She Only Wears “Real” Jewelry

by Lisa Kewish.
(United States)

Two women strolled by my booth…one admired my work and said so to her friend…her friend “sniffed” and said – right in front of me – “I ONLY wear REAL jewelry.”

Copper and sterling silver fused and hand painted

Copper and sterling silver fused and hand painted

The admiring friend realized I had heard their conversation and turned bright red and nudged her friend away. I just stood there amazed at what people will say with the artist within earshot.

Then…a few days later, another woman said the same thing… to my face.

Fused and reticulated sterling silver, opal and green crystal

Fused and reticulated sterling silver, opal and green crystal

So, other than the “Bruce Baker” response of “Well my jewelry isn’t for everyone.”… any other ideas?

I’ve included pics of my “not real” jewelry! πŸ˜‰

Lisa Kewish
Kewish Designs

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  • Erica says:

    Hi Lisa, I would say to just ignore them. Sometimes people will intentionally say things like this to get under your skin or try to appear better than you. Don’t stoop to their level. Just square your shoulders and look forward to the next customer with optimism and a welcoming smile. Next thing you know, you respond and get pushed into saying something you shouldn’t in earshot of a potential ‘real’ customer. Your art is a means of expressing your creative self to others so don’t let one or two sour persons get you down. All the best… Erie.

  • Michelle says:

    Say in a low whisper…. Can you SEE me? I am not real either! LOL…..

  • Judy says:

    I love Michelle’s response LOL. All I can say is “every once in awhile while we are walking in the garden of flowers…we can’t help it…we trip over a nut” Just smile sweetly and say thank you for looking.

  • Judy says:

    I forgot to add that I LOVE your creations…keep it up you are a terrific artist!

  • Islaraqso Wellspring Art says:

    All jewelry is not for everyone but i think yours is beautiful.
    I make jewelry and come to the conclusion that it may not be for everyone but it feels amazing making my peices. Just because it may not be their taste doesn’t mean its not beautiful to someone. So keep doing the beautiful work you do.

  • Mary Anne Enriquez says:

    I LOVE your work Lisa! Shows a mastery of materials, craftsmanship, and exceptional design skills. I also loved Michelle’s comment also.

    If I, standing there….even as a fellow browser, probably would have snidely asked that rude clueless woman what she considered “real” jewelry. How narrow minded and uncreative she was to have made that comment! Nonetheless….every artisan who publically shows their work eventually hears something negative. It’s normal….you have absolutely nothing to worry about…as your work is uniquely creative and lovely! Take care…and best of luck!

  • Wanda says:

    Your work is gorgeous.She was clueless.

  • Natascha says:

    Don’t be too upset. We are artists and our work is individual, so we can not (and should not!) please everybody with our style. I had similar things happen at my booth, there was one lady who said that my earrings were ugly because she prefers them with posts instead dangling with hooks. Or the other lady… her friend actually broke an earring because she dropped it on the concrete floor and she said something like “Well, i wouldn’ buy anything here, it’s all so badly made, it breaks when you wear it.” You see, it happens to all of us.

  • Val says:

    You’re work is amazing and unique! Those shoppers would rather by something made by a machine in China which is quite sad and frankly boring. Just focus on those who appreciate your art. πŸ™‚

  • Diane says:

    I’ve even had a co worker tell me “oh, you have the necklace on I don’t like”. I’ve learned to smile and say, thank you. It does hurt (or it does to me), but everyone is correct. Not every style of jewelry is for everyone. You have customers that purchase from you that love your jewelry. They aren’t wrong! Keep working and enjoy it. You get to sell to people that “get it”.
    I’ve also told people that say that, “no, I can’t afford to work in gold and diamonds. However, I prefer sterling silver and gemstones”.

  • Helen says:

    Beautiful pieces you have here. And very original. As a customer I look for original and unique pieces, as an artist I strive to create original pieces. God only knows what those people mean with “real” – is real – something cheaply mass produced to them- or just items using unethically sourced pearls and gold? Or just very boring designs that overcrowd the market? Who knows.As others on said here, best to ignore comments like these as there’s no point to go into a discussion. And tastes are so different. The right people will appreciate your designs and buy it.

