Talking about etiquette do’s and don’ts of any kind, can be a little like walking on glass. However, etiquette is important in any setting—it’s how you get what you want…and what you deserve. Even in the jewelry world, you need to know what to expect from others and what they expect from you.

A pleasant interaction is optimum for all parties!

As a jeweler myself, I have had some truly wonderful experiences with my clients over the years, and then there are others I’d truly like to forget. Working with the public is not always the easiest job—sharks can be much friendlier at times (waitresses and waiters can attest to that!)—so you have to be understanding and even delicate, at times. The same is true of those on the other side of the counter—the clients. As they say, you catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.

But before jewelry owners can get what they want from us jewelers, there are some things they should bear in mind. The truth is, to ensure you get the best service from your jeweler you need to ensure that you are being the best client you can be. First of all, there is one thing to remember right off the bat before you step foot inside a jewelry store: For some reason, even perfectly sane people can be a little weird about their jewelry. They can be easily offended, take what a jeweler says personally, even misplace some sparkly-thing-related anger.

Okay, I said it. Phew. With that heavy, but simple, truth off my chest, I can tell you bluntly that, no, Great Grandma’s gray-tinted brooch with blue stones made of glass is not real, even though her uncle’s cousin, who knows what sapphires look like because he was in a mine once, said it was real. This sort of mis-information happens all the time. So, when your jeweler says something isn’t real or not worth what you think it does, they really aren’t trying to hurt your feelings. In fact, it would be better for everyone involved if said piece of jewelry were real or worth a ton of money—then there is money to be made for all parties, either fixing it, selling it, appraising it, or buying it! (That being said, a good jeweler should most definitely tell you when your piece is worth more than you thought, too!) There’s no reason for your jeweler to deceive you, but it also isn’t to anyone’s advantage to get emotional when given an expert opinion. Correct information and knowledge is key, and hearsay is hearsay. Make sure you know the difference when it comes to your jewelry, and even if you trust your personal source, be open-minded until a professional weighs in.

Speaking of trust…

A lot of people assume that jewelers are there to rip them off. But a good jeweler would like nothing more than to have your business and do the best they can to meet your needs. So try to enter any transaction with a jeweler the same way you would with any other professional who offers a service. The employee at the jewelers is not trying to insult you or your piece by suggesting a cleaning for your jewelry or noticing that something may be broken or worn. The advice they offer should be in your best interest.

Tip: Want to make sure you jeweler is telling you the truth about that prong being worn or broken? Ask him or her for a loop or magnifying glass so you can see it for yourself. Then ask them to share an example of what it should look like by showing you a new prong on a piece of jewelry from the case. Looking at a brand-new engagement ring from the case with a similar prong type compared to your worn prong, for example, can be very telling, even to the untrained eye!

See?! Jewelry can get very dirty!

If a jeweler does suggest you need to clean a piece, here’s another thing to remember: Jewelry can be very dirty and gross. No, really. Some people go decades without getting their jewelry cleaned. With that in mind, just imagine that for a minute…. Potentially disgusting, right? So know that the jeweler’s employee puts out a tray for you to lay your jewelry on, its for sanitation purposes only, its not meant to be insulting. Respecting your jeweler’s decision to clean your jewelry before inspecting it, if they choose to do so, is going to make for a much more pleasant experience for all involved.

A final piece of etiquette to remember is to respect the jeweler’s need to take time when writing your repair receipt or ticket when you leave your jewelry for repair. Jewelry stores do so many repairs at the same time that taking detailed notes on your specific piece of jewelry—what it looks like, what markings it has, any flaws or damaged areas—is both to your benefit and theirs.

Tip: Want to know what to do when your ring is stuck on your finger? First, don’t lick your fingers to get a stuck ring off. Not only could your ring be covered in germs you are now ingesting, but it will make your piece even more dirty for your jeweler. If you have rings that are stuck, try using some water, lotion, or Windex (yes, Windex! It works quite well to help get a ring off!) to help loosen a very stuck ring. If none of those things work, a jeweler can assist by cutting the ring off… which can then be made to the proper size.

