I don't normally do custom work, as I am 99% wholesale.
However, recently, I made a custom ring for someone- and now she
wants to return it, 2 months after the fact. I don't want anyone to
have my jewelry if they don't want it, but it was a $500 gold custom
ring. It would take me years to sell- if ever. And.. I gave her a
discount, on wholesale!!!! She's the partner of a store that ordered
twice from me about 2 years ago. Not a huge account, I am not worried
about keeping the account. I do want to do what's right here, but the
thought of refunding their money chills me. Especially because I made
exactly what she wanted. EXACTLY. I can fix the crown points hitting
her finger, or she can take it to a local jeweler, that's super easy.
But it sounds like the partner made a mistake, and I don't know what
to do. Any suggestions would be appreciated. Thanks.
well, this has been really hard. i gave her the ring-- the waiter
brought it for dessert. she put it on, she took it off before
bed, then she never put it on again. no showing everybody,
telling anybody. just this past saturday night (our daughter was
with my sister) we talked about it. it's the only ring i've ever
bought. it's the only ring anyone's ever bought her. but the
crown points hurt her finger. and she had decided she didn't want
a ring because there is no ring out there-- she wants big stones
on a ring that has a small top and a smaller bottom (so it
doesn't cut into her fingerpads). all that (sorry if it's too
much) being said, is there anything we can do?
Amery Carriere Designs
I had a case similar to yours some yrs ago,
The customer brought the bracelet back, I offered to sell it for her
for what she paid, when sold, id only THEN pay her. worked well. It
was a regular line so I had no doubts that it would sell. So you
could offer her that option, or, offer her the gold price, what it
cost you, plus, the trade price of any stone you supplied, assuming
you can use it in the future. As you cannot get back your time and
overheads in its making. or, tell her to sell it to another jewelly
store. or, have the balls to say no.
Being you don't interact with the public I believe you probably
don't have a policy on refunding/remaking a custom ring.
We had a no refund policy on custom work but would remake the ring
once without charge (except if more materials were used).
For the young lady nothing will make her happy. This will haunt you
for a while.
Just give them their money back, don't even worry about the "1 year
to sell it". Take it apart, scrap it and move on.
Then have a policy written up, signed for your custom form for the
I would offer to rework the prongs,or remake the ring with a labor
charge but thats all. She ordered the ring you made it and she owns
it. I know there are folks out there that will say give the money
back for good will, sorry I disagree. If you pay someone to paint
your house and you change your mind on the color should they repaint
it free. If you would have charged her full retail labor to make the
ring then I would say remake it for free but you did not. Shame on
her for asking you to refund her money.
Offer to take back the ring and refund the cost of materials, but do
not refund the cost of labor. On custom work labor should never be
Did the client design the ring? If you made the ring to exactly
their specs and it became an issue with prongs hitting her side
fingers several things should have been said up front.
#1. I never take returns on customs unless there is a manufacturing
defect in workmanship. That should be said up front.
#2. If the ring was designed wrong in the first place, causing the
problem, it should have been brought up at that stage. The design
should have been changed.
#3. You, making a custom piece, shouldn't have to guarantee
acceptance of engagement on their part. IF it was just straight buy
it out of store..then that would be different.
#4 There is no way you can take back the labor you put into it. IF
you want to take it back then I would get your labor and refining
costs out of the piece to recover any intended losses and a
surcharge. Maybe it will work out best for both of you this way. If
it isn't a big deal to lose an account over it say goodbye to a bad
account and get another. IF you give in to this then it will keep
happening over and over again with them.
#5. And lastly, which should have been said first, there should be
in place some policy with your accounts about custom orders.
I don't make cad models for people and not charge for my time,
whether the customer accepts it or not. I do the cad order, render it
for them and they decide. IF the customer doesn't come back to buy
the design it is not my problem. I don't guarantee the sales just the
My two cents worth.
bit of a conumdrum as the customer is not the recipient (or intended
recipient anyway). Your customer does ask is there anything we can do
so that is a start point for negotiation and not a fixed position.
When you say the partner/customer made a mistake, do you mean with
the choice of intended recipient or with the choice of article? Not
intended to be rude but the comment about no ring being out there is
quite telling about theliklihood of any solution being acceptable to
the intended recipient rather than the actual paying customer. This
make the possibility of an exchange less likely. The 2 month delay in
wanting to do something about it also says quite a lot regarding what
they hope you will do (full refund) compared to what they expect you
to do (nothing-their hard luck).
I wouldnt have had the cheek to ask for a consideration in the first
place but it looks as though face saving is more important to them
then the exact solution. Ask them what they expect you to do about a
custom piece at a special price after this time when it is not
Tough call, Amery. I usually don't offer returns on custom designs
and during the process of making the piece, I walk the customer
through every step of the process from drawings to wax model to
finished piece. In 40 years of custom design and manufactur, I can
count the returns on one hand. If I were in your shoes, I'd first see
if you can get the customer to trade the piece in for another, either
a stock piece or another custom piece. If that doesn't work, then she
isn't really unhappy with the design, she's decided she shouldn't
have spent the money. That's not your fault, offer to sell it on
consignment for her and take a percentage (which you would deserve
because, if and when someone buys it, they won't be buying something
else in your store). Explain to her the problem, it was made to her
tastes and cost more in time than a production piece to produce so it
ends up outside your well thought out price point system. That means
it's difficult to sell for two reasons: price and style. You've
probably already paid sales tax on it and paid other bills with the
money, this the kind of thing that just kills cash flow.
