Post by walter » December 8th, 2008, 9:47 am

Hi All! I thought I’d take a few moments to share my story so far. It is something I debated for a while, but I feel like it will be good to capture my feelings at this point and see where it all ends up. The cliff notes are at the bottom. 



I started working on my ering back in August. I started trying to learn as much as I could before delving in to the process by reading everything I could get my hands on (including countless hours on PS) and then working directly with Lauren The Partier (whom I know from elsewhere). As Lauren helped me learn and I began to start to work on how I wanted to proceed she started directing me to vendors.



The thing I knew from the beginning was that this would not be a run of the mill ring, and that it would not have a diamond center stone. I starting contacting vendors to try and source the sapphire. I starting looking with Jeff White (www.whitesgems.com) as well as working with WF, TNC, Cherry Picked, Daniel Stair and browsing Barry Bridgestock’s collection (www.acstones.com) . I knew that I was committed to finding a stone that had been cut properly (or having it cut/re-cut for me) which is why I initially spent quite a bit of time with Jeff.



Lauren introduced me to Katie from White Flash (www.whiteflash.com) and I began working on the ring around the same time I started my search for the stone. I began compiling a database of ring images from all over the web, comparing components in order to be able to convey the design features that I was looking for. I searched everywhere from Tacori to random google image searches for erings. I knew that I wanted something that was of a vintage design and would mesh well with the other two daily worn rings my GF has. I worked with Katie to narrow what was originally a 30 page word document with over 100 images in it down to 4 specific pages that she could provide to her design team.



I explained that I had still intended to source my own sapphire despite WF quoting both options. I let Katie know that I was anxious to get started as I had identified the time I would like to propose and we were getting close to the window we had discussed for the project (approximately 20 business days). I had about a weeks worth of buffer above and beyond the longest time that WF had quoted since I wanted to be sure. Just when timing was looking to get rough on the Sapphire front (no pun intended) Lauren mentioned in one of our email exchanges that Barry just had a new stone pop up that looked like it may be up my alley. Some of you colored stone fanatics may recognize it: http://acstones.com/productcart/pc/viewPrd.asp?idcategory=0&idproduct=2508 .



I spoke with Barry on the phone and had some additional photos sent and purchased it. I informed Katie that I had found a stone and I received the initial proposal from Katie with pricing on November 6th. The stone was shipped to me and was to be delivered on Friday, a delay with FedEx meant that I had to wait until Monday to pick it up. When the stone arrived it was an amazingly cut sapphire however it just didn’t have the color that I was looking for. It was far too light and while I felt pressed for time, Lauren was right and if it wasn’t “the one” I shouldn’t settle. Barry understood and without any questions arranged for the stone return and a very prompt refund.



I contacted Katie and let her know the news. I still wanted to move forward but was on emergency plan B in order to prevent any delays. I spoke with Katie about WF sourcing a sapphire but wasn’t comfortable with their options and continued to pursue it on my own.



About the same time someone else suggested that I contact Richard Wise (www.rwwise.com) . I spoke with Richard on the phone about what I was looking for and was amazed with his knowledge on the subject (much like Jeff and Barry) and we identified a stone that he had in a matched set that he said he would split up if I was interested. I purchased the 7.0mm round from Richard and notified Katie immediately that I had found the stone and we were back on track. I confirmed my material choices and other small details with Katie on the 10th and 11th. On Wednesday everything was final and I completed the paperwork for my order and was charged in full for the WF work. Not a huge deal, but it did strike me as odd as the WF webpage indicated that they charged $250 to start custom work, and the balance of the payment was due upon design approval.



In-line with the discussions I had with Katie, all of the paperwork I signed to approve the work indicated an expected ship date of December 8th. Katie was amazing to work with and the experience had been incredible to this point.



Now I’ll take a detour from the story for a minute to explain the dates. I had planned to propose in relation to my FI’s birthday which was Dec 16th. Either the week preceding or just following. It worked out well because we had planned to travel home for the Holidays on Dec 22nd and I was anxious to share the news when we arrived.



