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My Custom Sapphire ERing Story (the good and the bad): Whiteflash, RWWise

Discussion in 'Show Me the Bling! (Rings,Earrings,Jewelry)' started by walter, Dec 8, 2008.

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  1. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 8, 2008

    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.
     
  2. Maisiebelle
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by Maisiebelle » Dec 8, 2008
    I know it can be disappointing when things go wrong. Sometimes vendors don''t come through the way we expect them to. We read so much about them on here that we feel ''safe'' asking them to make such important jewellery.

    I hope Whiteflash will make things right for you.
     
  3. geckodani
    Ideal_Rock

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    by geckodani » Dec 8, 2008
    Ditto what Maisie said. I understand how disappointing it can be to put your faith in someone and be let down, especially with something this important.

    I truly hope that the end result makes all of the frustration worth it. I''m sure it will!
     
  4. swingirl
    Ideal_Rock

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    by swingirl » Dec 8, 2008
    Sorry for your experience. It sounds frustrating for sure. I had a custom setting created by another vendor and I never thought for a second that they would start the project without my stone in their hands. I wonder why WF led you believe otherwise especially when you''ve said you are asking for a complicated design that took 4 pages to describe.

    Hope it now can now progress smoothly. It sounds like it''ll be a very special ring when it''s complete.
     
  5. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 8, 2008

    Hindsight being what it is I suppose. This was my first venture in to jewelry, let alone something custom. Having done more than my share of custom design work at a CAD station I can say that with the most basic of stone dimensions they could get 90% of the way there, obviously understanding what they don't yet have, and modify the work when it is available. I can agree that ideal starting position is stone in hand however I still don't think that assumption is that far out there considering that it was never mentioned... which is ultimately my gripe. Layout the ground rules and I'll have no issue playing by them, but to pull the rug out half way doesn't seem like everyone was thinking everyone all the way through.

    Add in the fact that they partially contributed to delays in getting the stone (delays in shipping instructions), and then delays AFTER the stone arrived and I think my sour taste is more than justified.


    I still believe WF has an opportunity to make this right in my mind, we aren't done yet. I think this post was also just cathartic.... I have been trying to keep this a secret and Lauren is really the only individual I've been talking to about it so it feels good to vent.


    I appreciate the encouragement from everyone though. I am as excited as ever about the completion of the project though, all the waiting!
     
  6. neatfreak
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by neatfreak » Dec 8, 2008
    I am so sorry that things are working out for you this way! It stinks, there is no way around it. I also am surprised though that WF would have told you that work would begin on your ring without the stone in hand, as I have never known that to happen with a custom ring, but of course if you are new to the process then you wouldn't know to ask about that specifically. I'm not sure if WF told you that work WOULD begin or if you assumed it would, but if it's the latter then I don't think they pulled out the rug from under you on at least that detail of this transaction.


    I am sure Whiteflash will do what they can for you to make it right... and I am sure the ring will be phenomenal when it's done if it's any consolation!
     
  7. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 8, 2008
    To be fair, let's clarify.

    I did not say that WF said work would begin without the stone. I did say that they never brought it to my attnetion that work would not begin without the stone though (I know....ASSuME). The 15 updates I asked for before the stone showed up may have been a good time to to let me know that was the plan, or you know, when we talked about scheduling building a custom ring with a stone I was supplying.

    It wasn't intentional, WF wasn't trying to pull a fast one or anything but that doesn't make it suck less. This post isn't meant to flame WF or discourage anyone from buying from them, just share my experience and vent.
     
  8. neatfreak
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by neatfreak » Dec 8, 2008
    Gotcha, sorry about that. It was the "pulling the rug out" comment that made me think that WF had told you one thing and then did another with that.

    It really sucks that''s all there is to it. I hope that they''ll get it in the mail to you ASAP so you can propose to your wonderful girlfriend and that they can make it right for you.
     
