The cardinal rule with using a family jeweller is trust. Whether you require a valuation, wish to sell your property, or have it repaired and cleaned, you’ll be handing over things that are sentimentally and actually very valuable. As a client seeking to purchase an item, you want to know that you can believe what you’re told about each piece. So you have to trust that the people you’re working with have a great depth of knowledge.
How will you know? Partly it’s based on reputation. If you don’t do things professionally in this business, very quickly you won’t have a business. Over the decades we have built up a reputation, both within the trade and within our community.People recommend us. They know we are not here today and gone tomorrow and that we are trading responsibly.
That’s why we have to be transparently honest in everything we do, all the time. Sometimes our rigorous honestly means telling a customer news they did not expect to hear. Sometimes we have to explain that what they think is worth a lot of money, unfortunately, is not. We come across this often, particularly with pearls. People say, “My grandmother said these were real pearls,” but close inspection shows that they are not in fact real but are in fact costume jewellery. Ultimately our clients do appreciate our candour, and we would always encourage them get a second opinion if that will help set their mind at ease.
The same principles hold true for our relationships with dealers. We work with people who are known to us. Bear in mind that there are very few businesses where you can phone someone up and say, “I need 20 pieces of jewellery for a client who wants to spend about £20,000-40,000” and he will send — on the strength of a phone call — potentially a couple of hundred thousand pounds worth of jewellery, with no deposit, no promise, and no payment. That is what we mean by trust. The dealer knows we are not going to run away with the jewellery. At Goodwins, we can do this with dealers around the world.
We have known dealers in the past whose cheque we would never take because we knew it could be problematic. Or we would not give them the item until the cheque had cleared. Luckily information is a phone call away. We can ring other trusted dealers and ask questions. If they say, “He’s fine, you can take his cheque,” then we know that the dealer is trustworthy.
Because we buy from our customers, as well, it’s important that over the years we’ve developed a sense for people. The goods have to marry up with the people selling them. We ask questions: “Where did you get this? Did you inherit it? Did you buy it from us?” and so on. We have to trust our sense of whether or not something’s amiss. In such a case we would not offer on the item. Plus, we only issue cheques and never pay cash, so there is a paper trail. That way if there is a problem later we can trace it all the way back.
It’s safe to say that we value our reputation just as much as the many precious items we stock. Honesty and integrity are more than words to us, they’re the foundation of our business.