By David Farer for www.melee-express.com
There is much confusion about what a jeweler is, and what the profession entails. So I'm here to clear the air. People have simple, misguided assumptions. They think you are merely a salesman. A purveyor of luxury goods. They believe you sell customers beautiful trinkets, who then leave the premise and live happily ever after.
They are wrong.
The Holder of Secrets
A jeweler is first and foremost, a prophet of marital disaster. He can see shattered futures everywhere. But he must not talk about it. All he can do is smile like an idiot and pretend that everything is rosy.
That one lady who came in earlier with her husband and bought a gold necklace? She also came in last week with one of her boyfriends.
Nothing to see here.
A father and son separately buying an engagement ring for the same woman, you say? Hey, good for them. I'm sure that'll work out just fine.
To be a jeweler is to be the awkward, accidental side character in 18 simultaneous soap operas. You have no lines, but you're part of others' drama by default. It's an unfortunate hazard of the job, but one you must get comfortable with if you wish to survive.
I See Is Crazy People
What they don't tell you before entering the jewelry business, is that some humans are just deeply unstable when surrounded by expensive shiny accessories. Exactly why this is remains to be seen, but I'm guessing it has something to do with being brainwashed by Disney when they were five.
Do you know what happens when a woman with princess delusions isn't happy with her fairytale wedding band? Hell hath no fury.
There is lots of crying and shouting. And sometimes, threats. Vague threats that involve an apparently large sibling turning up to slam your head on the counter.
Like in any industry, things go wrong in this business. Situations take a turn for the worst, and you see the dark side of people. In one moment she is princess-to-be, but in the next she may well be the goddess of fire, threatening to burn the establishment to the ground.
Fortunately there is a complimentary service that you can outsource these especially challenging customers to:
They're called the police.
Still, it's useful for a jeweler to possess good customer service world class crisis-negotiation skills, just in case.
And for true security, military level hand-to-hand combat training. You won't need that often, but it might help you sleep at night.
It might put an end to those nightmares, where a faceless customer-from-hell chases you down the street with a hunting rifle, yelling “THAT CRATER-SIZED DENT WAS DEFINTELY IN THE RING WHEN YOU SOLD IT TO ME, I WANT A REFUND!”
It's not just the volatile ones; jewelry seems to have a unique gravitational pullthat sucks in society's more.... unusual members. I'm talking spiritualists, occultists, fanatics, and individuals who list their home address as an outer dimension. The kind who opt to have all their finger nails removed, and then want them turned it into a terrifying ankle bracelet.
You'd be surprised at the amount of people who want body parts hanging fromtheir neck, or ears. While there might be sentimental value in jewelry crafted from human (or animal) remains, the jeweler must remain suspicious at all times.
It's one thing turning a dead dog's teeth in to a pair of hideous earrings. But if someone wants an entire bag of human hair transformed into a tiara, it's perfectly reasonable to send them packing. “Sorry sir, I don't care if you have the death certificate to prove you didn't murder these 5 people in the cold light of day, it's not happening. Please stop phoning.”
Needless to say, a jeweler is subject to a whole host of bizarre custom requestsduring the week. “Can you deface this lavish family heirloom with a crappy quote I found on Pinterest?” “Can you make me a purity ring with overly specific details about my anus?” “Can you repair my bathroom scepter?” It can be anything, really.
Albeit, some requests are more common than others. If you spend enough time working as a jeweler, you come to appreciate just how keen many couples are to have bedroom exploits documented on wearable silver.
Sex sells, I suppose?
Whether you choose to entertain each of these weird and wonderful requests is at your discretion. Either way, you need to have an open mind, and develop a high tolerance for uncertainty. That's critical. Because for every customer that wants you to fashion a disturbing emblem of their fucked up psyche, there are numerous others who don't know what the hell they want. There are those who spend so much time umming and ahhing about whether they're happy with their jewelry, that you want to throw them up against the wall and scream “WHAT DO YOU WANT! PLEASE, FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, TELL ME WHAT YOU FUCKING WANT!”
But you mustn't. Not just because that is assault. But because they'll never know what they want.
Be Like Water
In this business, your long-term sanity really depends on how you deal with the baffling, illogical behavior of your clientele. Of which there is plenty. Why would someone hassle you to rush through their order as if a gun were being held to their head, only for them to not bother picking it up when it is ready?
Did they fall down a hole? Do they have amnesia? Could it be both? And why would a person tell you how delighted they are with your service, to then go and stab you in the back with a ruinous online review?
“I'm so happy with the result, it's beautiful. Here's a perfectly adequate two out of five stars!”
Oh, cheers. Feel free to come back any day the sun doesn't rise.
The answer is, to all of the above: It doesn't matter.
Some people operate in mysterious ways, so there's no point trying to make sense of it. Madness cannot be reasoned with. All you can do is take a deep breath, punch a hole in break room wall (optional), and move on. In the jewelry game, it easy to get frustrated, or annoyed, or angry. But you must stay level-headed, at all times. Allowing the lunacy to consume you, is a path to darkness. And heavy lunchtime drinking.
Patience and composure. Really, that is the key to everything. That is what it takes to be a jeweler. When everything around you is descending in to stupidity and chaos, you must be the picture of zen.
© Febuary 2021 www.melee-express.com