  9. LaurenThePartier
    Super_Ideal_Rock

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    by LaurenThePartier » Dec 8, 2008
    You''ll get there, Walter. I''m glad you posted this because it''s important for others not familiar with custom work to see others experiences. [​IMG]

    I hadn''t even thought to mention this until now, but my husband assumed (there''s that word again) that because all of WF''s stock settings were 18k white gold, that my custom piece would be, as well. He didn''t ask, no one ever told him it wouldn''t be, and I ended up with 14k WG. Luckily, my skin isn''t allergic and nearly 3 years in, I haven''t had to re-rhodium or anything, but I made a post here on PS about it because the lack of information on his part was similar to your situation with the CAD work.

    And we were on a tight schedule - we were getting MARRIED March 9th, and any delays like yours could have kept me from having ANY ring for my wedding day. He received my ring on February 8th or 9th, I believe.
     
  10. audball
    Ideal_Rock

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    by audball » Dec 8, 2008
    This is horrible! I''m so sorry that this has happened to you! Hopefully they will make it right and you''ll LOVE the piece when it''s done. You''re getting ENGAGED that''s all that matters in the end!
     
  11. Diamond*Dana
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Diamond*Dana » Dec 8, 2008
    Walter, I am so sorry for all the frustration this is causing you...it is a shame that it is not turning out the way that you had hoped. I hope that the outcome is perfect!
     
  12. arjunajane
    Ideal_Rock

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    by arjunajane » Dec 8, 2008
    Well then, to be fair, it seems the majority of the issues you are facing now were based on an assumption on your part...I''m not sure what your design looks like, but it would be a real misadventure and irresponsible for any jeweller to start a custom ring without the actual centre stone. That would be opening a can of worms for both the customer and designer.

    I understand you were not aware of this, and clearly there was some miscommunication on the topic between yourself and WF - I don''t think that issue is either party''s fault.

    If they did continually not meet deadlines, promises on timing - yes, that is frustrating and not what we usually expect from WF.

    But in all honestly, it sounds as if your project is now coming along (meeting with the designer etc), so I wouldn''t let this setback marr the process too much.

    Hope to see the CADS soon, sounds exciting!
     
  13. LGK
    Ideal_Rock

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    by LGK » Dec 8, 2008
    That sounds frustrating. I have to say in my experience with custom work (three items, two different vendors) it never goes as scheduled. Typically you hear better thngs about Whiteflash''s communication/custom work timing, but it is very, very, very typical to have the work take longer than planned, though perhaps not so much with Whiteflash. It''s one of those things that''ll make me think hard about ever going custom again, especially with a deadline. Sorry- not much help to you though. Hopefully the finished product will be so fab it''ll make up for the delay/communication issues.
     
  14. gailrmv
    Ideal_Rock

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    by gailrmv » Dec 8, 2008
    Thank you for sharing your experience. I am sure it will help other people who may be working on the same type of project in the future. I''m sorry that it has been frustrating (I would be frustrated too), but I am sure you will come away with a beautiful ring from the process!
     
  15. Jelly
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Jelly » Dec 8, 2008
    Hi Walter,

    So sorry to hear about your miscommunication with WF. I definitely see both sides of the story, but like with anything good in life, good things come to those who wait.

    Patience my friend. [​IMG][​IMG][​IMG]
     
  16. Jelly
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Jelly » Dec 8, 2008
    Also, that Barry Bridgestock stone is amazing! Does that mean it should be up for sale again? [​IMG]

    Do you have any real life pics of it? It''s gorgeous!
     
  17. Allison D.
    Ideal_Rock

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    by Allison D. » Dec 8, 2008
    Walter, on behalf of Whiteflash, I am so sorry for the disappointment you’ve experienced on this custom project. We feel as badly as you do, and I want to assure you that we are working feverishly to get this ring to you as promptly as possible while still producing an heirloom that you’ll be proud to present.

    I agree with you that communication is the key to setting expectations, and with the clarity of hindsight, it’s easy to see where we needed to provide you with more information about the process. In fairness, I will say that it’s much easier to determine that now with hindsight than it is with foresight.

    When Katie quoted 17-20 business days for your project, it was late October (23rd) and you were eager to begin the process. (To meet a ship date of December 8 with a 20-day completion window, we could begin as late as November 7. With two weeks to spare, there was ample time to complete your ring.) Unfortunately, no one could anticipate the many obstacles you’d encounter in rejecting the first stone, selecting a replacement, and the subsequent shipping delay from your vendor.

