When a client approaches you with a gemstone that they have held in their safe for many years, and asks you to set it into a wearable pendant for them, there are many questions to be asked for such a commission piece.
When a client approaches with a gemstone that was purchased on their travels through India, the first thing to consider is “What is it?”
In this case, the answer wasn’t so pleasant for the client. They thought that they had purchased a bargain. A stunning 20x25x15mm rich pink, without a single flaw, which had been sold to them as a genuine sapphire. Even at a market where jewellers themselves may be buying their stock, the price ought to have been an indicator that all is not necessarily as it seems.
The client approached us with the hope of having the piece set in rose gold, in an old baroque style setting that they had seen for a pendant, second hand online. Immediately the conversation began to unravel. The client has a vision, which is understandable. Unfortunately the engineering to carry it out may be more challenging.
First of all, the client had wanted to purchase the baroque pendant and have us set their stone into it. They had already approached the online seller of the antique setting to obtain a heavily discounted price, which had been declined. They thought that if another jeweller approached them directly as a trade exchange, then the discount might be achieved and passed directly onto them, the client. No consideration had been given whether the pendant setting was the right size for this magnificent large stone that they had brought along, or that there may be a cost applied to modifications required if such a need was required. Crash number one!
Next up is the stone itself. It was a rich, punchy colour, and had absolutely no flaws throughout its magnificent size. For a jeweller, this in itself is quite a flag. Purchased for £40, this piece ought be riddled with impurities, and other flaws. A piece this size and clarity is the stuff of newspaper headlines about Christie’s auction room having a special day of bidding. Weighing in at a massive 92karats, something is clearly very wrong! The client is absolutely adamant that this IS a genuine sapphire. We hand the stone back, and recommend that they take it elsewhere as we are clearly inadequate to provide the service the client is seeking.
This is a tale of the rebounding stone. The client came back, accepting that, perhaps, this stone isn’t a sapphire, so could it be morganite? Would we be prepared to make a rose gold mount from scratch for the stone, since the other seller isn’t moving on the second hand setting? Later that day, we email across a quotation for the rose gold setting made to their desired design, to fit their specific stone. The cost was not greeted with enthusiasm and an allegation of overcharging for the design work was received. We carefully explained that the price of rose gold bullion was the key driver to the cost and that we have no personal control over the price of bullion at any time. We referred them to the FT Index to check on the movement of gold prices as reference.
It is okay to shop around
Again, we suggested that it might be appropriate to obtain quotations from alternative jewellers. After a period of days, whereby we received several requests to adjust our quotation as they were sure we were overcharging for the design work, the client asked for our opinion of how to approach the setting of the stone.
When you have a client who is so certain of their knowledge and experience, it can be quite daunting to be faced with explaining to them the reality of their set of circumstances, in a way which will be received with a positive reception that reflect the good intentions held. This is the position we now faced. It was clear this client had no intention of taking the piece elsewhere for a quotation, and it wasn’t clear whether they already had at all.
What we did
Whilst the stone looked great, for what it was, it most certainly wasn’t a natural stone. Weighing in so heavy, so large, and flawless, it was, at best, a manmade zirconium. We recommended that it be set in silver, in a way which would allow the light to pass vibrantly through the facets, making it a cost effective way to enjoy it, and keeping it on a budget. So that’s what we did ….
We respect our clients desires for shiny things. We are in this business due to our own fancy for sparklies. There is a bigger moral to this story. At a later point, this client returned with a large pouch full of “expensive” trinkets, purchased during years of overseas travel, and asked Melody to take a look. Unfortunately, under the scrutiny of a simple jewellers loupe, in all the items which had been understood to be white gold set with precious gems, only a few of them were. Most had been stamped as .925 sterling silver, and some had received the most terrible irregular silver plating on top of some unknown metal base it was impossible to miss under simple magnification. It was heartbreaking to deliver such news to the client, particularly as this was years worth of collection and no possibility to redress the matter.