We've spilled a fair amount of ink discussing the differences between true custom, and mass-manufacturing; but I've got to write about a recent phenomenon that has really driven the point home.
The "post" is the part of the earring that actually goes in your ear. In this example, it is 0.03" in diameter, just over 1/3" long, and weighs 5 / 100ths of a gram in 14k gold.
This is, as one would expect, a very affordable component, and one that I would have thought would never be the victim of the corporate pursuit to make everything as cheap as humanly possible...
I was wrong.
Lately, we've seen multiple pieces come in with hollow posts.
Since none of our suppliers carry anything like this, I scoured the internet to find a supply company listing them for sale. My Korean's a bit rusty, but I pulled the specs as best I could to make sure we're giving them a fair shake.
One pair of hollow posts versus one pair of solid posts, each in 14k gold, should save roughly $4.45 on today's market.
In exchange for this less-than-a-Lincoln of savings, you are cutting out a whopping 80% of the mass, and exponentially reducing the structural integrity of the one tiny piece of metal that holds your investment safely on your person.
I said a moment ago we've seen these "come in."
That means "come in for repair."
The walls of these hollow posts are barely above the thickness of gold applied during gold plating - with nothing inside. As one might anticipate, they cannot hold up to wear and tear nearly as well as their solid siblings.
The worst part of all of this is
customers have no idea.
The open end is soldered to the earring, so you can't see that it's hollow (until it breaks).
They're technically real gold, so they don't have to be marked in any special way.
You're not being given the option "would you like to lose most of your security in exchange for the price of a house salad?" It's just what certain companies are doing by default to make their product look even more affordable, and / or add to their bottom line. As we've discussed before, it's an economy of scale: They save $4.45 on each piece, and for every thousand or ten thousand units sold, that adds up to very real profits.
As I mentioned above, I couldn't even find these listed with any of our suppliers here in the states, and I don't personally know any jewelers who would use them... knowingly.
However, I know a lot of jewelers who carry lines that are mass-manufactured, and made with the intent of selling at lower-than-usual prices for better-than-usual markups. I can't guarantee they're selling earrings with hollow posts - but I'd want to make sure they can guarantee they aren't.
Most importantly, this is a small example of the bigger problem.
There are companies mass-producing decent qualities, but more often than not what we see is companies cutting corners everywhere they can. That means thinning and hollowing metals, setting poorly, using machines rather than human artists for various applications, choosing lower quality materials, and more.
J. Fox Custom has never claimed to be the cheapest jeweler in town. That's not what we're about. We don't believe in cutting corners, or compromising on quality.
What that means is you can rest assured that when your project is in our hands, we're going to treat it like it was our own.
Whether we're repairing, building new, or even helping you find something that already exists, we go to great lengths to make sure the quality lives up to your expectations.