What do you think is the single biggest complaint customers have in their dealings with jewellers?
With no runner-up in sight.
Here's a typical scenario: You spent your hard earned money on an engagement ring, and somehow it has been damaged (bent, lost a diamond etc....) on your fiancee's hand without an apparent cause like a car accident.
Obviously, you're disappointed and take the ring back to to the jeweller. You expect to get some TLC, hopefully an apology, and a plan to get the ring back in shape.
“It was fine when it left the store…sir.”
Take a good look at this ring. You can assume the ring didn't leave the jewellery store in this bent state. It was damaged by whoever was in possession of the ring. Maybe the ring took a ride under a office-chair foot, it dropped and was subsequently stepped on, a million things can happen to a ring.
Now that you've seen it in bent form, can you see the ring was made overly fine and thin, and wouldn't ever stand a chance to wither 50 years of wear and tear? It was bound to bend and break.
Our team of great designers would never have made the transition from ring/band to collet so thin. It's a poor design with built in obsolescence. The ring also suffers from poor symmetry.
The ring will have to be remade, since bending it back into shape just further softens the metal. And you'll have a steep invoice heading to your inbox.
Although you'll feel this should never have happened with a high quality ring, the jeweller is within his rights to shove the bill over to you. If you read their guarantee you probably would have seen the "wear and tear" exclusion.
1. You bought a ring in perfect good shape.
2. Your fiancee wore the ring.
3. And now the ring is damaged for some reason.
4. The jeweller says it's due to wear and tear.
5. They repair the ring, and you’ll have to pay before you get your hands on it in a few week's time.
The true nature of these guarantees are easy to spot once you know what to look for. They’re waivers. 99% of engagement ring damage is due to wear and tear.
Engagement rings are unique pieces of jewellery that need to withstand decades of everyday life. They should be designed sturdier than a pendent or a cocktail ring with a ruby. There’s a bit of a catch 22 here… massively thick rings will be ultra-durable, but not aesthetically pleasing.
The biggest risk in dealing with a price-match jeweller is that metal will be sparsely used, and this compromises quality and structural integrity of any jewellery piece without an exception.
This is not what you imagined. This should have been a celebratory time in your life.
Take a look at two well known Jeweller's Hello Peter reports, and keep in mind Hello Peter is a complaining platform, the overly positive reviews are most probably fake;
Not a list you'd love to join? Then get in touch.
#1 How we see guarantees.
We’re probably the only jeweller in SA that doesn’t have a standard product warranty or guarantee. We don’t price-match and we don’t run fake all year “sales” either. You won’t find bogus “authenticity guarantees”, or any hazy wording on our website or in one of our studios.
I want to make something clear: I want you to choose Poggenpoel™ for the manufacturing of your engagement ring, or any diamond jewellery for that matter. I'm not on a moral high horse - I want to be your first choice and a jeweller that your know has your best interests at heart.
We're not playing the short game. You should be so blown away with your interactions with us and our products that you send your whole estate our way.
But I believe your trust and support should be earned, through full transparency on our side, the best diamond options, designs that outshine every other jeweller, excellent pricing, and your absolute peace of mind, knowing we’ll take good care of you. Today, or in 5 years time.
That’s important to us.
Are you a very experienced diamond expert? Probably not. And that leaves room for a jeweller to take advantage of you.
You've probably picked up on this already but - I promise you; we have your back. I'm your representative, and its my duty to ensure you get the best engagement ring for your money without losing or dropping quality 1%.
The bulk of our customers are and have always been referrals. Sometimes from folks who bought a ring many, many years ago. Even if there was an issue with their ring, they know we’ll resolve it, and never walk away from our jewellery. That's why they shove their friends our way without hesitation.
Our commitment to our top-shelf quality jewellery cannot be overstated. Neglected and damaged rings don’t do us any good.
We only look good when you look great.
Why you value the sight of a "guarantee".
Apart from houses, every expensive purchase you’ve made up to this point probably came with a comprehensive (or just long) guarantee that you assume promises that if the product doesn’t work as advertised or intended, the product would be fixed or replaced within a reasonable period.
Sinotec TV’s grabbed a decent amount of the local TV market by offering decent quality TVs with an unrivalled 5-year guarantee. With the average TV watcher replacing their TV every 4 - 5 years your Sinotec will be under warranty pretty much for the duration of its life in your home. 20
Another example: I love music and audio equipment, and a few years back I set out to buy the amplifier of my dreams. This LFD integrated amp, apart from being hailed by the snobbiest audiophiles as the best, came with a 25-year guarantee. It’s basically a lifetime guarantee on an electronic component. Unheard of.
