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Readers Sound Off Regarding the Case of the Semi-Mount Screwup

A vendor’s mistake and lack of communication threaten to derail a client’s carefully choreographed proposal.




ALEX THOMPSON WAS a young man who found himself at a crossroads of emotion and commitment. He and his college sweetheart, Emma, had been together for five years. Emma was more than just a partner; she was a steadfast ally. She had been a pillar of strength throughout their college years while Alex navigated his studies and took care of his mother through a devastating illness. Through the years, Emma had created a special relationship with Alex’s mom born out of shared moments of vulnerability, care and genuine understanding. It was a bond forged in the crucible of life’s challenges.


Real Deal is a fictional scenario designed to read like real-life business events. The businesses and people mentioned in this story should not be confused with actual jewelry businesses and people.


Megan Crabtree is the founder and CEO of Crabtree Consulting. Before founding Crabtree Consulting, Megan had a successful professional career in the jewelry industry, which culminated with high-level positions at several of the top firms in the retail and manufacturing sectors. Reach her at or visit us at where you can set up a live chat or a 30-minute free consultation.


Alex, aware of the fragility of time, decided he was ready to propose. And he planned to pop the question in front of both of their families, a reunion orchestrated by a journey back to his hometown. The fact that his mother was still grappling with a persistent illness added a layer of depth to the significance of the proposal. The timing was poignant; Alex wished for his ailing mother to witness this milestone and share in the joy of a new chapter in their lives.

He made plans to transform the backyard of his mother’s home with enough lights to illuminate the space and dozens of Emma’s favorite pink roses. This carefully curated ambiance would serve as the backdrop for a proposal that would unfold before both of their families. The moment would be a culmination of five years of shared dreams and growth, a testament to the resilience of love and the power it holds to bind two people together, even in the face of adversity.


Although Alex had meticulously crafted his proposal plan, a crucial piece was still missing: the perfect engagement ring. He soon found himself in the showroom of Smith & Co. Jewelers. Walking into the store, Alex’s excitement was tangible. He was greeted by the store’s associate, Andrew. Alex shared his unique situation and emphasized the four-week time constraint he would need to work around. After careful deliberation, Alex, guided by Andrew’s expertise, settled on a semi-mount that spoke to what he envisioned for Emma’s ring. He then chose a diamond, selected for its brilliance and clarity, which would become the centerpiece.

Recognizing the time-sensitivity of Alex’s proposal plan, Andrew took proactive measures. Prior to finalizing the purchase and securing a deposit for the semi-mount, he reached out to the vendor to ensure an expedited order was possible. The vendor provided reassurance, committing to deliver the semi-mount just two days before Alex’s scheduled departure. This timeline allowed ample room for the jeweler to set the diamond. Andrew immediately scheduled the jeweler accordingly, preparing to promptly set the diamond upon its arrival.

Weeks passed, and as the momentous day approached, the retailer received a reassuring call from the vendor — the order was on track. However, destiny had a different plan. On the day of the expected arrival, anticipation turned to dismay as the ring failed to make its appearance. Panicked, Andrew contacted the vendor, only to be met with an apology and the shocking revelation that the ring had porosity issues in its casting. Andrew was filled with frustration and disappointment. Not only had the vendor failed to inform them of the delay, but the flaw in the casting seemed to have been discovered on the very day it was supposed to be in their hands. How could this have happened!?

Andrew knew he had to act swiftly and with utmost care. Understanding the importance of the moment in Alex’s life, Andrew decided on transparency. Armed with few solutions, he scheduled a private meeting with Alex where he shared the unfortunate news. Alex grappled with a sense of helplessness. The unexpected delay threatened to disrupt the meticulously planned moment he had envisioned for Emma and their families.

The Big Questions

  • How would you, as a jewelry retailer, handle this dilemma?
  • What measures can be put in place with vendors to ensure transparency and timely communication with the client?
  • In situations where the timing of a proposal holds significant emotional weight, what measures can retailers take to ensure they meet the client’s expectations, especially when facing unforeseen obstacles like production delays?


Peter L.
Ithaca, NY

The jeweler’s first responsibility is to inform the client of the situation and have several options to offer and be open to client suggestions. Then execute the new plan and cover any and all added expense. You could be ready to offer discounts, but money alone won’t fix this. This disaster needs to be made right and have the client rave about your extra service. This might include shipping a secondary ring choice overnight to “the moment” location if an in-stock semi-mount won’t do. I’d offer to set the diamond into any semi-mount in stock so he has something to present at “the moment,” then include the gift of a custom designed ring that he and she can design together after “the moment.” This can be made to look like the plan all along if the client wishes. I would take back the temporary setting at full price as well as any setting costs. The bottom line is you should do ANYTHING to win the day. A young quality lifetime client is in the balance.

