Monday, June 16, 2014

Treading Lightly Through the Friend Zone

I’m a jeweler.  I have friends that like my jewelry. Every once in a while, I’ll have one who wants me to create something special for them. I love that my friends like my jewelry and want me to make something special for them!  I don’t, however, like to use their stones to create that special item. This is why…

When you create jewelry using stones, you always take a risk that the stone will get cracked, scratched or otherwise ruined.  Setting a stone takes pressure with metal tools.  Metal tools can damage a stone in a split second.  One slip and you’ve just scratched it.  One push just a little too hard on the bezel has just cracked the stone.  If it’s my stone, it’s my loss.  I won’t say it’s no big deal, because it usually is.  Chances are the setting was made specifically for that stone and another stone just won’t fit in it.  So now I have to find another stone and remake the setting.   But if it’s someone else’s stone, I’ve just destroyed something that a friend was attached to enough to want me to create something special with it.  Now I have to find another, and it needs to be a perfect match.  Maybe you’re not even 100% sure of what kind of stone it was, or what replacing it will cost.  What a headache!

Second, there’s pricing the item. I think that most people think that if they go to a friend to do something for them, you’re going to give them the “friend” price.  So you’re expected to cut them a deal on something that you’re already agonizing over.  Great!  Plus, they supplied the stone, so that should knock quite a bit off the price, right?  Wrong!!!  Those of us who create with our hands sometimes do a little fudging.  Sometimes we used the perceived value of our materials to recoup some of the losses we’ve made time-wise.  Most people think we can just wave our magic wand (torch) over the metal to create a beautiful piece.  In reality, we may have had problem after problem crop up, making the piece take twice as long as it should’ve.  We need to make that money up somewhere.  That’s where we hope the beautiful stone looks worth that price, or the amount of metal in a piece makes that piece worth every cent.

Finally, there’s the fact that we really do want our friend to like the piece we’ve just created for them.  What if they don’t like it?  Do they admit they don’t like it?  Or do they just suck it up and pay for it, only to stick it in a drawer, never to be seen again?  If they don’t like it and tell you they don’t like it, will that damage your friendship?  Do they want their stone pulled back out, damaging the setting and destroying the whole piece?  Do you have to buy their stone from them?  But maybe they do like what you’ve done with it.  Great!  That’s excellent news!  But they don’t like the price. Great… now what?  Cut them that deal and get mad at them and yourself for letting them talk you down?  Hold firm to your price and run the risk of them getting mad at you? 

It’s all so hard!  I love when friends see one of my pieces and just have to have it.  The price is right there, the design is already done, and they can take it or leave it.  It’s up to them, and I love it that way!  Please, buy from me, but please don’t ask me to do something with one of your stones.  It’s too much pressure!  I want everyone to be happy with my jewelry, and I certainly don’t want to lose a friend over it!  Sadly, I think maybe it's already happened.

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