We’re hardwired to avoid risk, and guarantees can work they're magic.
Seemingly amazing guarantees have 2 effects:
◦ You’ll assume products are durable and don’t break down or wear out prematurely. That’s why the business or brand can financially justify this oddly long guarantee period.
◦ You can enjoy the product without a worry in the world, and maybe spend a bit more than planned due to this guarantee and implied longevity.
In the jewellery world, some form of a “guarantee” is a great lubricant that lowers perceived risk and ups the likelihood of closing your sale. The more guarantees and warranties the jeweller presents, the “safer” your purchase seems...
Good to Know: We did some market research last month and got in a few quotes from popular jewellers in Pretoria and Johannesburg. The jeweller with the worst rating on Hello Peter, and the most bogus guarantees you've read in your life proudly stated in a quote that no jeweller can come close to their 3 guarantees - and then they link out to these terms and conditions. They knew the upside of mentioning superior guarantees will outweigh the deals lost to folks actually reading the crazy terms.
Why you really don’t need an engagement ring guarantee.
I’ve written over 200 000 words on our blog. Believe me, I can quickly draft a product guarantee, and design a fancy banner or image and stick it across our website and every email signature.
We consciously choose not to have a product guarantee in place. They’re abused in this industry, and it’s hard to word one that isn’t a waiver, since we have no idea what a customer will put a ring through. Some don't have a scratch after a few months - other look like they just hiked back from World War 2.
Every guarantee, transparent or not, has a framework wherein the guarantee is valid, and if certain terms are broken the guarantee is void. Nothing strange about that. Your general guarantee expectations are reasonable.
Jewellery just doesn't fit into the stock guarantee mould you're used to. Jewellery guarantees are wildly different from the guarantees you’re use to on, say, TVs and amplifiers.
I’m not implying we’re the only honest jewellers in South Africa. Many very respectable local jewellers take pride in their work and build businesses on excellent work and not fake sales and misleading guarantees. This is often an overlooked red flag.
Guarantees: Shoes and Cars Vs. TVs and Amplifiers.
Engagement rings aren’t placed on shelves where they’re operated in very predictable ways like televisions and amplifiers. They live with you. They’re worn daily, in sickness and health, and in both good times and bad.
Guarantee-wise engagement rings should be grouped with cars and expensive leather shoes. They're everyday items that should be used with due caution and care.
Accidents happen and there’s no definitive correlation to the time the products have been in use.
You might need a repair at some stage. Then you want a cooperative jeweller who takes pride in his products and hopes to get the ring back in perfect shape as soon as possible to represent the brand out in the world and ensure you keep referring your friends.
That doesn’t mean all repairs will/should be free, but always at the bare cost to the jeweller. That's our view. If the damage can be fixed in under an hour we also do it on the house.
If you buy a pair of pleather shoes for R300 or spend R40 000 on some custom Stefano Bemers, if you bash the side of the shoe on an angled rough concrete corner - it’s going to scratch. That doesn’t change whether you’ve had the shoes for a week or 7 years.
Cars? Same story. You can drive off the lot and some random granny rams right into your vehicle. The very next day might be rainy, you head out to Emalahleni for business, and a pothole turned out to be larger than you imagined - wrecking a wheel and severely damaging your undercarriage including the exhaust system.
Did the product (shoe or car) malfunction? Highly unlikely. Is the product in need of repair now? Yes, and I sincerely hope you have insurance.
Engagement rings take a few tiny scratches and bumps every day, and now and then a harder, stronger knock. The lady wearing the ring might truly be 100% oblivious to the bumps. Please keep in mind these bashes, scratches and knocks accumulate.
If you hit your thumb with a hammer, you’ll gain some much-needed respect for your thumb. You’ll get a jolt of pain everytime that thumb hits anything. Previously you just took that poor thumb for granted. It has a hard life!
The messy guarantee question: Who caused the damage?
I started off by saying these engagement ring guarantees can’t be in your favour. There's no standard of wear and tear that's reasonable after x amount of weeks, and the ring left the jeweller in perfect shape.
Let me save you a ton of time: for the guarantee to do its magic you'll have to prove there was a manufacturing issue an/or problem.
