baby, behbeh, Customer service, department store, engagement, engagement ring, experience, forever, gem, gems, happiness, husband, life, Lobster, Lord & Taylor, marriage, memories, ring, ruined, unhappy, wedding, wedding ring, wife
(our wedding day)
8 years ago, Lobster and I walked into the Lord & Taylor store on Chestnut street in Philadelphia, with just over a hundred and twenty dollars in our pockets, hoping to buy an engagement ring for me. We were pretty broke college students, my family had just recently given us their blessings and we had scraped together what little money we had between the both of us to get a ring.
I was never someone who wanted that fancy diamond solitaire from Tiffanys, that wasn’t me. I had wanted something “Different”.. with a capital D. Something that you could look at and say, “Yup, thats definitely something Javi would love.” About half an hour later I walked out of Lord and Taylor, in love, for a second time (first being my then Fiance – Lobster).
My ring was PERFECT!
I had found a white gold ring, with three tiny diamonds on either side, and a gorgeous lavender purple/blue tanzanite set in the middle and we had paid for it ourselves, upfront. On the way back to our dorms, Lobster kept asking if I wanted something bigger… or more expensive and I told him I didn’t. I was proud of our little ring.
“One day,” I told him, “we are going to be able to look back at this time and remember how broke we were when we started our lives together. This ring will always remind me of where we started and that it was never about the money, but rather what we mean to each other.”
I meant every word. A few years ago one of my best friends got engaged. Her hubby bought her this gorgeous huge diamond and amethyst engagement ring and Lobster asked me once again if I had wished my ring was bigger and more expensive. My reply to him was, “No. I love my ring and I would never ever trade it for anything. I’m proud of this ring and what it means and someday, when Behbeh is older, I’ll give this to her so that she knows where her parents started from.”
To say that I am extremely sentimentally attached to my ring, would be the truth.
A few years ago, just through basic wear and tear, I got a small chip on the side of my stone which you can see in the high res version of the picture above. The shot is from Behbeh’s one month photoshoot. Our amazing photographer, Amanda wanted to incorporate our rings into the shoot.
Despite the small chip, I didn’t want to replace the stone until I had found something of equal value to replace it and even then I wanted to take the original chipped stone, encase it into a pendant and give that to Behbeh once she was older.
So last year, on November 1st, I had decided I wanted to get the ring cleaned, as I had done in the years prior, I took it to Lord and Taylor. The original store in Philadelphia had long since shut down but there was a location in Bala Cynwyd that we could drive to so off we went.
We spoke to the manager of the fine jewelry department there who took my ring in for cleaning. I figured while we were there we could find out how much it would cost to get an equal value replacement stone put in and get my original stone back. She said it would take up to 18 business days to clean my ring and get an estimate on how much a replacement stone would cost with labor included. I was assured over and over again that the quality would be of equal cut, clarity and value to my original stone and I would get my original stone returned to me with the ring and new stone.
I signed the paperwork (excuse the blocked out bits with my personal info):
November came and went and I heard nothing from the store. It got to the point where I had to call them every week once or twice a week to see if my ring and stone had any update. Finally in the beginning of december, I got a call from the store telling me the Repair center that Lord & Taylor works with finally found a stone of “equal value” to my stone and it would cost $100.
I was a little perplexed as to why it would only cost $100 considering Tanzanites are more rare now than they were 8 years ago but I said okay, go ahead and replace the stone and send everything back to me. Once again, I was assured by the store that the new stone would be of equal cut, weight, color and clarity as my original stone and the original stone would be returned to me.
A couple more weeks went by and the repair center (after ALOT Of phone calls from me to the store) rushed my ring back to me. December 21st, I went to go pick up my ring. I got to the store at around 6 in the evening, and rushed in to get my items. The manager of the fine jewelry department, that I had been in touch with was there and immediately brought over my ring to me. THEN she proceeded to tell me that the repair department had “Forgotten” to send back the paperwork regarding the quality of my stones AND they’d “forgotten” to send back my original stone as well.
Apparently, they were in “such a rush to get the ring back” to me that they completely forgot to send back the original chipped stone and paperwork. The manager kept assuring me that because of the holiday rush it would be a few days but I should definitely have it back after new years. I told her she’d be hearing from me immediately after new years day.
As I was walking back to the car, in the dark, I looked at the replacement stone in my ring and realized something was off but I couldn’t place my finger on it. By the time I drove home 20 minutes later, I was bawling my eyes out because I had realized they had replaced in a very VERY faded out stone, that had a bizarre cut down the back middle of the stone. It was a botched cut job done by what looked like an amateur. The cut down the middle was creating a weird faded out spot in the middle rather than being a brilliant purple in regular light.
