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The reluctant wedding ring

Here is an interesting story and a question for everyone:

Two years ago a long-time acquaintance approached me and asked me to
design her wedding ring. She had met a lovely man and they wanted to
get married. I agreed. Theirs was a long-distance relationship so
she was between California and Michigan. She sent me styles (wide)
that interested her and told me that she loved some of my
floral-themed rings, asking me to please email her designs. I spent
3 hours drawing out multiple designs in detail, scanning and
emailing them to her. She loved them all and said she would get back
to me.

A month or so later we met at a coffee shop not close to my home.
She asked me to bring my sketch book. That meeting took another 3
hours of me drawing out designs and her changing her mind over and
over and over again. She did finally say that she definitely liked
one in particular.

At this point I have drawn 24 designs for this ring. That’s a first.
Hopefully a last. I did speak to her fiance, he is a lovely guy. She
is very nice but indecisive. The fiance sent me a downpayment of
$800 to get started on the very wide 18 k gold ring that I would
carve, cast and set. She was to get back to me to confirm which
design she wanted.

She never got back to me. Despite my multiple calls and emails to
her… 10 months passed.

At the 10 month point she emailed me, confirming that she wanted to
go ahead, but changed her mind again, altering the “favorite” to
change it to an open-work pattern. She “thinks” this is what she
finally wants, but wants to talk. I have called and written. No
reply. That was 4 weeks ago.

6 days ago I received a call from the fiance. He wanted to know what
was going on? I told him in as light a way as possible, that she
still was undecided about the design. He asked me point blank if I
had run into this before? I had to say that I had not, but that some
indecisiveness is normal. I asked if he would like me to return his
$800 until they sort it all out. I did tell him that if I returned
the money, I would have to keep some for the design work which is
usually included in the price of the finished ring. He was adamant
that he does not want the money back. He said he would speak to her
and get back to me. He has not. I have warned both of them that
should the price of gold go up or down, the final price would have
to reflect that fluctuation. He is ok with that.

So I am scratching my head here. Guessing that she really does not
want to marry this guy, but wants to stay in the relationship and
can’t tell him. Keeping the money until he says otherwise sounds
weird, but ok. If I refund the deposit, how much should I keep for
the design work? I am thinking around $200 considering the driving
around, multiple calls and time to email etc… What do you guys

File this under: Weirdest wedding ring experience to date.

PS: Please do feel free to share your own weird wedding ring
stories. I could use a laugh.

-Lisa (Spent yesterday rearranging 16’ pipe corral panels for my
lower goat pen. Man those suckers are heavy!) Topanga, CA USA


I would keep at least $200 for the troubles, which have been
considerable! Other than that, stay out of it. Go about your days
and be happy. You have bent over backwards for this lady and you’re
done! But if you proceed, I would tell them that you will have to
have a final decision but a certain date. If they don’t proceed then
keep some of the deposit and return the rest and have them go
elsewhere.If they choose to proceed make it crystal clear that this
is the FINAL design and if they make ANY alterations then they will
be charged accordingly, and stand firm on this. BEWARE, this is a
problem waiting to happen. Heed the birth pains here!!! I had a
similar problem, I designed a wedding set for a client’s customer,
from the customer’s ideas, and after I carved the set in wax she
wanted to make some minor alterations, no problem, I do them for free
if they are minor. She begged my client, the retailer, to actually
meet with me in my office to explain the changes, which I DO NOT
usually do. WARNING!! My client also asked and said they would drive
up together and she would be there while she explained things. I
reluctantly agreed.

I made the changes, and she said to proceed. After the rings were
completed, I sent them to my client who was sure that she would love
them because they were perfect, she presented them to her client who
flipped out when she saw them! She wanted to make MAJOR changes after
they were cast and the diamonds were set, which I refused to do. She
then threatened to sue me, the retailer, and everyone else on the
planet! She also used the bridal shop next to me and threatened to
sue them over stupid issues, she even was going to sue the florist
down the street that she used because the pollen from her flowers got
onto her wedding dress!!! NUTS!! 2 years later…nothing! She was
just plain crazy! So BEWARE!!!

PS: Please do feel free to share your own weird wedding ring
stories. I could use a laugh. 