  • Ann Nolen says:

    Ah! I think all of us have had this pair in our booths.

    I have a relative that does things like this when they are “afraid” the person with them is interested and going to spend money. It is an old habit that doesn’t make sense now, and is very frustrating to deal with. So, the rude woman probably never even looked at your beautiful work. The comment was aimed at her unfortunate friend or relative. Keep smiling, it could be worse… You could be stuck shopping with that woman for the day πŸ˜‰

  • You have a very keen eye for style and your jewelry is beautiful. Ignore the ignorant. I have been selling my creations for about 7 yrs now, and have learned that people put foot in mouth all the time. (: An idea for you would be to have a little pamphlet made about you, your work, the materials you use, etc. Showing you use silver, and gems, or whatever it is. I will post what i use, so i hand these out at my shows. It has a little bio about me, how i got into jewelry making, and about what I use to make my jewelry i.e. sterling silver, gemstones, Swarovski crystals, even high quality glass beads.This is also a good way to market your jewelry and increase your sales and gives you credibility on the product you are selling. You have a unique style and that is what people look for.

  • Lara says:

    So what is “real” jewelry, then? I’d be interested to know if she could even articulate what her definition of “real” is. Is anything not mass-produced not “real?” That’s a pretty narrow mindset.

    Probably just as well she didn’t buy any of your pieces–she sounds like she’d be one of those nightmare customers anyway, never completely happy with some aspect of it, always expecting alterations, and always for free.

    I think your pieces are lovely. Keep making your “not-real” jewelry.

  • Rae says:

    I agree with Ann. I see these women at every show…the shopper and her handler! I became so attuned to them that I was able to step back and see what was going on in the relationship. Most often those with family relations, like sisters or mother/daughter, it’s a reminder to curb the spending, but they can become interested and buy something small when I start talking about my work. The social diva handler…making sure her taste is the rule…is very skilled at group control and I just let them float on down the line. They are there to be seen, not to purchase or to understand what I’m doing; that’s the path they have chosen and it doesn’t affect me. I’m enjoying what I’m doing…I hope they have something in their life that brings them as much joy.

  • Kathi Voskuil says:

    I would respond that I wear “art” jewelry, not the mass-produced stuff sold at the mall.

  • Susan Whelan says:

    Your jewelry is beautiful! I have the same problem, although mine isn’t as nice as yours. I just tell people, “my jewelry isn’t for everyone, any more than everybody will like the same piece of art.”
    And I make it knowing that. But someone like that woman…I’d smile, and tell her that people said that to Picasso.

  • Patti says:

    Your work is beautiful and is considered art. The pieces you have shown here would be prominently displayed in an art museum shop. The people that choose jewelry like what you display here are people with imagination, means, class and a sense of unique elegance. They purchase jewelry to express their personalities, seeking excellent quality and something out of the ordinary, something that catches the eye. You have created pieces that fit that description. I would expect to see your pieces adorning the necks (wrists, ears) of actresses, dancers and other fellow artists. I don’t claim to be an “artist” yet, even though I make jewelry (simple earrings and such), but I would certainly love to purchase a piece. LOVE that heart.

    Additionally, if you’re feeling particularly feisty some day, a sweet reply might be, “Oh, this isn’t for you; I only create art.”

  • Lezlie Russell says:

    If you do craft shows long enough you will run into rude inconsiderate people. I had one lady ask me what my Jewelry was made of and when I told her I use only fine or sterling silver she promptly told me she didn’t believe me. And yes I have also had the person to tell me that they only wear gold and diamonds. My response is that every piece I make is a labor of love.

  • Wylene says:

    There’s already many great suggestions here so I will just COMPLIMENT you on your BEAUTIFUL designs! Looks like REAL jewelry to me!!!

  • Cat says:

    Love the comments! There isn’t a one of us out there who’ve been selling for any length of time that hasn’t had ignorant people like you experienced. “Real” jewelry is most often the kind that the customer overpays for…you could mention that although it isn’t 14K gold or expensive diamonds, etc., NEITHER IS THE PRICE!

