Quote Etiquette - help please?
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03-12-2013, 08:46 AM,
#1
Quote Etiquette - help please?
I've never commissioned a custom piece of jewelry ever! I am not really sure what questions to ask or what the etiquette is.

Can anyone give me any tips insofar as how you start the process with a 'bigger' project (i.e. e-ring and band)? How many quotes do you get (though I suspect I know who I will go with)? What questions to as vendors? How do I prepare for 'their' questions? Any advice or tips would be really appreciated.

I have no idea how much the piece(s), in question, will cost. Cost will greatly impact 'when' I would go forward AND how I move forward with my 'project list, in general'. Do jewelers get annoyed if you aren't able to proceed immediately?

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03-12-2013, 09:06 AM,
#2
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
I would just be very specific in what you may be interested in doing. Give the vendor your metal choice, the size of the stone and your ring size. If you think it's something that is going to be very detailed like with engraving and side stones, be upfront about that too. Obviously, you can go over the final details if you decide to go with a particular vendor, but you want to give them as much info about what you're looking for so that way you get an accurate quote. They usually don't have a lot of questions for you with just a quote.

I don't think they get annoyed if you don't start right away. You can always ask if they do layaway or you can make payments. I think it's probably more annoying to them if you start a project and then back out, because that's lost money.

One day, I'll be a crazy old lady weighed down by all my baubles and it will be glorious.
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03-12-2013, 09:29 AM,
#3
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
I try to give a heads up as to when I think I might begin the project if I go with them. For instance, with the piece DK is currently working on for me, I contacted him back in I think late Oct/early Nov. I let him know I didn't need it completed until the first week of May, that I had a few irons in the fire at that time and wasn't really ready to begin (though I did know for sure I was going with him already). I wanted to go ahead and get a semi-quote so I could get an idea of what it would cost. I know metals/stones costs change but I'd at least have a ballpark figure. It was his idea to go ahead and start working on the CADs and waxes far in advance because then we would be able to move at a far more luxurious pace *and* he wanted to be able to stand by the quote he gave me, as opposed to possibly having to raise it significantly a few mos down the line. I felt that was really, really kind of him and not something he needed to do at all.

I've asked multiple vendors for quotes on pieces, including Leon, Victor, Steven Kirsch, IDJ, Old World Diamonds, Single Stone, Schubach's, Wink, and a couple others - man, I get around Blush Not one of them has ever pressured me to lock myself into them, nor made me feel "less than" for not using diamonds. They've all been kind and I've found if you don't quite know what to ask, they will generally respond with what they need to know in order to help you proceed. Sometimes you get "The Man/Woman", sometimes you get an assistant/Style Advisor like Beth or Melissa.

I usually try to send photos of what I am wanting to reproduce or commission, to the best of my ability. Give what size needed, what metals I am considering (and I often ask for 14 and 18 K white gold, as well as platinum, and sometimes rose gold), the color/clarity of side stones to be used, how long their quotes are good for, how long a piece takes them to commission, how amenable they are to someone who is super picky like me - I prefer to let them know up front that I am a worry wart and that while I will try my best not to be all up in their business, I do like to communicate a lot and tend to get wordy in my emails (you don't say! Confused ) If that's not their style or they won't work well that way, then we know that ahead of time and can cross each other off the list, or change things up if needed. Hasn't come up yet, and even Leon has been kind to me thus far.

As Jenn said, I also ask about their payment policies, because everyone is different. Some want 50% down to begin and then final payment upon completion & approval of the final *design* but before they begin the actual work. Others will do layaway, others will do certain types of payment plans, others like DK don't make you pay a single dime until you've approved of the completed piece. They're all different but I've found yet again that they're all so far very nice and generous in working with you to the best of their business abilities.

It's a lot of fun, so just get out there and start making contacts! I have a whole email folder for Customs/Jewelry and save everything there to make it easier to locate something months later. It's not nearly as daunting a task as you'd imagine, and the dreaming and planning are enjoyable! Good luck Smile

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03-12-2013, 10:31 AM,
#4
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
From the vendor side of it...

quotes are valid for 30 days. So if you are not likely to start the project for 30 or more, ask for more of a ballpark. Quotes are a lot of work that require an accurate melee count and setting charges per pave stone, etc. And, from my experience, designs change multiple times before you settle on a "winner", so the "final" design will have to be re-quoted anyway. So yeah, we may be off by a few hundred dollars, but nothing crazy, and 6 months later, the price will probably change anyway.

We need your pics, laid out clearly. But we do NOT need every design idea you ever had. Pics speak louder than words, and words are confusing. The specific details can be worked on the phone when the project is actually started, and will be done through CADs.

We need your metal choice, and finger size, and we need the center size. We need to know if we are sourcing the center for you or not, if no, there is likely a setting fee for the stone. And we need your budget. Vendors have multiple bench options, and sometimes a ring may not be doable in your budget, but we can maybe alter it to get it where it needs to be, but look pretty much the same. If you want it hand forged, we need to know that too. Smile

Joseph Schubach Jewelers
please email jenniferc@schubach.com for quotes and inquiries
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03-12-2013, 11:58 AM,
#5
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
Wow - some great advice! Thank you so much for the detailed responses!

