By Eileen R. Eichhorn

When I was young and my mother took me shopping for clothes we studied how a garment was constructed prior to purchasing. How well it was manufactured, what materials it was made from and where it was made was important enough to her to share with me.  I seldom could try a dress on unless it passed her muster. Hats and gloves were more critiqued. In the sixties, not one Easter did the ritual of selection skip the inspection detail. The time I spent shopping with her is priceless to me. It determined my destiny in more ways than I’m sure she ever envisioned! My career path of costume design in the theater as well as accessorizing fashions was cemented firmly.

I am constantly in awe of the construction techniques used today in jewelry manufacturing vs. years ago.  Because we clean and check jewelry routinely we did not sell as well as items we did sell the dichotomy is mind blowing. Shortcuts to cut costs initially and improve appearance abound: but long term – beware! A common theme for several years running is shared prongs. Where this process impresses sparkle by limiting metal around diamonds and other gemstones may successfully be employed, the disadvantage is when too little metal or porosity is subsequently noticed and creates an accessory that cannot be worn without loss of stones. So common is this, I am compelled to alarm the wearer unfamiliar with the hidden tactics of mostly overseas cast-in-place manufacturing. This is not to say that this method cannot be accomplished successfully by some both here and abroad. We do sell cast in place jewelry, but the manufacturers we represent have undergone rigorous scrutiny before their products enter our showcases. They warrant their merchandise which is a tribute to their longevity. We insist.

Recently a ring we did not sell came in for inspection. It was a time sensitive ‘quick look’ and yet I remembered seeing this exact ring just weeks before. It is a beautiful ring but cannot be practically worn daily. Such a shame to the young woman who received it for her engagement ring. She admitted it had been returned to the place of purchase for diamonds to be replaced more than once. Unfortunately, nothing can be done to better the design. It is what it is. Someone sold her fiance’ the ring. I doubt if construction was ever discussed. Even more troubling is that no conversation about her job and how she would wear the ring entered the seller’s or buyer’s mind, I’m sure. If it had been a more practical style of better construction it could have been purchased for a little more money. That design would, hopefully, last a lifetime and perhaps into the next generation.