    And really, what are these snobs doing at handmade shows, anyway? If they want “real” jewelry, they should get their backsides to the mall and bring their Visa so they, too, can overspend on jewelry that’s marked up 1,000%. AND, they can look like every other cookie cutter wearer of said jewelry.

    As for me? I’d be proud to wear your jewelry…it’s gorgeous. And being an ex-silversmith, I know the work that goes into it. It’s beautiful…don’t give those ignoramuses another thought. In truth, they probably do their shopping at KMart. If they have to advertise their position on only wearing an expensive, overpriced piece of jewelry, they’re showing their lack of class and don’t deserve to wear a unique piece.

    Just chuckle the next time someone says something like that…it’ll be the reaction they least expect. It’s like you know something they don’t and believe me, they’ll be thinking about it because they didn’t get the expected reaction out of you (like the hurt or embarrassed look they thought they could provoke…). If you treat it as though they said something funny and ludicrous, it’ll take them back a step!

  • Penny says:

    People come into my booth and tell me how beautiful my jewelry is and how talented I am. They even say one or the other they love. But don’t purchase.
    I feel like saying “we’ll that doesn’t pay the rent”. But I just smile and say thank you.

  • Colleen says:

    Ummmm, and what is not “real” about your creations? Could someone define real for me. I didn’t see any plastic in those pics. Hmm I wonder how much plastic those women had on them (and I don’t mean in their wallets). Ignore people like that. That’s how they get their jollies by trying to make someone feel inferior. You do beautiful work and I’d buy your “non real” creations in a second!

  • Kim says:

    I happen to think that handmade (one at a time) jewelry is the real jewelry. The other stuff is not! Everyone has their own tastes for sure. I don’t like the mass manufactured stuff. Give me original, handmade, one of a kind jewelry any day!

  • Lynn says:

    Well, your “imaginary” jewelry looks stunning to me! I think by “real” they mean gold and diamonds and pearls in a locked jewelry case in a jewelry store in the mall. Mass produced and boring. Certainly nothing as creative as your beautiful work.

  • I usually bite my tongue, but last time out came “Yes, some people prefer to buy mass produced jewelry and some prefer artisan handmade one of a kind pieces like mine.” I don’t know if she realized the slight, but she bought a necklace and two pair of earrings.

  • Chris says:

    I just had to say that your jewelry is amazing. I absolutely love it!!!

  • Lisa Kewish says:

    First and above all… thank you ALL for your oh-so-very-real comments!

    I have been selling my work for awhile, but that one “real jewelry” comment really caught me by surprise! I do like the idea of a small brochure explaining the work…I may do that for my next shows… and I really like the idea of responding with “Can you see me? I’m real…” And yes, the social-crowd-Diva just fascinates me to no end.

    …and thank you for all the compliments…I pour my heart into my work…each one is a very real member of my heart family… πŸ™‚

  • coraNation says:

    Chalk it up to poor home training or just ignorance that people make rude comments sometimes. Then again, people are entitled to their own tastes. I have seen beautiful creations using crystals. Crystals are not my taste, but I would never tell an artist that their creations are not “real” jewelry. I can look at the result and appreciate the craftsmanship or creativity even if the materials used don’t move me. Your pieces are beautiful works of art and you should be proud. Thank you for sharing them with us.

  • Sheila says:

    You have a blessed amazing talent. Sometimes it’s hard for someone to appreciate a talent that they do not share. Believe in yourself and keep creating your beautiful pieces. Real jewerly is more than precious stones and silver or gold.

  • Thomas says:

    All the comments posted here show that there are difficult people in the world and that our efforts aren’t always appreciated. As businesspeople, though, we in fact make things to please our customers. The customer may not always be right, but we usually should act as though they are. A good response to this “snooty” potential customer might be:

    “I’m sorry you prefer other kinds of jewelry. I make and bring items based on what I think the people attending the show will want. Tell me what you’re looking for and I’ll bring that in the future. I also do custom work, and if you tell me what you like and how to contact you, I’ll get back with you with some custom designs.”

