“In order to be irreplaceable, one must always be different.”
— Coco Chanel
Quality Problems with Mass Produced Jewelry
As the creators of mass-produced jewelry would have you believe, the benefit of such jewelry is that it allows for many people to enjoy the delights of one particular design. Mass-produced jewelry can be made cheaply using a wax cast that duplicates the design into a dozen identical twins or more. However, this method of producing jewelry dramatically reduces the quality and worth of the jewelry produced.
How is Jewelry Mass Produced?
As the intent is to create a piece of jewelry as cheaply as possible for the highest profit, this means that both the quality of the stones and the mounting material are quite low. Mass-produced wax casting allows for the stones to be set in place into the piece as they are casting it, which means that no jeweler ever sets the stones properly. Either this or a factory worker who is paid to complete the piece as quickly as possible has set the stones. This means that not only is the value of the piece low, the quality and integrity of the piece is also very low, and it is quite likely that the piece will break or fall apart with even moderate use.
Lastly, due to no jeweler working on the piece, this means that there will be no documentation as to the quality of the materials or the setting so that there is nothing to properly base an insurance policy upon. Any finish work is done quickly and efficiently, but with no attention to quality or detail. This all results in a piece that is made to be “good enough.” What does good enough mean, precisely? Good enough to be shipped to thousands of stores across the country and sit in a jewelry case — not for long-term wear or worthy of being a family heirloom.
How has Mass Production Affected Jewelry Stores?
This results in homogeneous jewelry stores – if you go to visit several different chain jewelry stores on the same day, each store will look more or less like all of the others, with essentially the same merchandise. Time is crucial to the manufacturers when it comes to the volume that moves through a chain jewelry store, as they need to finish their orders as quickly as they can. In that way, nothing that they produce can be at the level of a fine, hand-made piece.
Even jewelry stores or jewelry brands that have been known for their quality in the past can now be subject to lower standards due to supply and demand. Due to how famous they have become as jewelers, the demand for their products has gone up dramatically. However, this also means that their production amounts also go up — which unfortunately means that they will have to rely on lower quality stones, mountings, and settings, either periodically or frequently.
All of this is not to say that mass-production on the whole is a bad practice for every industry or that any product produced with mass-production will be of lower quality. The automotive industry, for example, allows many people the luxury of a nice, finished product that’s created in factories with little to no human intervention. Their robotics technology allows car manufacturers to create a product to within certain quality specifications or tolerances, so they can be certain to create something of high value without it also being hand-made. Unfortunately, such mass-production work doesn’t provide high-level quality in making jewelry.
To read more about what affects the quality of a piece of jewelry, read part three or read the first part here. To learn more about the quality of your jewelry, contact Haydon & Company by calling 919-781-1293 or filling out our form.