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Value For Money?

When is something seemingly too cheap or too dear?

I want to look at the latter first – the phrase ‘too dear’. Is the phrase or indeed the word ‘dear’ the correct word for what I mean and attempting to get across in this blog.

Some others I could use are, expensive, pricey, costly, extortionate, exorbitant. Too ‘dear, expensive, pricey, and costly’ could be lumped together as a response to your own personal spend capability. This, however, does not necessarily mean the item, for its quality, is over-priced. Extortionate and exorbitant are more along the lines of what I am trying to get across. Generally, both words mean overpriced or excessive.

To purchase something of quality you need to pay a certain amount. However, at times, things can and are too expensively priced for their quality. Within the jewellery industry there are numerous companies who, in my opinion, over charge for the quality of their products and some come into the extortionate or exorbitant bracket. For legal reasons I obviously can’t name names.

I am rather discerning and very particular when it comes to quality. Coming away from the jewellery trade and looking at women’s fashion the most obvious and ridiculous is the pricing of some designer handbags at many hundreds and into the thousands of pounds. Over the past number of years, while shopping with my wife, I have had the opportunity to be able to inspect some of these clutch and handbags. In general, they are very well made of quality leather, fully lined with quality zips and or security fittings and some with chain straps. Although of good quality and considering these are mass, or at the very least, of limited- production, in my opinion, they are well overpriced, so my conclusion is that you are paying for the ‘Designer’ names.

In recent weeks I have had a consultation with a prospective client looking to purchase a bespoke handmade dress ring that can be worn daily. She confessed, over the past number of years, with a yearly bonus, she has spent regularly over £1,000 on ‘designer’ handbags and have numerous now that never see the light of day as they are in the wardrobe! Having a ring that could be worn daily and have pleasure from, seemed a better option. This client has now ordered a special ring in excess of £4,000!

As far as male fashion clutch-bags or ‘man bags’ I have not investigated, so the only comparison I can relate men’s ‘fashion’ to, are designer watches. The watches I refer to are generally stainless steel or ceramic and are quartz whether battery or solar powered. Some of these watches can command up to and well over £1,000. When you consider the cost of a quartz movement is only between £5 and £20 depending on the quality, then you realise how extortionately or exorbitantly priced some of these watches are.

If an item or product seems too cheap at normal price (I am not referring to end of range or sale items) then you have to ask questions about the quality, or if the item or product is fit for purpose. The adage of ‘if you buy cheap, you buy twice’ generally is true. To buy an item of the correct quality that is fit for purpose and that will last as long as is required, or expected to, you need to pay a reasonable price.

Having something handmade is generally a different ball game altogether, however, you can still get or have something that is handmade, is priced accordingly yet not of particularly good quality. Before commissioning an individual or company to make a handmade ‘original’ item you must seek to find out about their reputation and if possible, investigate works already carried out and be discerning.

Having that dress or suit made to measure could give you a look that’s a cut above the rest. But how good is the needle work?

With the likes of Savile Row in London the reputation of the various tailors precedes them. The obvious difference is that shirts, suits, shoes, etc, are hand made to fit the client’s frame perfectly with the highest quality of cutting and needle work. This obviously has a cost implication both from the time hand making, also the high rent and rates cost of the premises in the heart of London.

The benefits of having such items handmade is, as I have previously said, that the item fits your frame perfectly, is made from quality materials and the stitching has been done with care and attention not like a mass-produced item that has been made at speed in a sweat shop somewhere around the world.

In a similar vein, I handmake all my items, rings, bangles, pendants, earrings etc. from wrought metal. This is vastly different from 99.9% of items purchased in a retail outlet which will have been made from casting. A cast alloy is softer and far less durable than a wrought metal item which is extremely important to the long-term wear and tear of rings, especially all gem-set rings such as engagement, gem set wedding, eternity and dress rings.

I handmake all my own settings, generally from platinum, and hand forge the shanks of the rings which allows for far better wear and tear, safer settings and harder wearing shanks. All this allows for a finish with greater finesse yet a far more durable finish. I also consider the size and shape of clients’ hands and fingers and advise a style that would best suit the client.

With other items such as bracelets, pendants and earrings I do likewise and aim to advise a style that would suit the client’s bone structure and / or frame.

Many jewellers advertise or say they handmake however use either one piece castings or with some rings a cast head and shank which they solder together before setting the stone or stones. Do not be mis-lead or miss-understand as this is not handmaking but hand finishing which is QUITE different!

Handmaking, as opposed to using castings, has a price implication, however, as we are not on the high street in a city centre or in a shopping arcade, our overhead costs are not the same. This benefit, we can pass on to our clients, which means the client gets a far better quality item or product, at a price that doesn’t reflect the benefits, in other words at an extraordinary value for money.

“It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money – that’s all. When you pay too little, you sometimes lose everything, because the thing you bought was incapable of doing the thing it was bought to do.
The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot – it can’t be done. If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run and if you do that you will have enough to pay for something better.”

– John Ruskin