    This will often start a dialogue, and will sometimes result in a sale. At least you’ll have given them the opportunity to accept your kind offer. As far as price of materials, if I have a contract for a custom order (with deposit to cover the cost of materials), I will use diamonds, 24K gold, or whatever the customer wants.

  • Alla P. says:

    Hey Lisa, you already got an overwhelming response, but I want to put in my halfpence as well. I would ask the person what their definition of REAL is first. For some “real” is machine manufactured mass production as long as it has factory tag attached; let them enjoy it. Not everyone likes Art Galleries, some prefer department stores. It’s a matter of taste. Don’t feel upset or put down. You are an amazing artist, people admire your art, but simple thing is : “Can’t win them all”.

  • Autumn says:

    Wow Lisa, I’m sorry you had to hear that! I will admit that at one point in my life I was like that. A bit of a snob regarding the “realness” of handmade jewelry. Then I grew up and out of my teenage years (thankfully!). Is dollar store mass-manufactured jewelry beautiful? Yes. Is antique, handcrafted jewelry beautiful? Yes. What do both of these have in common? Perception. If people don’t see the beauty in a unique, hand-crafted-with-love item, then it’s their loss. It’s “real” because it exists, regardless of how it was made.

    I don’t really have any advice to add to what the others have said. We, unfortunately, depend on the customers. But we can’t make them like our products. I don’t like working with glass and plastic, but I can admit that artists who have a passion for those items make beautiful work. It’s not for me personally…but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. It’s not any less “real” or “less” just because it doesn’t match my tastes.

  • Susan says:

    Wonderful comments, all. And, yes, your work is very real. Just beautiful. I think every jewelry artist has to find his/her niche. I started out with all sterling and gold filled, semi precious stones and crystals. Still do some, but when precious metals went through the roof, I had to rethink stuff. The light came on when I took some inventory to a local boutique that I had been referred to, and while I was explaining my work and materials, I was told that their customers did not care about that; they wanted something cute, unique, and affordable. These ladies were well-respected and accomplished shop-owners, and I had to consider their insight. And for my area, they were so right. While I still create some higher end pieces, my bread-and-butter is affordable gemstone jewelry. I love, love, love, hearing ladies ooh and aah over the two/fer earrings that take me minutes and pennies to make but draw people to my booth every weekend, and it makes my day when someone treats themselves or a loved one to something cute, unique and affordable when they didn’t think they could! Your work is fabulous, forget the ignorant comments and keep doing what you know is right for you!

  • Judy says:

    I would be tempted to say “Only “REAL” women can wear my jewelry.”
    Your work is beautiful.

  • You could say: That works well for me, because I only sell to ‘real’ customers.

  • I worked for six years in a fine jewelry store selling diamonds, gold, etc. The wonderful owners of the store always told me that I could tell one customer a year to leave the store. I never believed that I could do that, but I watched as the owner did that one day. It was his store and the customer was being rude, so he asked them to leave. You have the right to do that. I asked an offensive customer to move on at a show. It felt great. It is your booth. You have the right to decide who stays there.

  • Janet says:

    Tell them “Well I’m sorry you don’t like it. I create beautiful pieces of art for people with more taste and class than money. But have a nice day!”

  • Donna says:

    Tell them you have to be unique and young to like it, even though I’m older I love your jewelry. but i do love the one that says tell them your not real either. well done. keep up the creative thing you got going.

  • Rain says:

    I’m always amazed at what people feel they can say in front of artisans/artists. It’s like we’re invisible or something! Even if you only wear precious metals and gems, why is it acceptable to say something like that to anyone? Don’t let someone who’s clearly rude and uncouth bother you. I really do hate the whole “real” jewelry thing. As if mine is imaginary.

    Honestly, I don’t know how I’d respond to that comment either. I’d probably just give them a tight smile and go speak to another customer in lieu of possibly saying something rude. At most, I’d probably say something like “That’s okay. Luckily, I have lots of customers who like my imaginary jewelry” and give her a wink.

