Once the ring has been sent away you think that the stressful parts are over. Not true at all. Here comes the waiting game, documenting, sending and hoping the girl wants the ring. Many of these events are out of your control so dealing with them is a big tenuous. Remember to smile and keep going.
The Wait and Receiving
After the ring is sent be prepared to wait. The least amount of time a foundry will take can be around 3 weeks. I have waited up to 10 weeks at busy times of the year. Therefore be patient and hope it gets done quickly. Sometimes clients won’t understand that this wait is normal. To keep them happy just be honest and polite by emphasizing that this wait is out of your hands. You can also tell them that good work takes time. When the ring is shipped to you the complexities don’t end.
Remember items with a high amount of insurance can’t just be left on your doorstep. You need to be there in person to receive it. Sometimes the shipping companies will not even let a neighbor sign for it. Therefore figuring out how to drop off the piece can be a bit complicated. If you have a full time job you can have is shipped there but that means you might have to carry around an expensive ring with you all day.
I found a great loophole. Have the ring shipped to your home and if you happen to be home it is like winning the lottery. If you are not home have the item delivered to the nearest drop off location the next day. For FedEx Kinkos and for UPS Mail Boxes Etcetera will hold it for you to pick up after hours. A foundry will never send an item by US Postal, too risky. You can drive out to the central processing point but these can be in random areas outside town, usually near an airport.
Photos and Sending
After you get the piece take photos. Never trust the client to send you photos. Either they won’t be high enough quality or most likely will never come. Because the client is busy and if the woman says yes they have to start planning a wedding.
If the time is tight and you can’t guilty trip a photographer to take photographs take them yourself. Use natural light, a good lens and a tripod. These might not be professional quality but they will be good enough for your portfolio.
Before sending items make sure you have received full payment for the ring. This is true no matter what the relationship is with the client. If they promise to pay more for faster shipping make them pay in advance. Most likely the insurance will be so high that it will be overnight shipping anyway. Package the item but don’t seal it. Most likely the shippers will want to verify the item before shipping for insurance. Send it off and hope for the best.
Hoping She Says Yes (and doesn’t cancel)
As the maker of this ring you are in a tough spot. Most likely you have built a relationship with the client. What if the bride-to-be says no? Well you can have a shop policy about this but even with that it’s a tough call.
Part of the deal of a handmade ring is that it is one of a kind and made for that couple. Unfortunately, you can’t just think, “Well why don’t you use this ring for another couple its still one of a kind.” In addition many people don’t like buying the rings from failed engagements. It could be superstition or it could be the fact that they want their own.
As a small jeweler I can’t really afford a failed engagement and try to make that clear. At the same time I don’t want to be a jerk. I sit and hope for the best.
Making engagement rings is extremely rewarding. Just a few months ago I attended a wedding where I had made the engagement ring for one of my best friends in College. The bride had no idea and the groom contacted me in secret. I didn’t know the groom, although the process of designing and making the ring made us closer. At the wedding I was so touched to see the two of them bound together by a ring I had made. For the rest of my life, part of my work, and myself, will be part of their marriage.
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