The missing link
The task of advising clients about repair work at our store usually falls on my shoulders. I try to develop good relationships with my customers so I can deliver both good and bad news. Sometimes, I even have to tell them they are not properly caring for their jewellery. The best advice I can offer clients on maintaining bracelet links is to keep them clean and get repairs done before significant wear occurs to the surrounding metal.
The second example we’ll look at is a more typical repair than the Rolex bracelet.
In our store, every customer who walks through the door is asked whether they would like to have their jewellery inspected and cleaned by the bench jeweller. While this policy does make it difficult at times for me to get my work done, it also allows me to see a lot of jewellery that normally never gets inspected. I often find potential problems and, in turn, this leads to some rather nice sales.
The bracelet seen in the third photo above looked great on the customer’s wrist, but under my microscope it was a different story.
When examining a customer’s jewellery, I use a microscope mounted on my bench. Normally, I find loose stones or worn prongs, but this time I found another problem. On first inspection, this bracelet was so dirty, I couldn’t even see the rivet wires holding the links together. The fourth photo above was taken after the bracelet was cleaned. As you can see, the rivet wire and its host tube are badly worn. Each link in this bracelet is in the same condition—they are all about to break. For situations like this, I have another microscope on the sales floor that is attached to a television monitor. I do a minimal cleaning on the piece and then show the customer what I’ve found. Most of the time, customers are not even aware a problem exists and the news often comes as a shock. I do not use hard-sell tactics when showing these types of problems to customers, hoping to drum up repair jobs. I prefer to talk about how I would handle the problem and the quality of my repair work. In this case, the woman chose to have the bracelet repaired.
I am a strong advocate of using a microscope and monitor for discussing repairs with potential customers. I call this practice ‘show them what you see,’ and it has generated hundreds of sales for my repair shop. The microscope and large monitor were an expensive investment for the store, but they have paid for themselves many times over. Frequently, I am also asked to show the completed repair work under the same system. Over the years, I’ve found I’ve become a better bench jeweller by showing customers ‘before and after’ examples of my work.
After cutting the bracelet apart, each link was fitted with a section of heavy-wall gold tubing. Note in the last photo above just how worn the old links are; more than 50 per cent of the original link is now gone. The new tubes will replace the worn metal, while the new rivet wires will slide smoothly, making this bracelet almost like new.