3 Tips for Dealing With Jewelry Theft at Craft Shows

It’s every jewelry artist’s nightmare and it happens all too often.

Janine DeCresenzo and Megan Clark had their inventory stolen from a rental car while working a jewelry show in Portland, Oregon, in September. Thieves made off with about $300,000 worth of handmade jewelry, mostly one-of-a-kind. Marne Ryan had her inventory stolen while breaking down her booth at the Pasadena Craft Show in November 2016.

Bring this subject up among jewelers and all kinds of harrowing stories come out. Theft happens quickly. Recovering from it takes a while.

Here are some tips for traveling, to, from, and between shows and how you can better prepare yourself before you ever leave home.

Make plans for safe storage on the road.

If you have a few days in between shows, consider renting a temporary security deposit box at a bank. When you’re booking a hotel, call ahead and ask if they have a security box or safe. It may be worth paying a little extra sometimes. Many artists compensate for the expense of travel and show fees with ultra-cheap accommodations. “We’ve all stayed in campers, cheap motels, or Airbnb rentals that are very unsafe, not even thinking,” Janine says.

Net Profits: project yourself from jewelry theft at jewelry and craft shows.

Photo: Getty Images

Look into jewelry insurance.

Insuring jewelry inventory against theft from a car is not so easy. Megan had travelers insurance and is waiting to hear how much of her claim will be honored. Janine filed a claim with the travel insurance policy that kicked in when she charged the rental car on her American Express card. Most likely, the stolen goods will be considered business property, not personal. “At best, Megan’s policy will cover her materials,” Janine says. “All the time you spend working on it isn’t covered.”

So what kind of insurance would cover such a catastrophe? Jewelers Mutual told Janine they wouldn’t cover her because she works from home, which is considered a risk. Another company said they would cover jewelry at her home studio but not for inventory stolen from a car. If something like this happens, be prepared to present receipts for every item stolen. That means materials, not necessarily the jewelry itself.

Use certified stones.

Janine and Megan both had a few less identifiable pieces that would be easier to sell as is. Detectives asked if any of the diamonds were certified. Diamonds valuable enough to warrant GIA certification are sometimes sent to be re-certified. “That’s the only chance you’d have to get that stone back,” Janine says. “But most of my diamonds are rose-cut, not super fancy. Megan had nothing certified either.”

CATHLEEN MCCARTHY has written about jewelry and business for Town & Country, Art & Antiques, Washington Post, and her own site, The Jewelry Loupe. Follow her on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest.

NET PROFITS is a regular feature about using the Internet for jewelry selling of special interest to those with a home-based jewelry business that appears in Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist. Learn more in “Avoid Jewelry Theft” in the January/February 2018 issue. Don’t miss a single Net Profits column. Subscribe to Lapidary Journal Jewelry Artist.

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