There are several times I have had trouble starting an engagement
ring and I felt tortured every day. I just could not focus and
concentrate on that project. Each time the person who ordered it came
in and asked if I had started it, as I guiltily replied “no”, the
person said they were glad, plans had changed and they wanted to

Just happened a few days ago. Made a mold of the man’s ring, sized
it down for the fiance, cast one, it was a bad casting. Recast, I was
ready to put the bezel I made for thesapphire on it. This has been
going on for about 6 months, the customer was really casual about
when it was to be done. I had called him to tell him about the
miscast last week, that I would have it in a week and a half. He
came in Tuesday and told me the “finance” finally told him about her
reservations about getting married, she was freaking out about
getting married. He just wanted the ring finished, don’t add the
sapphire. He wished she had communicated how she felt sooner as he
had not known anyting about her reservations about marriage.

Then there was a woman that my employee remembered as a PITA, she
was really particular about the ring design and it took a lot to get
it just right. She was in last week, about two years later, wanting
to know where she could sell it…

If it were me, I would consider the deposit an interest free loan
unti= l a decision is made that allows you to finish or let go of the
project. Don’t be so concerned about what to charge for what you
have done so far or about returning the deposit. The resolution will
be clear when the time comes. You will know what to do. Might work
out that you keep the whole deposit and do no further work, he might
feel like it is a less expensive option for you to keep the deposit
for what you have done and cancel the project considering how things
have gone so far. He knows your time has been taken up and he might
feel guilty about putting you through this.

If and when a decision is made on what the design is to be, use your
common sense and give a range of what the quote to finish will be,
best case and worse case price. Just say it depends on how much
labor it will take and you are not sure until you make it. I do that
on custom pieces when I do not know how long the labor will be.

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


the customer who cant make up their mind.

Ive had a few, fortunately, only at my own exhibitions. Where there
are lots of folk queuing up to look and buy.

so The customer who isnt sure or cant make up their mind is dealt
with as follows. Thanks for looking, as your not sure, go and have a cup
of tea and a think about it some more. Thanks. Who’next?!!

Also everything is priced, with lots of written on
display. Time at shows has to be productive.

For example

Art in Action Oxford has 25,000 buyers over 4 days thats over 6,000 a
day. Its my job to get as many of them to look at what I make and
help them choose whats suitable for them. If over the last couple of
days I dont have their size, I take payment with contact details and
make and post within 7 days. everyone is happy. Dont be afraid to
turn the difficult or impossible job down, unless you consider it a
learning curve.


You have wasted more than $200.00 of time, I would keep at least
$350.00 for your time and drawings (should be more). I would also
return the rest of the deposit with a note showing them a credit of
$350.00 if she chooses the design you have already worked on.

Bill Wismar

At the least you have designs for the next client, and enough to
make your time worth while. My sympathy goes out to the fiancee.
there seems to be no filter between serious clients and quacks. And
sometimes the quacks turn out to be the best customers.

PS: Please do feel free to share your own weird wedding ring
stories. I could use a laugh. 

At least she’s changing her mind and dithering around BEFORE you
actually make the rings. I’ve had customers who went through much
this process, except being firm about the design desired, finalizing
the whole choice, and then, only after I’d finished the rings and was
delivering them, totally changed her mind, wanting something entirely
different. And the kicker about this, is that one such customer was
the fiance of my nephew (seems the design I’d been asked to make was
more her mothers idea, and only after I finished it did she have th
courage to suggest that it wasn’t at all what she’d had in her mind
since she was a little girl. BTW, they’re seperated now, getting
divorced, less than two years into the marriage, but after the birth
of a delighful little girl, who we hope, will grow up to be less of a
flake than her mom). And the other such customer I can think of is
the sister of that nephew, my niece. After lots of decisions and
emailing back and forth, I got done what we’d decided, only to find,
on delivery, that ummm, she kinda wanted to make a few changes. and
those changes, of course, kinda required a complete remake of the
whole ring… Not an easy one either. I’m still working on it…

And of course, to make it worse, since these were my niece and
nephew, I wasn’t making any money on them, just charging for my cost
of materials, giving them my labor etc. as a wedding present. Moral
of the story, no good dead goes unpunished.

Don’t get me wrong, though. they’re both really great kids. I love
em both very much. I just wish they’d had a bit clearer idea of what
was wanted before they had me make the rings…


I would agree. Especially about returning the money.

I had a similar client. The groom was a dream–an architect- he knew
exactly what he wanted when he looked at drawings. The bride… Ah,
the bride. She was training to be a psychologist. We changed the wax
countless times, I even adapted the finished piece. This was the
wrong thing to do. I was young. No one ended up happy.

I am now vey clear about expectations, realities and
responsibilities. Holding on to their money (the balance) could bite
you in the end.

