies and tools, then before salaries you’re left with $173,000 to $238,000 in gross profit. That’s almost a 70 percent gross profit — more than enough room to add $50,000 or more for a jeweler’s salary. Add another $10,000 for taxes and vacation, and your shop costs would be $72,000. With sales at $185,000, that’s a 60 percent profit margin.

2. If you own a store that doesn’t have enough work to keep a jeweler busy full-time, some of this “extra pay” is just what you have to pay to have someone available to set the diamonds you sold. Just another cost of business.

David Geller is a 14th-generation bench jeweler who produces The Geller Blue Book To Jewelry Repair Pricing. David is the “go-to guy” for setting up QuickBooks for a jewelry store. Reach him at [email protected].

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