R.M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance says quality is neither mind nor matter, but a third entity independent of the two. Even though quality can’t be defined you know what it is.
Quality means different things to different people and to different industries. For me quality is being unique and honest, it’s something that you come to recognize through experience. Have you ever created a beautiful piece of jewelry only to have it fall apart because the crimp bead broke or the clasp didn’t hold up? Anyone who has a creative outlet or hobby knows that there are some things you just can’t control. Does that mean you are making an inferior product? I THINK NOT. I have found that buying higher quality goods is more expensive and isn’t always a full proof guarantee that something won’t break, crack or bend whether it's tools, beads, wire, etc.
As an artisan I am constantly reminding myself that each consumer has different wants and needs. The goods that satisfy their desires are looked at as having the highest quality. This may be a biased view about the quality of goods and services but when sales are involved it makes sense. Pricing is always a difficult for me because I want to offer great products at affordable prices but again I think often times consumers valuing things in relation to price.
This feedback sparked my interest in researching what quality means in different aspects of life. Different cultures, industries and various professions can influence a person's view of what makes a product high-quality.
Here’s a list of some factors that I use to determine if the components I use in my jewelry making are worthy of being included in a design and if I repurchase the same or like items. Again, experience weighs heavily on my designs. It's a very automatic process I choose beads and components based on the following:
While quality can sometimes be measured by a product’s attributes, individual preference plays a role in how we value items. These different views definitely give me a lot to think about when it comes to familiarizing myself with products and artists. With the enormous international market readily available at our fingertips finding the “right” product is an enormous undertaking.
Right now I work with a limited number of vendors. I have found that this provides consistency in my wears and limits my frustration because I'm familiar with their products, return policies, etc.
The methods you use to determine if an item is of high quality can vary depending on the item you are purchasing, how a particular product makes you feel and if the purchase will satisfy a desire/need. I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you determine if a product is of high-quality. What does QuAliTy mean to you?