Monday, May 17, 2010

What would you do?

Okay, I have this problem and I am anxious to get advice from my fellow jewelry makers.

About 7 years ago, I made a bracelet for a co-worker of mine. It was for her daughter. It was right about the time I started selling my work, and it is certainly a different style than what I typically do now. You have probably seen bracelets like this - it featured the names of her children in sterling silver letter cube beads, surrounded by Swarovski crystal beads, pearls, and other pretties. At the time she had 3 children, so it was a double stranded bracelet. I charged her $80 for it. She loved it, wore it every day, etc.... However, she is a nurse - a profession that demands quite a bit of physical activity that might not be suited for jewelry. Needless to say, the bracelet broke one day and I fixed it for her. I was horrified that this happened and felt so bad.

Then...... a little while later it broke again. If this has ever happened to you as a jewelry maker, it is quite embarrassing because you don't want the person to think that you do crummy work. So, I fixed it again. Of course, when something breaks, sometimes not all the beads can be found so I had to replace some.

Now the situation started to get weird.... over the course of the years I think I have had to repair that bracelet about a dozen times. I am not joking. Since I do not keep alphabet beads on hand, I have had to place special orders to replace some of them. Also, since I had used up some of the other beads I had originally used in the bracelet, those had to be replaced too. I came to realize that this was not a problem with how I made jewelry, but that the wearer was being too rough on it. I had tried everything - double crimping, enforcing it anyway I could think of. It was not hard for me to imagine her catching it on a bed when she might have been moving somebody, but seriously??? Her mother (my co-worker) started to pay me to repair it, but it was still awkward every time. Each time I had to repair it, my tension level went up a bit. I have so little free time as it is, I want to spend it creating something not repairing something. The whole thing has become very irritable for me.

Well, I ran into her one day last week and guess what? The bracelet is broken again. She hasn't given it to me yet, but I am baffled at what I should do. Especially considering the fact that I will continue to see her at work. What would you do? Help! I feel like this bracelet is going to plague me for the rest of my life!


Layney Dasher said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

OMG... this is crazy timing that you should post this. I have a similar situation. I made a bracelet for my mom's friend at her work, and the darn thing has broken 3 times, and 3 times I have repaired it!

I don't know what it could be either, I think some people are just heavy on their jewelry. My mother swears she isn't rough at all, and I just can't believe that it just breaks out of the blue. This past weekend, the last time I fixed I told my mom, this was the last time. We will see what happens.... Same thing though, I had to replace beads, I don't use anymore, and I have gone out of my way to enforce it and double check that it doesn't break again, looking for the best pieces to repair it. I haven't had this problem with anyone else - and am beginning to wonder myself what to do.

Maybe make a new policy or something about repairs. Or possibly some sort of warranty. As for this one that you have repaired over and over - I'd say it is out of its time of warranty.LOL

The only sugestion I think of is, that possibly the letter beads are too heavy. I feel that some of the beads on the bracelt I've repaired recently, are just too heavy for the design, and the weight of them alone, with hand movements of its wearer, just puts strain on it. Maybe you could find a lighter weight of material.

Not sure if I was much help, but I can relate. Good Luck.... let us know how it turns out.


Marie Cramp said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I agree with Layney. St a warranty date and let her know you won't be fixing it anymore. Enough is enough! Perhaps you could offer to turn it into a necklace with the letters making a pendant, perhaps then it would not break?

Tough call, but as uncomfortable as it may be, it needs to stop, you can not keep going in this direction.

Good Luck!

bellajoya said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I totally agree with Marie. Offer to make it into a necklace. Talk to her about how much sturdier a necklace is and how it will survive the bumps and bruises that a bracelet will not.
If she's a nurse, it's not your work that faulty, it's just that that bracelet takes a lot of beating. I'm surprised that she's allowed to wear jewelry as a nurse?
I hope that this helps!

Katsui Jewelry said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Those darn mother's bracelets. Have you talked to her about it being a particularly fragile and special bracelets...that is made for special occasion wearing...out on a date, to church, to a wedding, and should not be used in everyday life.

I despise those bracelets. Yes, I went through that stage, too. And they were a hot seller. it was always a problem of finding the alphabet beads again. Many places got different or more fancy beads and it made me a little nuts!

A friend is adopting a child and asked me to add his name when it became finalized. I wanted to much to say, "No, I don't do those anymore" but it's an adoption and she's a all excited and she loves the what could I say?

I said, "Yes." Here we go again!


Come and visit us at our new blog...
Kat and Suz

peacockfairy said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Thanks everyone for all the advice! I am glad I am not the only one going through a situation like this. I was starting to think I was crazy!

Gardanne said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Maybe her Mom needs to have a heart to heart with her about not wearing it at work. Maybe a policy to repair it for free once, but they would have to pay for replacement beads.
The Mom should stop paying for the repairs, she will be a little more careful if she has to pay for it every time.
Thanks for bringing this up, it would be smart to include this in your shop policies.

Vintage Blue Studio said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Maybe you should suggest turning it into a necklace since she clearly is waaaaaay too hard on it in its current bracelet form.

TesoriTrovati said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I agree. I think I would try to talk to the wearer directly and explain that this is obviously not a good design choice for her work. If she insists on wearing it daily, I would recommend turning it into a necklace. She is obviously too hard on this. Or what about putting it on memory wire? That stuff seems nearly indestructible.

I am in a similar situation right now. One of my most regular and prolific customers is always giving me their jewelry box treasures to update, which is great. This last go around i got little direction other than to make these trade beads into a necklace, bracelet, earring set. I did. And tried something new by adding silk sari to the design. I explained that this would continue to soften and fray and that is part of the charm. Now the entire set is coming back. I have to cut it apart and restring it because they now decide they don't like the clasp and there is no way to do it without taking it fully apart. I will fix it and I will make it rather safe in design. But this is hard becuase I am too swamped right now planning my gallery exhibit that I just don't have the time to devote to it.

Good luck, Heather. Let us know how it turns out.

Enjoy the day!

Silver Parrot said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Sounds like you've already gotten all the best advice: set a time limit on your warranty (mine is 1 year), offer to make it into a necklace, etc.

I went through the whole "kid's name" bracelet stage, too. I think everyone who has been beading for a while has done this.

I also went through a spell where a bunch of stuff kept breaking and it took me a while to realize that I had a batch of bad crimps. They were somehow thinner and more brittle than my other crimps and wouldn't hold up to wear. I never ordered from that supplier again and haven't had any more problems.

Emily Wohlscheid said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

I think this might be every jewelry maker's greatest fear... I would have to agree that my first thought was to make it into a necklace, but I wonder if memory wire would be a more durable alternative? Otherwise, I wonder if you might suggest something like stamping the names into a small strip of copper much like the traditional name bracelets people use to wear and then doing a wrapped loop component on either side with some of the beads like your rosaries? it would be lighter weight, certainly more durable, AND most importantly it would be closer to the style of your current work. Just some thoughts... good luck with this Heather, I've had to restring a few old pieces I made for friends long ago but nothing this crazy.

Alice said... Best Blogger Tips[Reply to comment]Best Blogger Templates

Sorry you are having to go through this. Like the others said, put a policy in place that repairs will be done for free the first time, but future repairs will incur a repair fee along with the cost of components, shipping etc.

As for your friend, encourage her to wear it when not at work (as others mentioned), and let her know that you will be charging her full price for your time, the high shipping costs of purchasing a small amount of beads, and any other components required to repair the bracelet, Let her know just how much it will cost her to have it repaired, and then make sure she knows this will be the last time. Maybe that will make her be more careful with the special piece.