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Jewellers should heed these pearls of wisdom

There are numerous opportunities for jewellers in the pearl category, particularly in providing care and maintenance services for strands and jewellery, writes JUNE MANN.

Have you thought of offering “pearl services”? With the current economic situation due to COVID-19, customers may be less inclined to spend money on new jewellery. But have you thought of providing pearl care information to customers, and services to “refresh” customers’ pearl jewellery?

A lot of people have been sorting through their house during lockdown, and they may have come across some strands of pearls.

Jewellers know that pearls need to be much more carefully handled and cleaned than other precious gemstones to keep them in good condition.

Pearls do not ‘like’ light, heat or excessively high or low humidity; metals and other materials can scratch them as pearls are generally rated 2.5-4.5 on Mohs’ scale; and even perspiration can damage a pearl’s delicate nacre.

Each time a pearl is worn, it needs to be wiped gently with a very soft cloth afterwards.

Do your customers know that? Maybe not!

I keep seeing pearls that have been damaged through years of ‘abuse’, including my own very old strand of pearls which have been subjected to everything from perfumes to shower gel – and even hair-perming solution.

This strand was left powdery white by my years neglect – mind you, this was years ago, and before I developed my interest in pearls!

For mild damage, jewellers can use special cloths that will clean and refresh the pearls. They are inexpensive and quite effective. However, for more serious damage, machinery may be necessary.

My damaged strand was too far gone to refresh with the cloth, but was brought
back to life thanks to the re-polishing machine from Pearl Science Laboratory in Japan – and some dogged determination on my side.

“Jewellers could run pearl care workshops for customers, online or in-store, as well as offering ‘spruce-up’ services.”

The result was quite impressive, however, prevention is better than cure.

Jewellers could run pearl care workshops for customers, online or in-store, as well as offering ‘spruce-up’ services.

Restringing is another service you can offer. You might think restringing pearls
is difficult, and I agree; doing the knotted finish well is not easy at all and it requires rather a lot of practice to get right.

You also need to do it regularly maintain the skill.

However, there is a perfectly viable, easy and long-lasting alternative that produces a good result, and that is to use a stainless steel, flexible bead stringing wire (7x7 is preferable due to its superior flexibility), tiny silicone cushions, and click-in-place or screw-in crimps – which look much better than crimps you squash.

You could also replace the clasps with something more fancy or user-friendly while you re-string them too.

New clasps with fancy designs can really bring a strand of pearls to life. Not only that, but they also enable people who struggle with small spring-ring clasps to put the necklace on themselves.

With the right tools – which you probably already have – parts and instructions, almost anyone can learn to re-strand pearls with wire in less than a day.

Another advantage is that good quality stainless steel wires are very hard- wearing and simply won’t snap like silk threads, especially when they are Nylon coated.

The finished necklaces have a different look from using a thread-and-knotted finish. n no way am I knocking the knotted finish, however re-stringing with wire is something you could easily offer in your store, and it does not take a huge amount of practice.

I am advocating it as something you could do to gain a revenue stream when the sales may be down due to the economic situation.

Expanding from that, once you can re-string pearls with wire, your options also expand.

Combining a strand of pearls with other types of beads is easy, and you could even create a ‘new’ bracelet and necklace set from the customer’s existing strand of pearls by adding different types of beads.

So, to summarise, while the sale of new jewellery may be down, you could quite easily offer the following services:

  • Pearl care workshops online or in-store;
  • Pearl cleaning and refreshing services;
  • Pearl restringing services, with or without clasp replacement;
  • Creation of new pieces using the customer’s existing pearls, with some additional beads/parts.

Hopefully, by offering helpful services, you will retain customers.

Then when the economy improves, your customers will choose your store to buy their new pieces – pearls and otherwise!

Name: June Mann
Company: Pearl Specialists
Position: Director
Location: Queensland, and Europe
Years in Industry: 6


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