    I’ve had customers complain about prices, tell me they could find that item cheaper somewhere else (I tell them, “okay”) and that they don’t like the design on an item. It’s hard to keep your composure and just take it, but I don’t ever want to be a person who is rude to someone in my booth. You never know who’s listening….it could be a potential customer who will be impressed with your ability to remain cool.

    Your jewelry is beautiful and I’m sure LOTS of people would be happy to wear it!

  • Brenda says:

    I think most people who say that mean they only wear precious metal and gemstone jewelry and perhaps they are so used to seeing the type of jewelry that is in mainstream jewelry stores that they didn’t realize that your jewelry was precious metal…which may mean that the way you display your jewelry, your marketing materials (banners, flyers, signage) isn’t telling them enough.

    If it is the location (some people will not spend money at craft shows because of various reasons such as wondering about the quality or followup if there are any issues) invite them to check out your website if you have one or see if you can add them to a mailing list.

    If I sense that it’s really not going anywhere, I just smile and let them go on…don’t let them take up room in your head.

    I wouldn’t be rude back (not sure why people always want to be rude back, it only makes you look like a jerk in front of other people)…just let it go.

    Go find the ones who want what you’re selling.

  • cris says:

    I know some people who only wear jewelry made of real gold. Maybe thats what she meant?

  • Anne Wallace says:

    What did she think your jewellery was….imaginary. It’s better if these people don’t buy your jewellery, they usually find something to complain about.

  • Vicky says:

    I too, used to think that “real” jewellery involved diamonds and gold only, and I am ashamed now. All this “real” jewellery I still own because I can’t sell it cos it’s too dull! I was never complimented on it because people didn’t notice it. Now I wear my own makes and get at least one compliment every time. Go figure.

  • zoraida says:

    I might be tempted to say “I only wear unique, handmade jewelry and that’s what I create for those who appreciate real handcrafted art”.

  • Random says:

    Ask “by “real jewelry” do you mean mass produced settings with stones harvested from poor counties with no fair trade laws controlled by a few large corporations?”

  • rebecca says:

    My response would be that there are many artists that were not recognized early on and yet, their pieces (whether paintings, photography or jewelry) are now quite valuable. I will say that you are in a good class of artists that are typically snubbed by those who think themselves “too good” for that kind of thing. Your pieces are beautiful and I hope you hear much more compliments than those rude (and somewhat stupidly rude) people.

  • Janet says:

    What she means is she prefers Walmart jewelry, all packaged up and sitting in a row. All alike, just different colors. She doesn’t appreciate the finer things. It’s ok, that’s just who she is. Keep on keeping on. Your stuff is absolutely beautiful. Her loss.

  • Alicia M says:

    Well, consider yourself lucky they were complete strangers πŸ™‚ I got the exact same comment (while still admiring my work, mind you) from my MIL! She meant ‘fine jewelry’ (as in gold / silver produced by a fine jeweler). What we make is artisan(al) jewelry. Nothing wrong with either type and IMHO you don’t have to reply anything. Just smile and move on. All men (and women) are not created equal – some will like all sorts of jewelry, some not.

  • Melissa Heue says:

    I think a lot of freelancers or small business owners sadly hear this. I hear many disheartened coaches in the Beachbody (home fitness) community getting upset over people trying to tell them the are not good enough, not real. And then the coaches find ways to shake off negative comments. Because in the end, the good work they do DOES changes lives. They are real and deal with real people’s emotions, and help people reach their goals or find joy in life. Jewelry is no exception. If people want cold diamonds, that is easy, a department store is the answer. But to love someone’s art, that is a different experience for the buyer and creator.

    The negative people should keep going and find another place to leave their poor energy, so that a positive person who is compelled to have one of your pieces finds YOU. If they don’t move first, make your move. Clear them out of your mind. The positive person is no fool. They know very well they can get diamonds any day at a department store. When they fall in love with you and your work as an artist, that is one of a kind. You connect meaningfully.

    Every great leader probably faced critics, but also changed countless lives in the process. Don’t back down. A good jewelry community and customer base will have your back. We’re here for you.

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