They will then have a detailed record of exactly what your piece looks like so it can never be mixed up with someone else’s jewelry. You would be surprised how many times in a single day I have seen the same or similar looking pieces (this includes watches) appear at my bench for repair…from different clients. I promise you, the jeweler is not trying to waste your time; they are simply being thorough. Okay, okay, they also want to cover their own butts, you caught me, but they want to cover yours, too. In my experience, people tend to look harder at their jewelry than ever before when it comes back from the jeweler. So, that scratch on your watch face may be two years old, but you may not have even noticed it…until you got it back from the jeweler.

If you follow those etiquette guidelines, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised with your service. Fostering a good relationship with your jeweler, with mutual respect and common goals, is not only important to future work but will also give you a better piece of mind as you leave your favorite necklace with this talented stranger.

But, as you know, all relationships go both ways. You didn’t think I was going to give the client all the responsibility and not have anything to say about the other side of the counter, did you? No way. Truth be told, jewelers and their employees are human, too. We make mistakes, and we have bad days just like you. I’ve messed up before, or at least have been off my game or a little cranky because I really needed that latte and the line was too long. But as in all industries, being cranky is no excuse for poor service, rudeness, or a lack professionalism. While you can’t control your jeweler, you can pay attention to how they follow their own side of the etiquette seesaw, and if they aren’t holding up their end of the bargain, it’s time to take your jewelry somewhere else.

You can spot an ethical jeweler a mile away. My moral professional decree is that every piece of jewelry, big or small, expensive or not, should be treated with the same amount of respect. If you place value in something, then so should your jeweler. If the person you are dealing with behind the counter scoffs at your jewelry or makes derogatory, disrespectful,or insulting remarks about it than don’t even wait to see the quality of their work. As the customer, you should always feel that the conversation and interaction is to your

A good relationship goes both ways. The jewelry associate should be showing you respect and giving you their undivided attention. If they are not, its your right as a customer to say so or bring your business elsewhere.

benefit, and the moment you feel that the person helping you is just insulting your jewelry and dismissing it as “cheap, worthless, or junk” than it’s time to say goodbye. You would know the difference between your doctor suggesting you might want to eat healthier and your doctor telling you that you look like a slob, right? The same rules apply here—one is for your benefit and the other is just plain degrading.

It can be hard, though, to dismiss someone you may not be clicking with. But leaving your jewelry at the jewelers or making a big purchase can be a delicate situation, so don’t feel guilty for not being comfortable. If you and the employee at the jewelers are genuinely bumping heads, it’s okay to ask to speak with someone else. You can say something like, “Thank you for taking the time to help me, but I was wondering if there is another member of your team I may speak with who might be able to help me better understand?” If customer service is a number-one priority for the jewelry store—which it should be!—the employee will gladly oblige.

Try the same thing if the person you are dealing with is just plain rude (example: cranky and caffeine-less). Not every person working at a jewelry store is going to be all smiles, but it doesn’t mean that everyone there is grumpy, so it’s good to give other employees the benefit of the doubt. But if that doesn’t work for you, it’s okay to walk away and just leave. If someone is truly downright disrespectful to you, though, make sure you talk to the manager! He or she may not know the employee is acting this way. I once heard a horror story of an employee at a very small jeweler being mean to clients for over three years without the owner finding out. The storeowner had no idea that the employee who she had thought was super nice to her customers was actually being rude and disrespectful when she was not around. The owner only found out after the employee quit and all her clients said, “Oh, thank goodness! You know, she was very rude when you were not here!” The owner was mortified, as I would think any manager or owner would be. So, don’t be afraid to speak up when you’re being treated unprofessionally.

Even if you are being treated well, sometimes people just don’t feel comfortable leaving their jewelry with a specific jeweler. If this happens to you, don’t leave it. If the employee you are talking to is giving you a bad vibe of any kind, or you don’t like the look of the place for some reason, go somewhere else. It’s not worth the risk, and there are jewelers out there who are honest and happy to help you! Bad vibes are bad vibes. Take your business elsewhere.

If you are just not sure about leaving your jewelry somewhere for repair (let’s face it, it happens!) and want some help determining if the store you’re considering is reputable,there are tricks to finding a good jeweler. Your comfort is just as important, if not more so, than the quality you receive. Don’t settle for less than both.


Jess the Jeweler