Back to the story. Payment for the ring had been completed and I was due the stone on the 13th. I expected the stone on Friday the 14th and was told I would be sent shipping instructions to turn it around. It again (lucky me) was held up in shipping and did not arrive until Monday the 15th. I still hadn’t received any shipping instructions despite requesting them Monday morning for a second time. I had wanted to make sure I could turn the stone around the same day. In this same email I requested that Katie confirm the dates I should receive my CAD files When I called WF, I finally received the instructions via email but not until after the post office had closed for the day. WF requested that I ship the stone USPS Priority Mail Registered and Insured. I complied on Tuesday. I sent off the tracking number and anxiously requested another update as to when I should expect my CAD proofs.  While the post office expected the stone to arrive Thursday or Friday at the latest, luck would have it that it did not show up until Saturday.



I had spoke with Vera several times throughout this process. I followed up anxiously with Vera on Friday when we were debating where my stone may actually be but I was devastated when I found out that despite no indication to the contrary prior to now, no work was going to begin on my piece until the stone had arrived. This was a bombshell that I never saw coming, had any indication of this been indicated I would have overnighted stones on multiple occasions and likely had the stone directly drop shipped to WF.



While I WHOLEHEAREDLY understand the time that it takes to create a custom piece (esp. of the complexity that I was asking for) as well as the need to have the stone in hand I could in no way understand that with all of the communication that had been going on, no one had ever mentioned this to me. The update I received Tuesday afternoon was that I would receive my CAD images on 12/3, and if they were approved by 12/4 we could expect to ship the ring on 12/23. I pleaded my case to Katie and Vera. Again, I never would have questioned any of this, nor the timing at all, had realistic expectations been set, and I been properly apprised of what was going on. Vera offered to set my stone in a temporary setting and provide shipping in both directions in order to meet my intended proposal date but that just wasn’t going to work for me. I let her know that I appreciated the offer but it just did not fit my or my girlfriend’s style and I would prefer to wait. Vera indicated that apparently Katie and the rest of the sales staff was unaware of the requirement to physically have the stone in house before any work could be initiated, and this has now been rectified so that hopefully everyone could learn from my misfortune.



On December 3rd I did not receive any CAD images. On December 4th I followed up with Vera to find out what the status was, and was informed that work had not yet begun, but it was slated for this afternoon and I would receive them on the evening of the 4th before the designer went home. On Friday December 5th I received an email from the designer apologizing for the delay, but indicating that he had questions that he wanted to discuss with me directly. Despite the fact that I tried to arrange something for Friday, the best we were able to do was set the meeting for today, December 8th (the original ring ship date).



I have clearly given up on planning at this stage. I have made, and re-made arrangements and reservations 3 times now and have come to terms with the fact that I will figure this out when WF figures out when they want to get my ring done. I met with my designer Joe today and it was great to finally get to discuss the design in more detail and I can’t wait to see it start to come to life (hopefully this afternoon).



The problem is as I’m sure everyone can relate, is that I have just felt entirely helpless through this process. I would have done anything in my possible to maintain my end of the bargain, had it ever been accurately communicated to me. I felt that there were so many opportunities for this to have been avoided that for me to be in this situation is truly upsetting. Had this been any other purchase, I would have walked away weeks ago. But the time that I had invested to this point was unrecoverable, and to take the job elsewhere would have taken even longer, and meant starting from scratch. I felt very handcuffed, it wasn’t until I was completely locked in to the process that the obligations began to slip and time began to pad on. From all accounts I’ve seen, this is clearly not typical WF, however I feel that I had the perfect storm that manifested itself in one of the more emotional experiences I’ve gone through (I’m getting engaged for crikes sake!)



Anyway, I will update the thread as the project progresses hopefully with some triumphant (and beautiful) news to share at the end. I still just don’t really feel like WF has gone the extra mile to reconcile this and think that is a shame.



I know that custom jewelry takes time. I know that bringing in my own stone added to the complexity. And I know that I have a complex design in the works. I never would have questioned anything, had expectations been set appropriately from the start.



CLIFF NOTES: Working on custom ering with WF. Sourced the sapphire independently from RWWise. WF did not accurately represent the project requirements and has continually missed their obligations in terms of timing. I do not feel that they have made an appropriate effort to reconcile what I feel has been severe shortcomings on their part.