THE JA QUALITY ASSURANCE GUIDE
You can create a profitable partnership with your bench jewelers by
using Jewelers of America's new Quality Assurance Guide to explain to consumers
the qualities of well-made jewelry when they bring in goods for repair
by Mark B. Mann Director of Professional Certification Jewelers of
In its continuing quest to raise the standards of professionalism throughout
the industry, Jewelers of America has developed the "JA Quality Assurance
Guide." The Guide - a portion of which will appear in Professional
Jeweler each month - will also be available as a manual and a series
of counter cards. It is designed to help sales associates, bench jewelers
and store managers to communicate clearly with customers and each other,
identifying needed repairs, explaining the causes and consequences of problems
and illustrating good workmanship.
Each month, we'll highlight some ways the "JA Quality Assurance
Guide" can help you to set and maintain standards for quality performance
in sales and repairs. By educating your personnel and your customers about
aspects of quality, you will garner greater customer satisfaction and higher
sales and profits.
Our monthly topics will be based on the most common areas of potential
failure in an article of jewelry, whether resulting from extended normal
wear or errors in workmanship, and show how the "JA Quality Assurance
Guide" can help in the proper identification of the problem, careful
in-spection and assessment of all facets of the situation and communication
of the causes, problems and potential consequences of various actions.
Using the Guide for Repairs
The teamwork necessary to deliver excellent customer service - in sales
and repairs - means all levels of store personnel must fully understand
the components of quality in a piece of jewelry. The "JA Quality Assurance
Guide" is a teaching tool useful for customer and in-house education;
use them to explain two major issues to the customer:
- The feasibility of the requested repair.
- Areas of potential future failure.
It's important to cover these two points because if the piece fails because
of any problem soon after the repair - even for an unrelated problem - the
customer may perceive the repair caused the failure. As Bill and Craig Underwood
of Underwood's Fine Jewelry, Fayetteville, AR, say, "Who gets blamed
when a stone falls out a week after a ring is sized? You do." That's
why it's important to be sure the piece is examined thoroughly and the customer
is educated as to its condition and what that condition signifies.
We're grateful to Underwood's for sharing this original concept of using
illustrations to show proper vs. problematic jewelry workmanship.
If the sales associate determines the ring, besides needing sizing, also
has prongs that are worn to the danger point, for example, he or she can
recommend prong repair. The sales associate can also use a prong setting
counter card available from JA to illustrate clearly for the customer the
difference between worn prongs and prongs in proper condition. This communication
educates the customer and reduces the risk of later problems; it also gives
the customer added confidence in the sales associate's level of knowledge
You can see how the quest for quality service and the use of the "JA
Quality Assurance Guide" in this instance leads to greater customer
satisfaction and added revenue (the repronging repair) within a totally
ethical setting. (On the other hand, a customer may ask for a repair that
examination shows isn't necessary or beneficial. In this case, you may have
lost a minor repair job, but you've gained major points for loyalty - and
The Guide in a Sales Situation
You'll also find the "JA Quality Assurance Guide" valuable in
maximizing sales opportunities. For example, a customer considering the
purchase of a diamond ring should know the setting is as important as the
stone. The sales associate can show the customer illustrations of a properly
set diamond and then examine a mounted diamond using the Gem Scope or an
imaging system. As a sales tool, you can use the drawings in the "JA
Quality Assurance Guide" to demonstrate the quality of the store's
Versatile Tool for Your Team
We hope you'll enjoy this month's guide feature, "Prong Setting."
Here's a little test. The photo above shows a mounted center stone. Use
it and the guide's standards shown on the following pages to determine whether
the stone is set properly and, if not, what the problems and potential failures
Next month we'll discuss the standards for ring sizing - the variables,
the average amount of shank thickness lost during the sizing process and
the various features of sizing rings up and down. Keep these monthly features
and share them with your colleagues - this is how professionals boost knowledge,
skills and the ability to work as a coordinated team to do the best possible
job for themselves, their coworkers, their industry and their customers.
Who will use it?
The "JA Quality Assurance Guide" can be used by:
- Sales associates taking in a piece of jewelry. It helps them to explain
the repair or reconstruction situation to the customer and then to the
bench jeweler. It will ensure expectations were met when returning the
finished piece to the customer. It also will help sales associates to explain
a piece's high quality standards when selling.