MrsK - can it really be that simple? I'm overthinking maybe. lol Glad you mentioned 'payments' and 'layaway'.

Lucky B- Have you worked with all these vendors? Do you have favourites that you recommend? That is a good idea to mention communication style. Also, I think we're 'detail-oriented' not 'wordy'. lol. Thank you for the details.

Jenncent-I appreciate hearing from the vendor's perspective. I didn't consider that there were several benches which could effect pricing. My issue is not necessarily budget - if I like something enough, I'll save for it. I need to think about that, I suppose. Also, I'm glad to hear that some details can be worked out during the CAD process. What is the benefit of handforged....a lot more expensive? Would the ring I'm considering (the SK pave) require handforging?[/quote]

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03-12-2013, 01:07 PM,
#6
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
Some people have a 2k budget and want X ring. It may be possible or it may not. We might feel that bench ABC will make it the best, but it is then $3500... so we would then either modify the design to be in budget, or show examples of DEFs work, so they can see how the bench used will change the final product. Master gold smiths cost a lot. It is a skill, not only an art, and a dying skill at that. So it costs a lot. Like hand forging. Hand forging is almost a paradox. When done well, you can see it is done by hand, but it is very precise. Hand forging done wrong looks like a sloppy mess. The filigree in MissKKs new ring, for example, is wonderful. You can see the hand forged qualities, yet it is still very precise and clean. A cast version would look like a metal stamp out. Would it look as good?? It totally depends on what you like. We just made this ring with a fleur under gallery. It is clearly cast. Some people are not interested or cannot really see the difference.





Handing forging is stronger, but is cast likely to fall apart on you?? No. Unless you have a major porosity issue.

On the ring you want, I think a cast shank is fine, but you would want the head to be all done by hand, and the pave all by hand. And that is likely how SK made it too. Smile He may have hand made the shank as well, I do not know, I cannot say for certain. But most of the work on that ring was done by hand, and the cost will reflect that.

Joseph Schubach Jewelers
please email jenniferc@schubach.com for quotes and inquiries
Visit this user's website
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03-12-2013, 01:22 PM,
#7
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
Nope, I haven't worked with most of them ... yet Wink I've done small transactions with a couple. But I have contacted them back when I was more actively searching for who would best meet my needs for certain pieces that were in my line up at the time - then DH & I decided to go to Fiji instead! So everything except one thing got pushed off until after that is over!

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03-12-2013, 01:33 PM,
#8
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
(03-12-2013, 01:22 PM)lucky.b Wrote: Nope, I haven't worked with most of them ... yet Wink I've done small transactions with a couple. But I have contacted them back when I was more actively searching for who would best meet my needs for certain pieces that were in my line up at the time - then DH & I decided to go to Fiji instead! So everything except one thing got pushed off until after that is over!

Fiji is certainly a worthy priority!

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03-12-2013, 01:34 PM,
#9
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
(03-12-2013, 01:07 PM)jenncent Wrote: Handing forging is stronger, but is cast likely to fall apart on you?? No. Unless you have a major porosity issue.

On the ring you want, I think a cast shank is fine, but you would want the head to be all done by hand, and the pave all by hand. And that is likely how SK made it too. Smile He may have hand made the shank as well, I do not know, I cannot say for certain. But most of the work on that ring was done by hand, and the cost will reflect that.

This helps a lot! MissKK's ring is gorgeous, too!

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10-17-2013, 05:01 PM,
#10
RE: Quote Etiquette - help please?
I didn't want to start a new thread on this because this is probably going to be a recurring subject so I thought I go ahead and piggyback off of this one since we all like to do custom projects and every now and then worry about etiquette.

I was wondering...is it common to be talking to a vendor for a while about a project, and then end up not moving forward and go with another? Or is that normal for customers to talk to several vendors like that...and then when they don't win the bid... they don't take it personally? I've been talking to this vendor for a while about a project, and I found another stone elsewhere, and I feel really bad about potentially ending the conversation because they have been so responsive and helpful so far. I would like to work with them one day in the future if I don't end up working with them now...so I don't want to offend or hurt them. I know this is how they make their living and I don't want them to dread talking to me again the next time and think I might have waste their time.

I'm in sales too and sometimes I just do not like it all when that happens to me, it depends upon when they decide to back out of the deal and how they handle it and why. I don't like it when they go somewhere else before they've given me the opportunity to match or beat an offer of a competitor, and I especially do not like it when they disappear on me. I'm cool with it if I know that I was beaten by a competitor legitimately and that there isn't anything more I can do and when they've given me a fair opportunity to earn their business. But sometimes I can't help but feel like crap if I put a lot of time and work into a deal and then they back out, no matter the way they handle backing out of the deal with me. Honestly, I don't lose deals often, so I sometimes I can take it pretty hard when I do.

Since I know how it feels, I don't want to hurt the feelings of this vendor.

Just want to get a sense for if jewelry vendors are used to it and they won't take it personally? If this happens all the time, I think they might have think skin about it. Just wondering how you gals go about putting bids out there and how you break the news about who you go with, especially if you have had an extended and detailed correspondence? Any board vendors please chime in too.

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