David L. Huffman
Dear Amery; Really touchy subject. I would suggest that you give her
a $250 coupon toward another purchase, and put a cap of at least
$750 on the purchase. That way you get a new order, get the ring
back, and can melt it down to make the new one.
In my opinion.... the return time has well passed. TWO MONTHS!!!!
What's next... 2 YEARS!??
If I did anything...
1. Naturally as you said... offer to fix the ring...
2. I would offer to sell the ring for them... and take a small
3. IF I gave in and took the piece back... (you know, that day snow
turns green)...there would danged sure be a return fee... A STOUT
4. Offer to take the stones, & metal and make something they
want...at your wholesale rate.
That's about all I'd offer. Best of luck to ya!
I'm replying to a thread, not picking on this thread. Everyone has
posted that you should not refund their money. I had posted to refund
and move on and what we did.
We had our policy and returns and remakes hung on the wall in a
picture frame. As you left the door the policy was in a brochure for
taking and we explained the process and we'd remake it once if
Company policy was easily explained and obtainable
if this is a complete surprise to the customer in my opinion you
can't just spring it on them later.
They should have your policy in their hands before they leave the
I do the cad order, render it for them and they decide. IF the
customer doesn't come back to buy the design it is not my problem. I
don't guarantee the sales just the model.
She ordered the ring you made it and she owns it. I know there are
folks out there that will say give the moneyback for good will,
sorry I disagree. If you pay someone to paint your house and you
change your mind on the color should they repaint it free.
I put it very simply: I guarantee that what I make is what you asked
me to make in every detail. I do NOT guarantee that what you asked me
to make is what you thought you wanted. There are those who want you
to make stuff so they can decide if they like it, and they will put
you out of business if you let them. I've had this very conversation
and then they say, "Well, I guess if I have to pay for it I better
make sure that I'm sure." That's called dodging a bullet in our line
Now, that doesn't mean that you should be cruel, cut them loose and
tell them to take a hike. If the piece can be altered then that
would be the first choice - at the customer's expense, of course. If
it is something that's big on materials and small on labor I would
consider buying it back for scrap. Consignment is certainly an
option. Jo-Ann is sitting here saying that she used to get this
scenario quite a bit in a retail store, and sometimes they would
just take it back. That is a store's option - buying goodwill,
But they still pay me, the maker. You asked me to make something.
You came to my shop of your own will and asked me to do work for
you. The work is done, it's done to spec, pay me. There has been one
and only one time that I just flat-out ate a job, and that was a
truly heartbreaking story about a botched engagement that doesn't
bear repeating except to say that the groom had two brides on
tap..... It's a business. Treat it like one.
Ted, I think these two options might be my best bet. I really don't
want someone out there with a piece of my work that they don't want
and feel bitter towards me. But I will not loose money on this deal.
I refuse to be responsible for her bad decisions. She will have to
meet me more than half way if she doesn't want to keep the ring.
I'm just worried if I take it back to sell it for her that she'll
try and dispute the credit card charge. -amery
Amery Carriere Designs
Thanks Bill- I like the house painting analogy. And I'm not working
with her again, even as an out. I did exactly what she asked for and
now I'm getting the run around about the prongs, and not even
wanting a ring, because her perfect ring doesn't exist. eh. Deal
with someone else.
Pat, if it was retail, that would be a great idea. But at wholesale,
it's just not worth it. I don't want to work with them again, after
doing exactly what was asked for- exactly- and it's still not good
enough, I don't know how I would ever please them. I'm done with her.
She made a mistake and she wants me to clean it up for her at my
I meant a mistake in the ring- not the partner... haha.
I responded to her email asking her what she wanted as an outcome. I
am happy to fix the top of the crown, that's easy. We'll see what
We are accomplices in setting emotion into metal and stone. Emotions
make no sense. Metal, stone, and emotions are our trade.
Never compromise on the trade, but always compromise on the
emotions. Emotions are the prime factor.
We are accomplices in setting emotion into metal and stone.
Emotions make no sense. Metal, stone, and emotions are our trade.
Never compromise on the trade, but always compromise on the
emotions. Emotions are the prime factor.
Great wisdom! Thank you for sharing.
okay, it's been 2 months since she took possession of the ring,
wearing it 'once'. it sounds as though it's taken her all that time
to come up with an excuse to get the money back. consider any of
these - 1. she doesn't like the stone she specified. - 2. she heard
a negative comment from someone about the ring - 3. she now regrets
spending the money on the ring or has found another ring she'd like
amery, whatever her reason for wanting to return the ring, it has
nothing to do with you anymore. you did not make the ring 'on spec'
- you made it to order. those orders had specificity and weren't just
"well, here's the ring size and i like 'green' stones - oh, and make
it out of gold", and from then on you made your own choices and
designs without any consultation or further input, in that case i'd
say "don't sprain your wrist pulling out you check book."
ASK YOURSELF THIS: if you ordered material from one of your
suppliers and got exactly what you listed, would you tell the
supplier two months later that you changed your mind and want to send
it back for a full refund?
good luck -
Perhaps you have resolved this situation, I haven't read all the
posts. I bought a necklace years ago from a man who said it was
custom made for someone else, who decided, they didn't want after
all. I loved and still love that necklace. I think he was making it
for me, he just didn't know it. I don't know if he got his money back
or not, but I sure was happy. So, what I am trying to say is that,
perhaps you made the ring for some one else, that someone just hasn't
seen it yet, and then everyone will be happy.
I have seen people order a steak rare, get a rare steak, and then
complain about the blood.