Unfortunately, jewellers take the convenient stance in guarantee terms that they reserve the right to inspect the damaged ring, and their decision or judgement on causation is final. Proving that damage to your ring was due to a manufacturing fault, when it left the store in perfect shape will be close to impossible.
A couple of paragraphs up you saw that bent prickly pear ring. It was poorly designed and prone to damaging easily but it wasn't necessarily poorly manufactured. You'll also hear that millions of that very ring have been sold and this is (always) the first issue with bending.
The next image is a case of a stunning time-bomb. If worn as an engagement ring daily, those prongs will bend or break within a year or so and massively amplify the chance of dislodging the diamond.
Precious metals aren't indestructible, and if claws/prongs are overly fine they'll bend like a simple paperclip. From experience drawing on thousands of rings we sell per year the minimum claw width for a six claw setting is 0.90mm. The image below? 0.40mm. This severely compromises strength and durability. Sure, finer claws look nicer, but their main purpose is to keep your diamond safe and sound. We don't compromise on quality, and never drop below our minimum dimensions.
For reference, a good old steel paperclip has a diameter of 0,85mm.
We've never had a customer lose a main diamond (that I'm aware of)... after any amount of time. Engagement rings should be able to take some basic wear and tear.
Let’s take a look at the complexities of guarantee issues.
So, you buy your ring from a jeweller, propose to your wonderful (now) fiancee and get the “yes” you were praying and paying for. Two weeks down the line she catches a glimpse of the ring while typing and sees one of the tiny diamonds in the halo has fallen out.
You get a sad or frantic call, and maybe even a string of sincere apologies.
She swears that the ring didn’t even touch a pillow, and you decide to take up this seemingly obvious quality issue with the jeweller. Not us, Jeweller B. *You should have chosen us.
Let’s take a look at the main reasons a small diamond might dislodge...
Was the claw holding the small diamond too thin?
If you selected a price match jeweller, he trimmed down the ring to ensure he stays profitable. There’s no “rule” on how thick claws should be.
So the claw might have bent out of place (accidentally by your fiancee), BUT the over-dainty claw was bound to be bent/broken. It was too thin, but that won’t be the answer you’re served.
Was the diamond poorly set and therefore dislodged after a few hours on her hand?
The diamond is gone now, so checking how well it was set is impossible after the fact.
How hard was the bash/bump?
No one knows. And your girlfriend probably doesn’t either. Or she’s scared to tell you the full story…
The accumulation of 100 tiny (0,0000001 on the Richter scale) bumps with a dash of bad luck can dislodge a small diamond.
In the next image you can see the small diamonds slightly protrude or hang over the width of the metal structure. In stead of the metal taking all impact it's now directly on the diamond, and can cause it to dislodge with a moderate bump. If the diamonds didn't protrude this would be a rather "safe" wedding band setting. We ensure our designs don't overly expose the diamonds to contact.
Let me tell you about our customer; “Suits”.
Sometime in 2016, we had a very feisty 25-year-old lawyer, who binge-watched Suits way too many times, buy a ring from us. He was delighted and promised to even send his grandma this way for a brooch or whatnot.
One month later he rings me up, and this guy is on fire. A small diamond fell out, and his girlfriend swore to Thor she didn’t even pat the dog with the ring on.
He brings in the ring, we take a look and call him over to the microscope. A platinum claw was literally broken off with a bash to a smooth right-angled surface. You could see the deep and smooth indent and then the point of breakage.
He went into such a rage... “She.Lied.To.MEEE!”. We calmed him down, fixed the ring without charge (we replace small diamonds for one year after the invoice date), and asked him to please go soft on the fiancee, and ask her to do the same for her ring.
Apart from “manufacturing issues” you can’t prove, there’s a laundry list of reasons why your guarantee is void according to your jeweller.
◦ “Sale” or promotional items cannot be returned or exchanged and aren't dealt with under normal guarantees. Now with most jewellers running fake sales permanently this probably already disqualifies your ring.
◦ The jeweller reserves the right to revoke or change the details of a guarantee at any stage. So your guarantee terms aren’t guaranteed. Yup.
◦ Custom made products are excluded from any standard warranty and terms and/or conditions.
Hop onto the Complaindom that is Hello Peter and see what the nature of complaints are on jewellers. 90% of complaints are on the quality rail, and the jewellers wouldn’t take responsibility for the damage or be accommodating when it comes to the cost of the repair.