- Bench jewelers as a reference, so the quality of their workmanship
meets commonly agreed upon standards.
- Manufacturers' quality control personnel reviewing their products before
- Retail quality control personnel inspecting jewelry before it's placed
- Appraisers inspecting and placing estimates of value on jewelry pieces.
Wait, there's more
You can supplement the information we provide in these articles with material
from a number of other sources, including:
- JA counter cards. Each one is designed to highlight a different feature
that should be assessed while taking in and repairing jewelry. You can
collect and compile these counter cards from monthly articles in Professional
Jeweler or from JA in booklet form. (Available quarterly through 1998.)
- References to the new book series, Professional Jewelry Repair
by Alan Revere, head of the Revere Academy in San Francisco. This series
covers the manufacturing steps of repair and reconstruction.
- Manufacturing columns written by JA-certified bench jewelers and offering
hands-on, step-by-step tips relating to the topic of the featured repair
(look for these in upcoming issues of Professional Jeweler).
Mark B. Mann is director of professional certification for Jewelers
of America, where he is implementing the new Bench Jeweler Certification
program, developing and working with the Sales Associate and Store Manager
Certification programs, and reviewing other certification program options.
He began his career in his family's jewelry store, where his interests pointed
him toward jewelry design and manufacturing. In the past 25 years, he has
been a bench jeweler, educator and owner of a jewelry manufacturing company.
THE JA QUALITY ASSURANCE GUIDE
Proper Prong Setting
This drawing illustrates the important features apparent when a round
brilliant stone is set properly into a die-struck head. The surface of each
prong is smooth, rounded and polished. The height of the prong is between
70% and 80% of the height of the table (arrow 1).
Each prong is bent and securely formed over the stone's crown so the metal
of the prong is flat and even against the crown (arrow 2).
Each prong has an angle cut into it to accommodate and conform to the stone's
shape, providing a secure seat on which the stone can rest evenly (arrow
The "heel" of each prong is no less than 50% of the prong's original
thickness, providing structural strength for years of trouble-free wear
Potential Prong Problems
Prong Thin at Heel
If the "heel" of a prong is thin (less than 50% of the prong's
original thickness), it may catch, bend and break easily. A stone set with
a thin prong will never stay tight. Thin prongs may result from normal wear
or errors in workmanship.
Prong Thin at Top
If the top of a prong is this thin, it will catch, bend and eventually
break off, resulting in loss of the stone. Prongs that are thin at the top
are caused by extended normal wear or errors in workmanship.
If the prong is shaped with a hook like this, the stone will seem tightly
set at first but will loosen within a short time. This type of prong will
break, resulting in a lost stone. Hooked prongs are caused by an error in
Upright prongs cause uptight customers. If the top of the prong is shaped
like this, it will catch on fibers and clothing (a common cause of ruined
pantyhose) and eventually bend farther back until the stone loosens or falls
out. Upright prongs are caused by an error in workmanship.
Prongs Lacking "Bearing"
"Bearing" refers to the angle cut into a prong to accommodate
and conform to the stone's shape; the angle provides a secure resting place
for the stone. A prong with no bearing gives little or no support for the
stone, which will tip or become loose. Lack of bearing results from an error
Prongs Cut With A Saw
Cutting prongs with a saw is a fast way to set a stone and an even faster
way to lose it. Cutting with a saw weakens prongs.
Incorrect Prong Angle
Prongs normally have an angle of 70 to 80. This prong is angled out too
steeply; normal wear and tear may cause the prong to bend farther outward,
resulting in a loosened or lost stone. Incorrect prong angle is the result
of an error in workmanship.
Prongs Too Low
There should be between 33% and 50% contact between the surface of the
top of the prong and the crown of the stone. This prong is too low, so there
is insufficient contact with the stone. When the stone is bumped during
normal wear, prongs that are too low will bend back and the stone will be
lost. With more contact area, the stone may loosen but will not fall out.
The combination of incorrect prong angle and low prongs will always result
in a lost stone. Copyright © 1998 by Bond Communications.