Just my thoughts…

My girlfriend is a Family Law attorney, so I hear the results of
fragmented relationships. It is really difficult to tell these
people to get their anger under control and move on with their lives
when they blame others, especially when their expectations are

Hi, Sorry to hear about this strange experience! I always document
everything. Paper trails happy trails! Of course, when you can be
flexible for the customer, do so. But, contracts and documentation
are a great way for dealing with crazymaker clients.That said, I hope
that life goes well for each of the people in this relationship.Keep
shining and happy holidays,


Well my wedding ring story is not that weir but different, I was
asked to redesign their diamond rings after their marriage fell
apart, they didn’t want to remind the pass but want to keep the
diamond so ask me to design a ring with their diamonds in it, they
were happy that could wear the rings again.

If I refund the deposit, how much should I keep for the design
work? I am thinking around $200 considering the driving around,
multiple calls and time to email etc... What do you guys think? File
this under: Weirdest wedding ring experience to date. PS: Please do
feel free to share your own weird wedding ring stories. I could use
a laugh. 

I would probably keep at least $200 for designing. I’ve learned the
hard way to always use a contract on commission work and I have a
minimum which equates to about 2 hours work.

As far as stories go, let’s see…

Well there was the guy, who was a chemistry postgrad, who had
titrated gold out of solution and wanted me to use it in the rings.
Even after I explained the problems with this unrefined metal, he
insisted. I told him he was paying for it whether it worked or not.
So, did the wax, did the cast, slight porosity on the surface,
cleaned up OK. Sent it to the stone setter. Got a frantic call from a
colleague who had recommended the setter. It seems the whole top of
the ring peeled off! I explained, we laughed, paid him and called the
client. Did everything from scratch the RIGHT way, no problems. The
client paid more for the ring than he needed too, but he learned
something, I hope.

Then there was the guy who wanted rings made out wood instead of
metal because of damage to the environment and exploitation of
workers. He wanted exotic hardwood. I pointed out that most of the
gold in circulation for jewelry was recycled and that those
hardwoods might come from clearcut rainforest or areas where
indigenous people were moved out of ancestral lands. We went round
and round. He said he would think about it. I never heard from him,
but found out a few months later they went to Wal-Mart to buy their
rings! So much for supporting the local economy and artists!

Ruthanne Robertson

I had an experience at one point in time sort of similar to this. I
drew up a design and then cut a wax for a customers wedding band
using her diamonds. She approved and I cast and set. When I
delivered the piece however the customer took one look at the ring
and said " I hate it, it is nothing you did. It is exactly what I
thought I wanted but now that I see it I just hate it". She was just
deflated and did not know what to do. I told her to wear the ring for
a couple of weeks and if she still did not like it to bring it back
and we would work something out. She paid me for the ring and left
the studio very dejected. Two weeks later she returned and still
hated the ring, but had an idea about why and what we could do next.
I worked with her on a new design, which we added some diamonds to.
At that point I told her I would give her full credit for the other
ring, remove her diamonds and make a new ring with the additional
diamonds at no charge other than the added diamond weight. Basic out
come was I broke even on the piece and created a very happy and loyal
customer. When she decided to sell her Rolex watch she brought it to
me, and when she moved away to another town she still came back to do
business with me. I admittedly took a chance by redesigning her ring
and giving her full credit on the original, but I created a loyal and
happy customer. The point is you have to judge each instance
individually and each customer as a person. There is no set “do it
this way”. We are all trying to create a profitable business and
sometimes you have to give to get. What is a loyal repeat customer
really worth and at what point does a customer (someone you hope to
make a profit doing business with) become instead, a liability
(someone you lose money with). Just my take on this and hopefully
some food for thought.

Frank Goss

That story was a classic example and a reminder to me that I need to
charge more. You think it’s all going to go 1,2,3 but it just keeps
on going and going and going. It also reminds me of how many times I
have been working with a couple and I can clearly see, by one or the
other persons behavior, that this marriage is a very bad idea. I
feel compelled to tell then that this really is never going to work
out. But you just can’t say that to people without hurting their
feelings…or blowing the sale. ; - )


I just returned a customers diamond and tanzanites today. And I am so
happy to do so. She is a nurse and was worried about wearing the soft
side stones. He had design in his mind that was going to be next to
imposable to turn into a wearable ring. I probably had about 3 hours
of design and wax time involved. I would much rather eat the time
than make an unwearable ugly ring. My hope is he goes to some other
jeweler in town, or if he comes back that I can say with a smile,
sorry I am too busy to take on your project.

Janine, in Redding CA, where I am ready for spring flowers to bloom