Unfortunately, these jewellers often decide to express their opinion nothing short of rudely. You’ll catch their vibe that they did you a major favour, and you should be deeply thankful for the opportunity to wear their products. Distasteful.
I don't believe the customer is always right, but if you chose us - I'll ensure you don't regret it. You'll be treated beyond fairly, with the same respect you saw during your first visit.
Here’s our (better) approach to issues you'll assume a guarantee has in place.
Here are a few of our straight commitments and promises to you. Unlike other guarantees, these are all positive in your favour and crystalise the fact that we deeply care about our customers and our products.
What if a small diamond falls out of the ring?
Any small diamond (0,01 - 0,02ct) that dislodges from a ring, even due to normal wear and tear, will be replaced free of charge for 1 year from the invoice date. This ensures that your fiancee can settle into her new ring comfortably. If you drove over the ring - we’ll have to remake the ring, but the repair quote will be very reasonable.
*This is unique to Poggenpoel. How can we guarantee this?
Our customers don’t have issues with diamonds falling out. That's it. Occasionally one might dislodge due to a bash or the accumulation of bashes, and there’s no blame shifting in sight. We want your ring in perfect condition, so we fix it.
If the cause of the damage is determined, we’ll give you some advice on how to avoid future issues. That's miles away from finger-pointing.
Free maintenance increases longevity.
Any maintenance on a Poggenpoel engagement ring is free of charge, and you’re encouraged to visit us every 6 months or so for a thorough cleaning, and to ensure all diamonds are still safe and sound. This takes care of accumulated wear and tear risks.
*And as a bonus the cleaning and polishing makes that ring look brand spanking new.
Your satisfaction is 100% guaranteed.
We require a 30% deposit to start manufacturing, and if the ring is finito and you’re not completely satisfied with the quality, we will do whatever we can to kick it up that last 1%. Or pay back your deposit on the spot.
After many years and thousands of diamond rings, we’ve only had three instances I'm aware of where the customer wasn’t satisfied with the final product.
- The first wanted changes on the ring’s design and offered to pay for the remake. There weren’t quality issues.
- The second had a design manufactured that we said won’t turn out as he had in mind. Engineers...
- The third was of the opinion that his R10 000 ring wasn’t “bling enough”. We just refunded this gent, since we executed far beyond reasonable expectations with his budget.
Our BEST price from the get-go.
Although our quotes are close always the best - We don’t price-match.
I promise to give you our absolute best price first time ‘round and not toy around with your hard earned engagement ring budget.
- First of all, why must a jeweller first try to take a massive profit on you, and then drop the price to secure the deal? From all the complaints I’ve read this only makes visitors and customers feel like they've been taken for a ride.
- Secondly, anyone can lower a quote if they can lower the quality and amount of materials needed. You're not buying a stock product like a BMW X5 where the product is exactly the same quality regardless of which BMW dealership you buy from. Jewellery quality varies greatly from one jeweller to the next.
We'll rather lose a deal than sell an inferior shaved down product.
I’m sure you’ve seen how empty mall-based jewellery stores are. How do they keep their doors open? A few times per month someone pays that inflated price.
*Just a quick note on price-matching: Imagine a reputable brand, say, Mercedes, comes out with a price match guarantee that if you find a car with a 3,00L engine for less, they’ll match the price. No decent brand will ever get close to this rubbish.
The Best Diamond Upgrade Policy Around.
There might come a time when you wish to upgrade your diamond. You have a ton of birthdays and anniversaries coming up.
You’ll always receive 100% credit for your initial Poggenpoel diamond purchase, and you only have to pay in the difference for the more expensive diamond.
No minimum upgrade amount or weird terms and conditions.
We’ll cover upgrade guarantees in the next blog, but just as you’ve seen with product guarantees, these upgrade guarantees come with a set of silly and stringent requirements.
One of the worst small script terms we’ve seen on upgrade policies: "The diamond you’re upgrading to has to be at least twice the size of the initial diamond, with colour and clarity at least at the grades of the initial diamond."
So you purchased a 1,00ct K VS1 at say R50 000. You have a baby on the way and would love to spoil your bride with a more significant diamond. A push-present of sorts.
You drive to Jeweller B and BAM! You had it wrong.
The diamond price-size ratio is far from linear.
◦ Initial Diamond: Round 1,00 K VS1 @ R50 000.