Jo G.
Oconomowoc, WI

I never would have gotten myself in this hole in the first place. I only promise what I can deliver (i.e., what is entirely in my control). Two-day lead time?! Seriously? It was bound to fail, and that did not include the inevitable failure of UPS or FedEx. I also don’t believe this scenario. Thirty years of nervous men, and never once has one said, “I have planned the perfect proposal, now I need a ring.” I ask all my men how they will propose and one out of a hundred has an idea. I would give a loaner out of the store for the proposal and deliver when the ring comes in. The detail will just be part of the story. “How was your engagement?” “Fine.” Boring story. “How was your engagement?” “Holy cats, let me tell you … but they pulled it out of a nosedive, and we got engaged!” Way better story.

Bruce A.
Sherwood Park, AB

Smith & Co. Jewelers should work with Alex to temporarily use one of their beautiful engagement rings as a “fill-in” for this special day. While the solution is not perfect, his steadfast ally Emma will always have the moment to share with Alex’s mother, knowing her illness leaves little opportunity for great memories with her. The issue with the supplier is totally separate, and while it will ultimately need to be settled, the important story is the one that is unfolding with Alex, his mom and his soon-to-be wife, Emma. Operas have been written with less!

Stacey H.
Lincolnwood, IL

Anything with that kind of time-sensitive deadline should have been ordered with a deadline date a week or more before the actual due date to prevent this. I would offer a substitute and a sincere apology. I would drop the careless vendor.

Jack L.
Lake Forest, CA

First, under such specific circumstances, we would never order a ring with only a two-day window before delivery. So many possibilities: weather, jeweler sick, vendor unable to deliver (oh yeah). Second, faced with this situation, and knowing Andrew has the center stone and has the setter lined up, we would offer to set the diamond in a setting we had on hand and then switch it out to the desired setting after the event. We would also offer the client a generous allowance of some kind to help offset his disappointment.

Daniel U.
Hamilton, ON

Leave the custom pieces to those who have hired proper staff. This way, depending on so many outside people parameters, always leaves you with messes.

Dawn S.
Tucson, AZ

Do it yourself! Learn how to do custom design or have a backup on the ready. That’s why I never rely upon someone else. It’s not that difficult after you understand the process. Stick me on an island alone with a candle, and I’ll have it done (some tools would help also). Anything can be made now in minutes to hours with new technology. It’s but one poor mouse who has only one hole to run to from a cat.

Tracy W.
Sierra Madre, CA

I would pull in every favor I could — any other casting facilities who might expedite this ring. Our goldsmith would work 24/7 if need be, and if the ring needed to be shipped to make the time frame, we’d do it at no charge — ParcelPro is very dependable. And then I’d ask him if we could post his story on Instagram!

Trisha C.
Osterville, MA

A jeweler’s nightmare!! Kudos to Andrew for complete transparency to the client. The vendor handling of the situation is simply deplorable. He was made aware of the time restraints and urgency of the request. He failed to properly communicate with Andrew and simply dropped the ball, which in my opinion is poor business. Unfortunately, the jeweler’s reputation is taking a major hit. I give Andrew credit for being transparent; too bad Andrew’s vendor wasn’t that honest.

Mark S.
Plantation, FL

The vendor’s first mistake was waiting until the last minute to have it ready. There should have been a phone call to the store to let them know it wasn’t going to make it on time. We’ve given our clients an alternative if they can’t choose a setting. We can mount up the stone they chose, and they can make the proposal with that stone in a solitaire. After she says “yes,” bring her and the solitaire in and choose the setting of her dreams. We then credit back the solitaire, and everyone is very happy. We don’t miss the date, and he doesn’t pick out the wrong setting.

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This Third-Generation Jeweler Was Ready for Retirement. He Called Wilkerson

Retirement is never easy, especially when it means the end to a business that was founded in 1884. But for Laura and Sam Sipe, it was time to put their own needs first. They decided to close J.C. Sipe Jewelers, one of Indianapolis’ most trusted names in fine jewelry, and call Wilkerson. “Laura and I decided the conditions were right,” says Sam. Wilkerson handled every detail in their going-out-of-business sale, from marketing to manning the sales floor. “The main goal was to sell our existing inventory that’s all paid for and turn that into cash for our retirement,” says Sam. “It’s been very, very productive.” Would they recommend Wilkerson to other jewelers who want to enjoy their golden years? Absolutely! “Call Wilkerson,” says Laura. “They can help you achieve your goals so you’ll be able to move into retirement comfortably.”

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