Last updateWed, 22 May 2019 1am

The Retailer’s Perspective: We’ve got rules in here!

It’s been a few years since I’ve had to train a new associate at my store. So, whenever that happens they are always surprised at the number of weird rules and regulations that are unique to the jewelry industry that I have to explain and re-explain. And then explain again. So, since I just added a new assistant, I thought I’d write about ‘dem rules’ so I’d have something to fall back on the next time it happens.

Don’t touch that!

In a jewelry repair shop, there are literally diamonds and gold everywhere. Rings, bracelets, pendants, loose diamonds, and that one weird project that you never seem to find time to finish. It may look like chaos and disorganization to the untrained eye, but to my eye it’s orderly and efficient - but only to me!

I tell everyone that works at my store the same thing: “You can pick up and look at any piece that you want, AS LONG AS YOU ASK ME FIRST!” The main reason is that I put bits and pieces of the same job together for later assembly or repair. If you want to pick up and look at that ring over there, make sure that this little sapphire sitting right here stays right here with it. This diamond goes with this ring, not that one. And the ruby in that pendant is loose because I haven’t set it yet. If you pick it up, make sure you don’t let the ruby fall on the floor and get kicked into wherever rubies go to die.

Like I said, you can pick up and look at any and every piece. Just ask me first.

Don’t throw that away

Why yes, I am going to keep that mailing box you’re holding in your hand. Why? Well, it’s not because I like hoarding mailing boxes, that’s for sure.

The reason I hold onto shipping containers for about 3 months is because that’s about how long it takes before a problem crops up. Someone will call about something missing from their order and I’ll say; “I don’t know what you’re talking about.” They’ll say something like, “It was in the package I sent you about 6 weeks ago.” Then, I won’t have to say, “I already threw that box away.”

In fact, I’ll say, “Give me a few minutes and let me look.” I’ll go through my shipping containers and find their shipping box. I’ll dig through the packaging, the bubble wrap, the Styrofoam peanuts, the newspaper clippings that lined the bottom of their birdcage, and then tell them, “It’s not there.” Only to be told, “Oops, sorry, we just found it. We forgot to send it.”

Another reason I keep them is people forget things, like my check, until they’ve sealed and taped all of the inner packaging. Then they’ll just throw it in at the last second and I won’t see it. And I like checks.

Don’t throw that away in THAT trash can

We also have weird rules about where trash gets thrown away in our shop. We have secure area trash, and non-secure area trash. If it’s a trash can where jewelry is being handled, it doesn’t just get thrown away every night. We have one designated area for things that will start stinking in a few days, and another area for things that won’t decompose for a millennium or more. If you only eat half your sandwich today, I don’t really want to store that for a few months. I want that out the door tonight. But that trash collection area never has jewelry around it.

In the shop though, where things go bump in the night and objects disappear for days on end, you don’t want to be wondering if that missing diamond was in the trash you threw in the dumpster two days ago. The trash cans in the shop areas never have anything in them that will attract flies or funny looks. When they get full, I seal them, and write the date on them, and put them in the store room for a few months. Why a few months you ask?

If something turns up missing that you took in on July 7th, and you sealed that trash bag on July 1st, you don’t have to go through it once you’ve exhausted every other avenue. But, if that missing item came in on June 12th, and you’ve looked everywhere else, you’re gonna be happy you kept that trash bag. And yes, I have found what I was looking for once or twice over the years in the sealed trash bags.

No, they can’t use our bathroom

There are several reasons for this, beyond the fact that people are gross and I don’t want strangers using my bathroom. First and foremost is security.

All of our alarm stuff is hidden from view from the front of the store. If a bad guy wants to see what kind of security system and safe you have in advance, he’s probably going to ask if he can use your bathroom. If you were to walk from my showroom to my bathroom, you’d see what type of safe that I have. You’d see the location of my motion detectors. You’d see where the alarm panel and control units are located. You’d also have a big head start if you plan to rob the place. If a customer asks if they can use the restroom, just say no. Then follow that up with, “It’s an insurance thing.”

Can I show all 12 of those diamond bracelets at the same time?

NO! Then point to the sign in the case saying ‘One item at a time from this case’. Sometimes customers are just curious and they want to hold and compare all 12 before making a buying decision. Sometimes someone wants to hold all 12 because it’s just as easy to run out the door with 12 as it is to run out with one. You know what they say, go big or go home. Its here I have to reiterate to my new associate that we’re very serious about security out front.

No, we can’t let them in early

Yes, I know he’s holding up a watch and pointing at it in the universal sign language meaning he needs a new watch battery. Yes, I agree he looks like an innocent old man who looks like he wouldn’t harm a fly. But he’s still not getting in until we are fully set up and ready to open for the day. Once the cases and the safes are secure, I don’t mind unlocking the front door a few minutes early. But only if our security protocol is in place and we’re ready to open for the day anyway.

Have I broken this procedure once or twice throughout the years? Sure, but probably not in the last 25 years. Why? Because as soon as you let someone in, they immediately start looking at (and playing with) the jewelry that is still on top of your counters. You can’t stop them. It’s like a magnetic force that draws them in and makes them pick up and touch things you don’t want them to pick up and touch. Then, about 2 days later, you’re going to notice something missing and you’re immediately going to suspect that sweet, little old man.

Then, when you find it the next day (right where you left it), you’re going to feel bad because you thought that little old man stole from you. Shame on you. It’s not until about three weeks later that you notice the diamond that was switched for a CZ and you realize that little old man really was a thief. Ouch!

The point is, we don’t operate in a normal environment. We operate in a secure environment with extra measures that must be put in place and followed meticulously. Because who really wants to go through the process of getting a permit at the landfill so you can dig through mountains of garbage to find that diamond ring that got thrown out last Friday?

Got any special rules and procedures at your store? Write me and I’ll do a follow up in the future. And remember, it’s less than 90 days till Christmas. Yikes!

Chuck is the owner of Anthony Jewelers in Nashville, TN. Chuck also owns CMK Co., a wholesale trade shop that specializes in custom jewelry and repair services to the jewelry industry nationwide. If you would like to contact Chuck or need a speaker or instructor for your next conference/event he can be reached at 615-354-6361, www.CMKcompany.com or send e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..