Oct 21

Jeweler Calla Gold in MJSA! A Jeweler’s Tips From the Trenches

By Calla Gold

Happily I was recognized as an advising  jeweler by the Manufacturers and Jewelers of America – MJSA, in an article in their Tips From the Trenches series. In it I tell about my mentors, great advice and my biggest mistake as a jeweler.

If you are curious about how I became the jeweler I am then check out this article.





Memorable Advice, Mentors, and More




Four questions for Calla Gold of Calla Gold Jewelry in Santa Barbara, California.  Gold has been a jeweler for 30 years and specializes in custom jewelry and repairs.  She has no brick-and-mortar location; instead, she meets and works with her clients in their homes.

What was the most memorable advice you ever received?

My manager when I sold Fuller Brush door to door was my first mentor.  I ended up loving the guy (like, I wish he’d been my dad!). So if he gave me any advice, which he freely did, I took it and just rocketed forward with his mentorship.  In a nutshell, he would say, Show up–If you want to make it, treat this like a 9-to-5 job and go for it; schedule yourself, keep track of your clients, and show up eight hours a day.”

What was the biggest mistake you ever made and what lessons did you learn from that experience?

One of the most important tasks I have is shopping for jewelry to show and sell to my clients, who sometimes want to buy something, like a chain or a pair of earrings, in addition to my custom work. When I was a newer jeweler, I always assumed my clients were economizing, so I stuck to a cheaper price point.  I thought they’d love me for not bankrupting them! Then a jeweler friend told me I should buy an omega necklace for my stock.  They were hot at the time but not cheap, and I didn’t think anyone I sold to could afford them.  So I didn’t take their advice.  A couple of months later, I ran into a regular client of mine at a beauty shop, and she shows up with her omega necklace.  I admired it, and she told me where she got it. She said, “I would have gotten it from you if you carried that sort of thing.”  Agggh–dagger to my heart!  After that, I quit thinking about buying only what I thought my clients could afford and started buying higher-ticket items.  And they sold.  And if they didn’t, I could always exchange them for something else.  That was a painful lesson learned.  Interestingly, when I started carrying higher-ticket jewelry the elusive higher-ticket clients came to me!

Who has had the most influence on your business life?

I’ve had a number of crucial turning points where I’ve learned things, either because I did something stupid, a mentor came into my life, I took some good classes, or I had a good job that challenged me to rise higher.  There was a woman, Pat, who was a friend of my mother’s.  When I was a teenager, we would have these conversations where she’d ask, “So what do you picture yourself doing in five years?  Are you the kind of person who likes to have a job or do you like to do your own thing?  Do you like to figure things out, be strategic, play chess?”  These were questions I didn’t know how to answer, and so I’d think about them and answer, and that way I’d learn something about myself.  One time Pat said, “It sounds like you should be the owner of the business instead of the employee.”  And when I got roped into my first job, Pat said that I should be taking classes and suggested me, Executive Delegation with Supervision, so I’d learn what it was like to be an executive.  I took the class, and it made it possible for me to start my own business.  That class and Pat’s pushing me basically got me started on my path to being an entrepreneur.

What advice would you give to the next generation of designers?

It’s really easy when you’re doing your own thing and do ti when it’s convenient.  And as a writer will tell you, sometimes it’s painful to sit down and write, and sometimes as a jeweler it’s painful to sit down and do paperwork, draw the pictures, arrange to buy materials, clean up your space.  There are a lot of things that are objectionable.  but if you’ve booked yourself a certain amount of time to wear your hat as a jeweler, make yourself make that schedule say; “I’m a jeweler from x time to y time.”  And if you need to turn a timer on, do it: “For the next 20 minutes I’m going to clean up the shop, for the next 20 minutes I’m doing social media, for the next 30 minutes I’m going to order gemstones and metal materials.”  Make yourself stay there until you’ve got that “to do” list done.  And if you still have time left over, do some strategizing; ask yourself “What should I be doing for my business?”


8 thoughts on “Jeweler Calla Gold in MJSA! A Jeweler’s Tips From the Trenches

  1. Calla,
    Wow. I like reading about the jewelry knowledge you share, but this peak at your beginnings as a jeweler are just pure gold. I can’t stress enough how insightful this is.
    It brings me joy that you were able to find something you were good at and successfully turn it into something you love doing. Your experiences and knowledge gives others, who wish to pursue their dreams, hope. Thank you for being so open and allowing us to learn from your beginnings. Great article.

    • Tania,
      You made my day. I coach other jewelers and do some local mentoring for young people specifically about small business issues. I love reading what you have written here.
      Thank you,

  2. Calla, I love your attitude! You freely admit mistakes, and see them as learning opportunities — which they are. I, also, love that you are open to learning from others, and sharing what you’ve learned with us. Thank you!


    • Dear Linda,
      It’s always like opening surprises to read the comments that come in from my blog readers. Yours just made my day. Thank you so much for your kind thoughts and validation for showing my mistakes. I’ve been so blessed with guidance from wiser people and it has helped me so much.
      Older and Wiser Calla

  3. I believe we learn a lot from our mistakes. I actually love reading people’s stories when they reveal mistakes because as much as you learned from it I learn from it too.
    I liked reading this a lot. When are you going to write a book? About being a jeweler?

    • Hi Tracey,
      I actually am going to write a book about being a Jeweler Without Walls. I’ve started it already, but with all my irons in the fire as a jeweler this isn’t on the top of my list. But it will happen!
      Calla Gold

  4. Calla,
    You are model of what the number one school of Entrepreneurship (Babson College) says people need to have in order to deal with rapid change: an attitude that mistakes are not failures but learning opportunities! You do that so beautifully and help people understand how having that “no-failure” is a key to success!
    Dr. Lynn

    • Dear Dr. Lynn,
      I know that you are a Certified Executive Coach and help entrepreneurs regularly. I so appreciate your explanation of the no-failure attitude. Now I see something I didn’t see before. I’d like to learn from my successes and I’m sure I do, but I definitely learn from my failures. I appreciate you coming by and discussing the impact of attitude on how to deal with mistakes!
      Calla Gold

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