Monday, December 28, 2015

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An Open Letter to Tiffany & Co.

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What's left of my ring.
Before my husband and I were even considering marriage, I’d chosen the ring I hoped to someday wear: a Tiffany yellow diamond. Still, when he proposed, on a chilly October evening in 2012, I was shocked to see my fantasy ring nestled in the little velveteen box he held in his palm. The engagement, the shimmering diamond—it all felt like an illusion, too good to be true.

I felt privileged to wear such a beautiful diamond—and that luster never wore away. As recently as this fall, I told my husband how lucky I felt to have the ring. This was no starter ring. This was my forever ring.

But then, this November, I was volunteering for Operation Christmas Child, the charity that sends shoeboxes of toys to children around the world. My job was simple: create bins of extra toys—coloring books, plastic rings, Beanie Babies—that could be added to any skimpily filled boxes. Halfway through my three-hour shift, I looked down during a group prayer and noticed the center stone of my engagement ring was gone.  

Frantic, I called Frank—who, thankfully, was much calmer than me—and then asked the man who’d prayed to make an announcement. Everyone in the warehouse was asked to carefully check the bins I’d assembled, but my diamond was never found. 

I finished my shift, then sobbed on the hour-long drive home. 

The next day, my husband and I went to the nearest Tiffany, where we were greeted with sympathy and little Tiffany-blue macarons. The store manager acknowledged that the prongs—two of which had completely snapped—looked “weak.” She promised the ring would be thoroughly inspected by the Tiffany master jeweler in New York City, and that we would receive a report by December 9th.

December 9th came and went without a word. When we called the customer support line, we were told we’d receive the report by December 18th, which also came and went. After a day or two, we called again—and were told the cost of a new stone and the repair would be more than the original cost of the ring. This is despite the fact that my ring includes dozens of smaller diamonds, which are still intact, and has a platinum band. 

The reason I lost my diamond, they said, was that my ring had lost its shape just slightly, potentially compromising the setting. In 2013, I’d had the ring reshaped, by Tiffany, but was now told that the company only stands by its repairs for one year. 

When we contested the price, the customer service rep said they’d reevaluate the report. A few days later, we received the same price—but with a new explanation: An impact had caused the diamond to fall out.

In other words, my Tiffany engagement ring—which cost as much as a small car—can’t withstand everyday wear, because I definitely don’t spend my days punching people (or brick walls).

My husband chose Tiffany for quality. But Tiffany doesn’t sell quality. Tiffany sells an illusion built on Audrey Hepburn movies, little blue boxes, and trays of macarons. 

Yes, a diamond is replaceable. As my husband told me, the ring isn’t his love and fidelity—it’s simply a symbol of it. (Thank goodness my marriage doesn't have the lifespan of my ring!) But the ring is the sum of my relationship with Tiffany—and that relationship, I can assure you, is over. 

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