◦ Minimum Upgrade Specifications to “Qualify” for the rubbish upgrade plan: 2,00ct K VS1. But, the only have a 2,00ct J, so that will have to do… at R176 000.
After the quote for the setting to be remade to fit the 2,00ct diamond you’re looking at R140 000+ you need to pay in.
How wonderful is that grow your diamond plan, now?
We’ve Got Your Back On Beyond-The 4C Issues.
The basic 4C framework (cut, colour, clarity and carat) does a great job of explaining how the changes in these main specifications affect the appearance and price of a diamond. It’s a basic buyers tool. Nothing more, nothing less. For a quick rundown on the 4C-model head over to: "The Ultimate 1 Page Diamond Guide."
You can have 2 diamonds that seem identical on the 4C model but vary substantially in appearance. Having some knowledgeable eyes on diamond options is probably the most overlooked issue when buying a diamond. I want to sell you the best diamond within your budget or specification range, not merely the cheapest around.
A jeweller who’s out to find the cheapest diamond for you, will overlook critical details and leave you with a very average diamond. Or a diamond that is far from accurately graded.
I've said this 100s of times. Finding cheap diamonds isn't hard. Finding great diamond at excellent prices - that takes work. Work we put in.
The most typical issue is that folks that don't deal with diamonds daily may have a hard time spotting slight milkiness or cloudiness in a diamonds. It's not indicated on the diamond certificate, and you'll have to take the jeweller's word. By far the majority of sales folks in jewellery stores will have no idea what lustre refers to.
If you love the diamond - no big deal. Just keep in mind that you'll have a close to impossible task at hand selling a milky diamond if you ever wish to upgrade to a larger diamond.
The grades of milkiness, formally referred to as "lustre":
• L1: Perfectly crisp and clear with no milkiness whatsoever. (We ONLY stock L1 diamonds)
• L2: Usually OK, and the cloudiness can be very hard to spot for inexperienced eyes.
• M1: You’ll easily see it’s milky if you know what to look for.
• M2: Obviously milky.
• M3: Very milky and cloudy.
The following rings are all set with milky centre stones, and since you know what to look for it's obvious. They're not crisp and clear...
For more information on important beyond the 4C framework these two posts clear it up, explain our process in detail, and are worth reading:
Diamond Special Orders
By just taking shape, colour, cut grade, clarity and fluorescence into account you have over 300 000 possible diamond specification combinations.
I’m not even factoring size into this number since that bumps this into infinity...
Although we keep a broad variety of stock at hand, there’s a chance we don’t have your ideal diamond in stock.
Kobus Poggenpoel, co-founder, who has been in the trade since 1984 spends his days sourcing diamonds, for stock and also special orders. That's what he does.
Every single diamond we buy goes through a rigorous process to ensure it’s top-shelf, the best of its kind and taking into account everything beyond the 4C’s characteristics.
Every morning we receive stock lists from our suppliers. These are massive international diamond cutting factories. Every single one produces more diamonds per month than the whole local industry. It's not strange to see some of these factories adding over 1000 new diamonds to their stock daily.
To see and understand our over-the-top approach "Sourcing Your Perfect Diamond" is a good read.
We compile these spreadsheets into one stock list, and then start our systematic approach to finding the very best buys out of these half a million diamonds.
We close at least one special order per day - give it a shot… you’ll be pleasantly surprised. I can also send you extended references - we haven’t had a single cancellation… ever.
Where to from here?
Even if this blog just made you aware of possible sharks in the water, I have a simple request;
Then, if you wish, you can shop around for the average six months couples take to pick a jeweller. You’ll hear every possible story in the book… good ones, bad ones, all of them.
We’ll see you again.
No one cares more about your ring than we do. That will be crystal clear after your consultation and studio visit.
We always have brilliant designers in our studios (Rosebank and Pretoria) that can discuss certain elements you have in mind. They’re fantastic and knock an 8/10 idea to a 10/10. That’s what they’re here for.
Once you see and feel what we put into our products, you’ll want to be a part of this as much as we want to be part of your story.
I invite you to visit our jewellery studios in Pretoria and Rosebank to see feel and experience top-end diamonds for a variety of budgets.
For questions, quotes and consultation bookings please feel free to reach out on firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via your prefered channel.
Johan Poggenpoel, Co-Founder.
T; 012 111 0525 (Pretoria) | 010 020 6811 (Johannesburg)