We’ve had something on our minds for several weeks now, mulling what to do.
With the advice of our two best friends, who are both talented and smart journalists, we have finally decided what course to take: We have a check in the mail to HSN vendor Jay King. In fact, it has already arrived.
In July, we wrote a blog critical of a Today’s Special from rock god King, one of our favorite HSN vendors. It pained us to write it, because we love both his jewelry and his passion for his work. And he’s a rock hound to the Nth degree, beyond even us.
We won’t rehash all the bloody details of the blog, which was about a five-stone cuff that came in four types of stones. The link to the blog is here, and in a nutshell we complained that the silver on the cuff was flimsy. Other HSN customers beefed that when they received their bracelets and opened the box, stones had come out of the cuff. Others said when they wore the cuff, stones fell out.
We had ordered King’s cuff in varascite, a green stone that matched a gorgeous Carico Lake turquoise and citrine pendant we bought when we were in Arizona in June.
We sent King’s cuff back to HSN, and a few weeks after posting that blog, we got a package from a woman who works for Jay that we’ve corresponded with in the past. We couldn’t remember that woman’s name at the time, but it is Stacie Chavez.
The box contained a note and a beautiful three-stone sterling bracelet with three pieces of Carico Lake turquoise, which is a stunning pistachio green.
We can’t find the note now (we think we tossed it when we cleared about three inches of papers off our desk).
The missive didn’t go into details, but it acknowledged there had been problems with the HSN TS cuff — for a variety of reasons — and that the issues that arose with the bracelet wouldn’t happen again. The bracelet that King’s folks sent us had Carico Lake turquoise from that apparently came from his personal collection.
It was a replacement for the TS cuff we had returned, a bracelet to match our pendant.
So what to do? We were touched and astounded that King and/or his company went to the trouble to make us this cuff with those beautiful Carico Lakes nuggets. It is our favorite kind of turquoise.
But as bloggers with a journalism background, we knew that accepting such a gift raises ethical issues, a potential conflict of interest — or the appearance of a conflict of interest, no matter how good the intention.
New York Post TV critic Linda Stasi, one of our favorite writers, faced the same dilemma in July after she panned Kris Jenner’s new daytime talk show. Shortly after the review was published, Kardashian sent Stasi a dozen fancy Magnolia cupcakes and a $325 sterling silver Tiffany pen.
A none-too-subtle Kardashian wrote Stasi a note. She told Stasi that she could use that pen to write a more positive review of her TV show the next time. Stasi called the sweets and the pen “a bribe.”
So a cynic would say that King — or his company — was trying to “bribe” us with that Carico Lake cuff, too. Would we think twice about writing a negative review of a piece of King jewelry if we kept that cuff?
Others would see King’s gesture as a genuine mea culpa, and a pretty grand one at that.
Still others would view the gift of the Carico Lake cuff as a combination of all of the above.
We didn’t know what to do until we asked our two BFFs who work/worked at major New York City newspapers for their two cents. They suggested a compromise.
It came down to this: We have sent King’s company a check for $90, the cost of the HSN TS cuff, to pay for the special one made for us. If King or his company don’t cash that check, we will send the Carico Lake cuff back to him.
We are being transparent about this, so all our readers know what we did and why.
A couple of days ago, Chavez emailed us to say she had received our note and check, and that she would be responding.
She never did, but we can tell you that the cuff will be back in the mail if our $90 check isn’t cashed soon. Head to the bank, Stacie!