Wednesday, February 4, 2009


Today's post has been prompted by a story one of my colleagues has just shared with me. She's pretty upset and rightfully so.

She won an auction for a Sherman demi on eBay for which she paid $180 USD. The demi was a pretty fuschia colored brooch and earring set. Now, I don't know about you, but for $180 US, I'd be expecting a set in top condition.

Well the set arrived, and to her horror, there was a large, noticeable chip in one of the earrings. Now we're not talking about a "flea-bite" i.e. a chip so small you need a magnifying glass or a loupe to see it. No, this one was big, visible to the naked eye.

Furthermore, the wear to the backs of the earrings was considerable, down to bare metal with verdigris yet. What makes this so bad is not just the fact that she had paid so much for this set but that the seller had described it as in 'MINT' condition! Okay, let's consider what "mint condition" means. To me, it means no signs of wear, as if it's been boxed and unworn since the day it was purchased. Now let's get real here: how often do you come across "mint" vintage jewelry? It's very hard to find. After all, most of these lovely pieces are pre-loved and most likely, often worn. So they simply cannot be "mint".

In my humble opinion, as a seller, the onus is on us to be as honest as we can be. Yes, things can slip by us, but if we're selling Sherman or any other vintage rhinestone jewelry, we need to be looking at the stones through strong loops, testing the stones to see if they are sitting securely in the prongs, looking at each stone for any sign of clouding, milkiness, dulling. All of these detract from the value of the piece and we owe it to our buyers to be honest about the condition of the jewelry we sell.

I have several loyal customers, one of which buys a lot of my Shermans. She recently purchased the wide bracelet shown below:

Now when I received this bracelet from a seller, and I paid a lot for it, I was terribly disappointed in its condition: she had gone on and on about how beautiful it was, how un-marked, how the stones glittered and how little she had worn it. I couldn't wait to see it. As soon as it arrived, I got out my loupe and saw far more wear to the aurora borealis than should have been there if she'd only worn it a few times as she stated. Some of the prongs were loose. We tightened them. It did indeed glitter beautifully despite that and thankfully, there were no cloudy stones. But in my heart I knew I couldn't ask what I would have for a bracelet like this.

So in my description I fully disclosed the details of its condition and hoped someone would want it regardless. I set the price at a very reasonable dollar taking its condition into account. My loyal buyer bought it almost as soon as I listed it. Her reason? She told me one reason she buys so much from me is that she knows my descriptions are honest. I don't say something's "mint" when it's only good. She trusted my assessment on this one completely.

When she finally got it, she wrote to say how ecstatic she was with her purchase and yes, she could see what I'd found fault with, but to her it was still worth what she paid and more. Now that's what a seller wants to hear and what a customer deserves: our honesty and full disclosure of any issues we're aware of so the customer can make an informed decision before buying.

So the message in all this for buyers is this: be aware and beware. Ask questions, especially if you're new to buying Sherman and if you are buying on eBay. There are a lot of honest sellers on eBay and we all know there are the others. So read descriptions carefully. Check the return and refund policies. And don't think that eBay is the only place to get a bargain on Sherman jewelry. Quite honestly, some of the Shermans available from our SHOP AT RUBY LANE and at our Sherman only site at SHERMAN JEWELLERY SHOWCASE (Canadian dollars) are better than you can get on eBay. So shop around! There are lots of good honest sellers out there and when you find one, stick with them. Bookmark their site or their shop. Subscribe to their mailing list so you can be on top of new additions or sales. You can subscribe to our mailing list at Ruby Lane via THIS LINK. (You need to be registered to subscribe).

As for my colleague who prompted this blog, she did manage to get a refund after many heated emails and lots of frustration. The seller accused her of chipping the earring! My colleague asked if she was also responsible for the dirt and wear to the earrings in the short time she'd had them? She had to provide photos to prove her point and get her refund. None of that would have been necessary if the seller had been knowledgeable, caring and above all, honest.

Do you have a horror story to share about something you've purchased? Why not tell us about it in a comment on this post?