When you approach a typical shopping mall looking for jewellery it’s a good idea to keep in mind the difference between a Master Craftsman and a shopkeeper. This will give you the best chance of purchasing a memorable piece of jewellery which will serve you well for years to come.
This kind of consideration doesn’t normally enter one’s thoughts when one goes shopping. But shopping for jewellery can be a whole different affair. This is because it is extremely personal and, more likely than not, expensive. So you’ll want the best advice and a trustworthy source.
These days there are a plethora of stores offering jewellery in the typical shopping mall. That’s why it’s handy to remember the value of dealing with a Master Craftsman. If you go in to the ordinary jewellery store you will most likely encounter a shopkeeper – someone who owns or manages the shop. Their attitude will most likely be that they are offering a product to sell to the customer.
Typically, the salesperson will have little knowledge of their products, but possess considerable skills in salesmanship. And the shop will usually buy the pieces they believe will sell at the cheapest price possible. Then they will add the highest profit margin that falls in line with what the shop feels the customer is willing to spend.
The shopkeeper and owner are rarely creative and driven by turnover.
Now compare this to the craftsman who is skilled in a particular trade or craft with a high degree of practical and theoretical knowledge of their trade. In a jewellery store the bench jeweller is such a person who utilises his/her skills to create and repair jewellery.
In the creation of jewellery, there are two major categories of production. First there is the production of copies via processes such as molding, casting, stamping and the like. Second, there is the more important role of creating an original one-of-a-kind piece. The required skills include antique restoration. (goldsmithing and repairs), stone setting, engraving, fabrication, wax carving, casting, electroplating, forging and polishing.
The term Master Craftsman (sometimes called Master or Grandmaster) comes from being a member of a guild. In Europe there was a guild system which required all members to be Masters. An aspiring master would have to pass through the career chain from apprentice to journeyman before he/she could be elected to become a Master Craftsman. In addition, it required that they produce a sum of money as well as a masterpiece before being admitted to the guild.
Now if the creation was not good enough and was turned down by the Masters, then that person could not join the guild. Instead, they had to remain journeymen for the rest of their lives.
In Germany the Master Craftsman is not only the highest qualification, but also the only one qualified to be allowed to train apprentices. This was regulated by German Law.
The Master Craftsman designs and plans a piece, then utilises his/her skill and creativity to work with extremely expensive metals and rare stones to then manufacture a piece to the most exacting standards – the highest form of Craftsmanship.
Master Craftsmen who are not running their own business usually have a leading position in the company. Many companies prefer a Master Craftsman instead of a university graduate as a technical manager as their education is more practical and they possess good theoretical skills and business knowledge. They can design a piece that both suits specifications and comes within a set budget.
Master Craftsman who run their own business ensure their customers are comfortable with the knowledge that they have the highest skill available and give honest, professional and considered advice for the piece that best suits
Master Craftsman have a reputation to uphold not only through their work and skill but also via word-of-mouth – the best recommendation of all.
The Master Craftsman that is a shopkeeper wins in my book!