Posted June 2, 2011 by Esslinger Staff
With such high gold prices even flakes of gold floating in the air has value! Everything is precious and valuable today. But how to handle all of the gold scrap, pieces that fall into the jewelers bench pan and on the floor?
It’s such a big topic today. I recently heard of a store that told the shop they had to GIVE TO management so many pennyweights of bench sweeps each month for so many dollars of monthly billing. You can’t figure you’ll get so much gold out of every $1000 of shop income. But why?
I spoke recently to Jewel-Craft in Kentucky (America’s largest trade shop with over 140 jewelers) and was told this fact: 5 years ago, for every 10 rings that came in for sizing, 3 were silver. Today, for every 3 rings that come in for sizing, 2 are silver.
But there’s still a lot of gold and platinum being repaired and lots of gold drops to the bottom of a jewelers pan. Besides bench dust there’s also always waste: at one store I visited, a jeweler’s bench had tons of gold odds and ends on top. These were extra heads and what-not ordered for one job “just in case I melted one” and weren’t returned for credit. If the jeweler needed 6mm in length of a thinner piece of metal, she rolled out 6”, wasting 5 ½”. There were old shanks too that had been removed.
So I got a scale and cleaned off her bench and weighed it. She had accumulated over $6000 of scrap waste and that was when gold was $350 an ounce! Imagine its value today.
There’s no magical calculation of how much scrap gold a bench will produce, there’s too many factors. The best thing to do is just have the jewelers clean their benches nightly. Here are some tips to keep your sweeps and loose scrap from walking out the door:
• Have the jewelers sweep the bottom of their bench pans nightly and put it into a coffee can with plastic top each night. You then take that canister and pour it all into a main one that’s kept in the safe or your office.
•If you order extra parts, when a job is done all extra parts are put back in the envelope and upon inspection by someone else, they are removed and returned to the vendor for credit or placed into a findings cabinet, labeled for future use.
• Although I didn’t request from the jewelers each sizing piece that was removed & put into a zip lock bag and put back in the job bag, we did request old parts (heads, catches, posts, etc) were placed in the envelope in a zip lock bag. Depending on what you do, it can either be returned to the customer or you can place those items in the coffee can in your office daily.
• Scan their bench tops weekly and remove wasted, non usable items like rolled out stock or put them back in the central location.
• Have a separate canister or trash can and put in their rubber wheels, emery paper and saw blades from the bottom of the bench pan. Assuming your shop has tile floor, when you sweep the area the dust pan results goes into that can as well. As does the polishing filters and dust. This is sent separately than gold sweeps to the refiner.
• If there’s carpet near or in the shop, the bags from the vacuum cleaner should be placed into the can holding dust and polishing machine cleanings.
I’m not telling you to not trust the jeweler, but we are talking about a large amount of valuables that can just “walk out the door”. Ever visited the Stuller facility? Their employees can only wear a wedding band and watch to work and upon entering and leaving work each day they are scanned, making the airport look like kindergarten.
In my father’s shop I learned that each jeweler was given the same amount of sizing stock and round wire along with so many pennyweights of solder. Everyone had the same amount in a small box. It limited theft. The vault had the remaining gold stock and only the shop foreman could hand out additional gold. We did basically the same thing and only the foreman had control of findings.
Before I implemented this system, after a jeweler quit, we discovered a large number of melted tiffany heads in his bench. He just had a hard time assembling heads & shanks and never told us so when he melted one he went to the cabinet and got another. Once we started keeping better control of our findings we’d discover a problem like this early on and train the jeweler to prevent it from happening in the future.
When we moved our store to its third location, we took up all of the linoleum from the shop, polish and casting area along with most of the carpet in the office area that was next to the shop. After sending it to a refiner we received nearly $5000.
When we switched from a using a polisher with regular air conditioner filters to a heavy duty stand up polishing machine with great suction and burlap filters, we noticed that our polishing room walls were cleaner and when we sent in the filters, we got $4500 credit from the dust and polishing sweeps instead of the $1700 we got previously. This was in 1990 when gold was a measly $400 an ounce.
David Geller, Jeweler Profit