    These obstacles collectively caused a three-week delay. With your replacement stone not shipping until November 13, even an overnight drop-ship to us wouldn’t have recovered the time lost from the prior delay. While it makes sense that delays on the front end would likely impact the completion date, it’s clear now that we should have drawn your attention to this to reset your expectations.

    I want to apologize sincerely for your frustration at feeling misinformed regarding the CAD process. Normally, payment does trigger commencement of a custom order because we typically have the stone inhouse already. In your instance, Katie regretfully overlooked the fact that your stone wouldn’t arrive as quickly as payment would. We completely understand your frustration at feeling ill-informed; while it wouldn’t have improved the timeline situation at that point, it wouldn’t have left you feeling dissatisfied with our communication.

    Regarding your requests for shipping instructions, I do see that on the same day you made the first request, Vera emailed you requesting valuation documentation needed (for insurance purposes) before we could issue the shipping instructions and documents. We were awaiting your reply when you called to make a second request for them.

    We missed our committed timeline on providing CADs to you, plain and simple....no excuses. CADs aren't an exact science and they can take longer than expected, especially now during our busiest season, but we should have been proactive in coming to you to advise of that delay. We WILL improve on this aspect going forward.

    Most important, I want to emphatically assure you that we aren’t apathetic about completing your ring. We *absolutely* feel a sense of urgency on your order, and we are doing all we can to expedite this for you. With that said, though, we cannot shortcut the steps required to make the ring correctly without compromising the end product. We don’t want that, and we know you don’t either.

    We share in your disappointment that the ring won’t be ready when you’d hoped, and we’re doing all we can do expedite this for you. Our CAD engineer, Joe, has been working evening hours at home on this in efforts to make it happen as quickly as we can. We hear you and we understand how important this is to you, and we’re committed to working with you to bring a positive outcome to this.

    If there is anything I can do personally to contribute to that effort, please get in touch with me and let me know how I can help.
     
  18. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 9, 2008

    Thank you very much for taking the time to reply Alison. As I've said to Lauren all along I didn't want to post anything prematurely as I have heard nothing but great things about your customer service and wanted to continue to give you the benefit of the doubt. (I will mention that it would have been nice to have been reached out to without having had to post this in public though).



    I agree with your statements on most accounts however I have an issue with the comments below.


    I've attached a portion of the order confirmation sent to me by Vera on November 12th, signed and returned the same day. You can clearly see that it indicates an estimated Dec 8th ship date. The Oct. 23rd date was not the only date that a Dec. 8th ship date was quoted to me. Additionally, since WF was involved in all of these updates, it would have been appreciated to communicate the expected impact on the project (as clearly this was due to circumstances that were not even related to WF).

    This has all been a great learning experience for me, Joe and Katie have been nothing but a pleasure to work with. Unavoidable delays happen in every aspect of life, and I know that this is not how WF had wanted this to unfold. I appreciate the confirmation that this is indeed a priority for WF (which is all that I was ever looking for). Hopefully my experience can help others avoid similar pitfalls.

    wfinvwf.jpg
     
  19. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 9, 2008
    Thanks for all of the encouragement everyone! I am as excited as ever (both about the ring, and the engagement) after receiving the CAD images last night. When Joe and I spoke the open item was the scroll work which I provided feedback today so hopefully I will see the rendering of the final product soon!



    It should be! He's had it for a while, if you are interested I'd probably contact Barry directly (if it hasn't been sold again already!)

    I'll post some photos.
     
  20. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 9, 2008
    Here is the shot Barry sent me.

    wf-S-1989n.jpg
     
  21. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 9, 2008
    Here is one I tried to take (never could have guessed how hard it is to accurately photograph stones!)

    The whitebalance is way off though...

    wf-IMG_0504 (Medium).JPG
     
  22. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 9, 2008
    And another

    wf-IMG_0506 (Medium).JPG
     
  23. walter
    Rough_Rock

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    by walter » Dec 9, 2008
    And one last shot. (all three were taken outdoors, well, all 4 including Barry's)

    I think this one is the closest to how it looked to me in real life however I feel they all give it a darker / bluer appearance. While beautiful it just was too light for what I was looking for.

    wf-IMG_0510 (Medium).JPG
     
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