Tuesday, November 29, 2011

AmaraGold review ... and things not to do when coordinating blogger reviews.

*Note: It is not my practice to do negative or lukewarm reviews. If I'm sent something for review and don't love it, I simply won't post. I don't see the use in harming the company's reputation or wasting my reader's time with a "eh" review. There are different types of review policies, trade for product, borrow for review and send back, etc. which is determined BEFORE the terms are agreed upon and product is sent.

I was contacted by a rep for AmaraGold about doing a review in exchange for a "gifted" product, meaning they would send an item of my choice that I would keep in exchange for my thoughts and review.

For starters, here's is the company information: AmaraGold is a new company based in the United States near Boston, which handcrafts eco-friendly jewelry in reclaimed metals. Sounds cool right?

I agreed to consider the review and terms were discussed. At first I was told to pick something from the site for review. I chose one or two things and was told because of the price of these items, they could not be gifted to me but I could certainly review and send back. Hmm. Ok, different from the initial "pick anything you like", but reasonable and I had no problem choosing something in the new range that was determined a few emails in. (I rarely do review and send backs, only because i am paranoid of being responsible for a pricey item if something goes wrong in post. I kindly declined this option stating the reason I just mentioned.)

I will say that the rep I was working with was entirely professional and helpful, and we worked together with no bumps to select something that worked for both myself and the company.

I was able to chose from earrings or rings. I don't wear earrings, so I chose the best option for me, a stackable ring, and asked if they could at least send two so I could fully review. I mean, how do you review stackable rings if you only have one? I was told that this was not possible, and they could send ONE ring, or other item of my choosing within the new range of $200 (which is entirely generous and fair), and I was willing to go forward with the brand.

I chose a ring we agreed upon and it was sent out. The ring I chose was the 14K White Gold Finely Textured Stackable Ring, which retails for $180.00.

Upon receiving the ring, my initial thought out of the package was honesty "wow... that's it?" The ring is rather light and flimsy, and seems welded together in a way that resembles mall kiosk jewelry. I could not see paying $180 for this item. $50, MAYBE, but certainly not almost $200. I tried it on, wore it a few days, and it was unremarkable. Others I showed the ring to also could not believe the price tag for a ring of this quality.

As I was reviewing the ring, hoping for something positive to come to me to post, I received several emails from the rep asking when the review would post. i finally had to respond that the ring had unfortunately not met any of my expectations and therefore, I did not want to do a review and give the brand any negative attention. I will post my exact email below to be completely fair:

One thing that I pride myself on and my readers respect is that I only do honest reviews of things that I love. If something does not meet expectations, I simply do not do a review rather than do a negative one, that's not my style.

That being said, I have to be honest and say that the ring did not meet my expectations. While it's pretty, my personal opinion is that it's a bit flimsy looking and feeling, and nowhere near worth the retail value. I wouldn't be able to recommend that my readers purchase a ring like this at that price point.

However, if you still want a review-- I will do one for you, but I'll have to be honest. Please think about my feedback and let me know.

I received an email back from the rep about a week later:

I'm sorry you feel that way. Those rings are meant to be stacked in multiples, so that's probably why you feel it is thin. The price of gold is incredibly expensive right now. So the value/quality of that right is very high for 14K gold. But it's okay if this does not suit your style. I spoke to the brand and they said it's no problem if you do not want to do the review and would prefer to just send the ring back. It's not an issue. The address for return is below. And I'm sorry this one didn't work for you. Maybe another time.

What an unusual request and really not the way these things are done. In their defense, maybe since they are a new company they don't understand gifted review etiquette?

(Again, I want to stress - in no way was the PR rep rude or unreasonable, nor do I feel it was her intent to force me into a review. She was entirely pleasant and patient through the entire relationship.)

But wait, let's back up...

1. "Those rings are meant to be stacked in multiples, so that's probably why you feel it is thin." - As I said above, I knew this would be an issue and asked them to please send at least one more to fully review.

2. "I spoke to the brand and they said it's no problem if you do not want to do the review and would prefer to just send the ring back. It's not an issue. The address for return is below. " - They want me to SEND BACK the ring, AT MY EXPENSE, because I couldn't post a favorable review.

So, here's my review. Like stated in my email: the ring, while pretty, did not meet any expectations and in my opinion (which is what a review is) is not worth the retail cost. I would not recommend it to friends or readers as a single ring, as I was not able to review them as a stacking unit.

If you're still interested in the brand, which does have some nicer pieces at way higher price points (though I cannot vouch for their quality), feel free to visit AmaraGold.com

Review done. Now we're square and I don't have to visit the post office.