Site Review | Professional Jeweler

October 12, 1998

Ray Elsey has been a bench jeweler in the Portland, OR, area since 1967 and has owned his own trade shop for 25 years. He shares much of his experience on this Web site, an incredible information resource and example of what consumers are finding on-line.

Last year Elsey split with his long-time partner, who continued working for the trade, to deal directly with the public. Although the site promotes his business, there's a wealth of information on it. Consumers reading it will be better informed about fine jewelry products and the difference between good and poor quality - a point he makes particularly in his "Hall of Shame," where goofy graphics defame "mock" channel setting and thin shanks.

Elsey claims his Web site contains more than 3,600 elements, and users can easily spend hours browsing through all the pages, which are peppered with humor and good product photo reproductions. He thoroughly covers such topics as lost wax casting and diamond quality. He's not afraid to offer his opinions, however unpopular with the trade: "You're better off waitin' on the curb for the Publisher's Clearing House van than buying a fine diamond at retail prices as an investment." The page devoted to gemology includes a comprehensive list of gemstones, from mainstream to unusual, with links to pictures and descriptions, plus information about enhancements, cutting, grading and pricing.

Jewelers may be especially interested in the way Elsey cultivates his relationships with his clients on-line. As he finishes his pieces, he links each client's name and description of the project to a picture of the finished jewelry. The on-line "dedications" give customers credit for helping with the designs and are a friendly way to thank them for their patronage. He also holds client contests and giveaways.

Technically speaking: The site is mostly text and text-links, although there are some big graphics here and there that may slow load time.

- by Jack Heeger and Stacey King