Quality assurance and sample testing are buzzwords we’re all familiar with. These terms serve as reassurance for manufacturers and retailers.
Businesses, and especially retailers, want to ensure that the products and services they provide for clients are top of the line and…ahem…untarnished.
A happy customer is a return customer, and also acts as unprecedented word-of-mouth advertising. Quality control is the backbone to any operation, and when your enterprise is small-scale this may be slightly easier to oversee. Once production takes off, however, and products begin to be turned out at a pace too vast to be checked individually, quality is significantly more difficult to manage.
Small-scale or large, the quality of your products is top priority and while it may be harsh, you only have one chance at a first impression with consumers, retailers and wholesalers; it’s essential that your first impression is an overwhelmingly positive one.
Let’s go over the traditional steps and inspection points that the majority of leading jewelry retailer’s use in their quality control processes:
When involved with any major retailer or televised shopping network, these companies go through painstakingly precise quality assurance procedures.
For instance, one major retailer’s manufacturing website points out their thorough pre-production jewelry inspection process for any of their partners. At this point in the inspection, any and all machinery is gone over and searched for defects such as damage, loose parts or any other anomalies.
If any aspects of the machinery are not up to the retailer’s standard, the machinery must be replaced or repaired prior to initial product assembly.
So, not only are manufacturers’ and designers’ products under scrutiny, its also the very machinery with which the products themselves are made.
2. Raw Material
Usually, the quality assurance/quality control process (depending on the retailer) also entails the inspection of any raw materials used in the jewelry pieces supplied by the vendor.
As indicated by multiple major retailers’ manuals and stipulated requirements, raw materials are also subject to examination and are established with preset regulations between the buyer and vendor.
Items such as gemstones must have a predetermined weight, color, clarity, design, and cut quality. Furthermore, many major retailers require that the vendor or manufacturer submit forms declaring the origin and geographic mining location of the gemstone or any other raw material used in the piece, as well as whether or not the stone is natural, synthetic, simulated, etc.
If any gemstones in the entire product line are found to be insufficient or even just short of the negotiated specifications, often times the entire order will be returned to the vendor.
3. Testing and Specs
Retailers have designed and continue to carry out numerous tests on their vendor’s jewelry as a means of evaluation; these include tests in strength, durability, smoothness, functionality, thickness and tests involving chemical reactions, as well as tarnishing.
If pieces fail to meet any requirements or fail to pass certain thresholds, then they are denied by the retailer and will not be purchased. Retailers’ specification sheets also tend to include outlined expectations of workmanship and highlight that any piece submitted to them by a vendor should be devoid of tarnish, dirt, scratches, excessive glue, sharp edges, incongruous pieces, missing parts or mislabeling.
Retailers may even check your jewelry pieces at up to 10x magnification in order to detect whether or not they contain scratches, tarnish or any other defects.
Lastly, one of the final rounds of assessment commonly tends to be the vendor’s packaging. Most retailers not only require packaging to be branded but also expect packaging to cover hazards such as shock and compression, and to prevent tarnish.
As indicated by multiple retailers’ stipulations, jewelry packaging should have a certain “wow” factor in addition to possessing the ruggedness required to effectively protect the jewelry contained inside it.
If a product’s packaging does not mean the retailers expectations, then once again, the product line is returned.
Often times, a retailer will have a preferred supplier for certain boxes, bags, anti-tarnish strips and foam pads to ensure uniformity and quality between all their products.
5. You’re at the Home Stretch…but Wait
So now imagine you’re a vendor or manufacturer (an occupation that many of you very well may be). You’ve taken all the necessary steps to ensure that your manufacturing machinery is functioning and undamaged:
- You’ve confirmed the mining location of any and all gemstones contained in your jewelry pieces, as well as secured their color, quality, cut, design, weight, etc.
- You’ve made sure that your jewelry pieces can stand the battery of strength, durability, smoothness and functionality tests directed at it.
- You’ve employed the retailer-expected workmanship and produced an aesthetically appealing piece of jewelry, free of any excess glue, sharp edges, mislabeling, tarnish or scratches.
- You’ve corresponded your product line with the correctly branded packaging, suitable for certain hazards and capable of withstanding certain drop forces.
And then you use a piece of charcoal paper as an anti-tarnish in with your jewelry
We can’t blame you- the use of anti-tarnish strips is usually either required or recommended by large retailers.
However, as we’ve previously discussed, charcoal paper anti-tarnish strips are abrasive and can cause scratching on silver surfaces, as well as on certain gemstones.
As a vendor, conceptualize putting all that conscientious work into your product line, only to have it arrived scratched at the major retailer because you used an ineffective anti-tarnish product. What should be assurance, as well as an insurance of quality, ends up relinquishing the integrity of your product- it happens more often than you might think.
That’s why choosing a safe, non-abrasive and non-volatile anti-tarnish product is extremely important. Intercept Silver and Jewelry Care Co.’s anti tarnish products will never scratch any metals or gemstones, and yet still absorb corrosive gases more efficiently than do charcoal paper products.
In terms of quality control, Intercept’s anti tarnish strips are an unequivocal foundation in a process full of variables.
All Things Considered
The list of quality assurance inspection points employed by major retailers is staggering. This blog post has barely even scratched the surface of most manufacturers' quality control and quality assurance processes, and most major retailers have quality control manuals hundreds of pages long, covering a vast amount of stipulations.
A quick look into a major retailer’s jewelry quality manual will reveal the true depth and scope of their quality control preconditions and the extent to which they enforce these policies. However, these practices are not arbitrary, nor are they calculatedly vexing systems utilized to hinder vendors or manufacturers.
On the contrary, it's a vital part of the jewelry enterprise as a whole and these tests, along with the other qualifiers previously highlighted, ensure that top quality products are sold and that customers will be happy with their purchases.