by Suzan Evans.
(Lakefield, Ontario, Canada)
I recently did a jewellery show in a seniors’ residence. An elderly resident asked me if I could restring her pearl necklace.
I told her I would take a look at it and tell her if I would be able to repair it. Her husband had given it to her fifty years ago so it held a great deal of sentimental value.
I looked at it. It was a very old three strand necklace.
I pointed out to her that it was not knotted, and the clasp would need to be changed.
I told her I could fix it – but that it would be done as it was, not knotted. I felt confident that I could repair it for her so I brought it home.
For the past two days I have agonized over this necklace.
I managed to salvage the clasp, but never having worked with pearls on silk thread, I could not get it to look right, no matter how hard I tried.
She told me when I took it, “I trust you”.
What I learned from working on it was how to do it, but I was not able to get it to look right, no matter how much I tried.
I picked up the phone and called Helen (the owner of the necklace) and told her that no matter how hard I tried, I could not get her necklace to look right.
I was very open with her and she said, “at least you are honest.”
I simply could not give her what did not meet with my standards – and my standards are quite high.
I cannot tell you how relieved I felt and how proud I was of myself to honor this part of me.
Good for you, Suzan!
I was stressing out right along with you while reading your story here.
It’s so hard to not be able to provide customers with what they ask for (especially when they are sweet elderly people who honor you with their trust!).
It must have been so hard to pick up the phone and tell her you wouldn’t be able to do what she asked.
But how lucky Helen is that you do have such high standards and honesty!
I too am proud of you for honoring your standards without wavering. Your integrity shines through in everything you do in your business, and customers can always sense it.
Thank you so much for sharing your story here, Suzan, and how you resolved it.
My husband’s grandmother asked me to restring her pearls, and I’d never worked with pearls before. The pearls were knotted in place, and I knew it was too important to her to use this piece as a learning experience. So, I suggested to my mother-in-law that she get it done by a professional. When she took it to a jeweler, he said he couldn’t do it but he sent it to the local major city to have it done. It’s much better to be honest about abilities or the lack thereof!
Honesty is an important of the foundation for any successful venture, in my opinion. While it is sad that the woman’s necklace could not be fixed the experience is uplifting and you got to both learn something and make a strong connection with someone.
by: Sue Runyon/Sue Runyon Designs
Suzan, you really did the right thing and handled it very well.
I string pearls professionally for my business and even though the knot used to string pearls is a simple overhand knot it takes many, many hours of practice to get it right. It also takes a great deal of trial and error to get the right size of silk thread for those particular pearls, to attach them to the clasp in a secure and lasting way and to weave the thread back through the pearls properly. Adding knots to a previously un-knotted triple strand necklace would also probably involve removing some pearls to get them to drape properly and would change the length of each strand. There are so many variables involved that it is no wonder it was frustrating. I’m sure she appreciated that you tried!