[dropcap cap=T]Tim Clarke had sold a lot of engagement rings in his 20 years at Greentree Jewelers - enough to know when a deal felt right - and more importantly (in his view), to know when a couple felt "right." Tim built relationships with his clients, and over the years, he'd made a personal game of guessing which couples he'd see around their first anniversary - and even their fifth and tenth. Some people, Tim believed, were just meant to be together. That's how he felt about Sean and Amanda. He had a great feeling about the pair the first time they came into the store in search of a 2-carat solitaire engagement ring. It took several subsequent visits before they found a diamond that met with Sean's satisfaction and a mounting that suited Amanda's "contemporary classic" style, and with each visit, Tim learned more about their storybook romance. He learned that the mechanical engineer met his veterinarian bride-to-be when he brought his shoe-consuming golden retriever puppy into the local emergency clinic where she'd begun working three years before.He learned that Sean's family was not terribly crazy about an engagement at this point in both of their young careers, but that Amanda had succeeded in winning their hearts. By the time the couple made a final decision about their ring, Tim was convinced that both the sale - and the marriage - would stick.[/dropcap]

On their fourth visit to the store, Sean and Amanda settled on a 2.06-carat ideal-cut round diamond to be set into a platinum solitaire mounting made by a prominent designer. The diamond's F color and VS1 clarity met Sean's need for "a perfect look," while the wider, dual-finish ring was perfect for Amanda's understated style. After some discussion with a number of processing agents, Tim was able to get the sale through on Sean's American Express card, and the finished ring was scheduled to be ready for pickup within a week. The couple left deliriously happy and Tim was elated.

The next day, Tim was surprised to see Sean back in the store, alone. Sean told Tim that his father was adamant in his opposition to his taking on so major a debt at this stage of his career and life, and that he needed to cancel the order and have his American Express credited for the cost of the diamond. Tim did his best to gently remind Sean that the decision was his and Amanda's alone, but Sean was firm in his commitment to honor his father's wishes. Tim was also taken aback by Sean's next request. He asked that Tim sell him the mounting that he and Amanda chose, but to set a CZ in it instead of the diamond. He also asked that Tim not tell Amanda that the change had been made when they came in to pick up the ring later that week. Sean was certain that she would not know the difference, and he did not want her to be disappointed with his inability to stand up to his father.

As Tim went into the office to talk with the owner of Greentree, he wondered what they would do. More, he wondered how he could have been so wrong - about the sale and about Sean and Amanda, and about their prospects for the future.

[h3][b]The BIG questions:[/h3]  What should the owner of Greentree do? Does the store have a responsibility to tell Amanda about the stone in her ring? Are there potential legal implications for the store if Tim keeps Sean's secret at the point of delivery? Does Tim's professional obligation to his client demand that he respect Sean's confidence? [/b]

Editor’s note: Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories, but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved. The characters should not be confused with real people.

[span class=alert]To be eligible for publication in INSTORE, responses must include your name, store name, and the city and state in which your store is located. [/span]

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