I was devastated. I was out $106.00, had no idea where my original stone was and was left with this cheap knockoff of a stone instead. The very next day, on December 22nd, I filed a formal complaint with Lord & Taylor’s corporate office. I gave them a complete explanation of everything that had happened and was assured that within 7 business days I would be hearing back from someone from the investigation team.
Christmas, New years all came and went and I never heard anything from the store where I had left my ring initially OR from the corporate office. So I started calling both. The fine jewelry manager told me that she was on top of it, but due to the holiday rush it would be a few days before they got me my stone back. I told her my stone wasn’t there to get worked on, someone just needed to do their job and mail it back like they were supposed to initially. I got the party line of “I’ll let you know as soon as it comes in.”
The corporate line from L&T came back with “we are still waiting to investigate it as we’ve been very busy due to the holiday rush”. This went on for another two weeks. Every time I called the store, I got told it would be in the next shipment… and then nothing. Sometimes the shipment never came in or when it did, my stone wasn’t with it and no one had any idea where exactly my stone was.
Finally last week, I had enough and got back on the phone with corporate, demanding to get some answers. I was also on twitter and facebook trying to get someone… ANYONE from Lord & Taylor to pay attention to me rather than write me off. The woman that I spoke to on the corporate line finally told me that all they could do was kick the issue back to the store so I was better off asking to speak to the store manager. The lady on the phone also agreed with me that it sounded like the repair center OR the jewelry department was giving me the run around and that just wasn’t ok.
So… I called the store manager and explained everything out to her. After she spoke to the repair center, she said that my stone would be shipped out immediately to me and I should have it at latest by MLK day (yesterday). So, after getting the tracking number from them, we saw it was delivered yesterday and went to go pick it up.
As we got into the store, I had behbeh in my arms, Lobster carrying all our paperwork and the ring with the botched up stone… and we waited in line to speak with the associate in the fine jewelry department. The lady finally got to us after dealing with the first set of customers and brought out the stone and went to get the release forms for me to sign so she could move on to the next customer.
I told her I wanted to look at the stone first before I signed anything and agreed to take anything home. Turns out that was the best thing I could have done for myself. It wasn’t my stone. The color was darker than I remembered, the stone looked bigger and more importantly, the stone was a rounded oval that looked like it had been buffed down by sandpaper in a 4 year old’s hands, on one side. So the rounded oval was lopsided on one side. And THAT is what I was being told, was my stone.
We told the associate that this wasn’t my stone and she proceeded to argue with me that the paperwork said it was and the repair center said it was. I told her that I had had my stone for 8 years and THIS was not my stone and IF it was my stone then where was the chip on the side??? She didn’t really answer. We asked to speak to the store manager. The lady told us the department manager would be in tomorrow and we could come back to talk to her. I told her I wasn’t interested in dealing with the department manager again, I wanted the store manager. She finally complied and went to get her.
The store manager showed up immediately and recognized me from having spoken to me on the phone a few days earlier. I showed her the stone and told her that it wasn’t my stone because it looked too big, it looked too dark, it was lopsided and someone had buffed it (IF it was my stone, which it wasn’t) without my permission and it was ruined. I wanted to know what she was going to do about it. She said she was going to get her blackberry to take a picture.
I was so upset by that point that I was shaking and could tell I was going to start bawling in public. I Hate HATE crying in public, so I left the store and stood outside in the middle of the snowstorm, bawling my eyes out. All I could think of was how the one thing that meant so much to me about that ring and stone… flaws and all was now absolutely and completely ruined thanks to Lord & Taylor. After a few minutes, I composed myself and walked back in to talk to the manager again.
She explained that she would be speaking to the owner of the repair center tomorrow (today) and let me know what happens and what he says about the stone and what happened to it.
We left the store with her business card in hand, no original stone, and a ring in my bag with a botched stone set in it. I cried the entire way home, so much so that Behbeh kept asking from the back of the car “mama crying? mama ok?? give mama hugs????”
One of a few things is probably what happened:
1. the repair center never thought i’d ask for the chipped stone back so they were rebuffing it to resell to another customer… and when i demanded i get my stone back they panicked and had to send me that stone, now buffed.
2. Above scenario but they sent me another stone and buffed it on the side so I wouldn’t be able to tell if it was or wasn’t my stone.
3. They broke/lost the stone and sent another one pretending it was mine.
In any of those scenarios, I am now out the original stone that Lobster and I bought 8 years ago, as broke college students, just looking to start their lives together… and while its “just a stone” I will never ever get that back regardless of the outcome of this.
I have had a few emails/phone calls today in regards to this matter, but thats for tomorrow’s post. This has gotten long enough. I urge anyone looking to buy/clean/repair jewelry to please go to a reputable gemologist. Don’t go to a department store like I did, you won’t know who is actually working on your stone and heaven forbid you go through what I went through with Lord & Taylor.