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Novus Spiritus - Some Jewelry With a "Quality Issue"
Some Novus Spiritus jewelry contained diamonds which... weren't diamonds.
Novus Spiritus "Eclipse Pendant".
Sylvia Browne sells a line of "Novus Spiritus" jewelry which she advertises on her web site and mailings. The pieces generally feature the three-ring emblem which is the symbol of her church, the Society of Novus Spiritus.
Aside from being available via the web and mailings, these are also sold at many of her personal appearances and lectures, usually on tables in the lobby, alongside her books.
These are not inexpensive trinkets, either. They have run from $50.00 pendants all the way up to a diamond necklace costing $4,990.00.
Why write an article about this?
Because although I am firmly convinced that Sylvia Browne is not what she claims to be, I have only recently discovered that the same can be said of some of the jewelry she has sold to her followers.
On March 17 2007, I received the first of a series of emails from someone who claimed to have been highly-connected within Browne's church at one time.
The email, and subsequent emails from the same source, stated that:
The correspondent was not certain whether Browne and her staff had been aware of the nature of the jewelry prior to the contact by the person with the appraisal. The correspondent was also not sure exactly when this appraisal had happened, but said that it was at least as early as September of 2006, possibly as early as July of that year.
These were obviously very serious charges, and merited further investigation.
Looking through archived versions of the Sylvia Browne site's "Jewelry" page, I noted that some time between February 09 and April 27 of 2006, the links to selling the jewelry were removed, and replaced with the following notice:
Months later, when jewelry was again for sale on the page, only the lower-end "Eclipse" line of jewelry (under $300.00) was being sold. The higher-end "Trinity" and "Signature" lines ($1,440.00 - $4,990.00) do not appear to have been on the site since then.
Looking for more substantial confirmation, I called Michael McClellan at Sylvia Browne Enterprises, and discussed this with him, after telling him who I was, and that I was preparing an article on the subject.
We spoke for a few minutes about what he referred to as the "quality issue" they had with some of their jewelry.
(Diamond jewelry which does not have any diamonds on it, and this is a "quality issue?" Who knows, perhaps this is how Novus' attorneys advised them to refer to it.)
After that phone call, I sent him the following email:
In return, I received the following reply:
The attached letter was a Microsoft Word document, undated, with the logo of ITC International, "signed" by Marc Nehamkin, "the CEO and owner of ITC international, representing the jewelry manufacturer of a portion of The Sylvia Browne/TU Design Collection."
In part, the letter stated:
My reply to Mr. McClellan:
Mr. McClellan's reply:
So, the letter from ITC, and the email from Michael McClellan, say that the problem had been discovered by ITC International, which had subsequently contacted Sylvia Browne Enterprises. This conflicted with the story my correspondent had given me, that it was brought to Browne's attention by someone who had purchased some of the jewelry.
After a few emails back and forth with the correspondent, I sent the following email to Mr. McClellan:
McClellan's version of events differed in many respects from that of the email correspondent who notified me of the story to begin with.
Since the correspondent was not willing to allow me to publish his/her name (for fear of harassment by Browne and her people), I told the correspondent that I would feel more comfortable publishing this story if he/she would send me a notarized document describing the pertinent events as he/she remembered them.
Not long after, I received in the mail an affidavit, signed by the correspondent in the presence of a Notary Public, who then notarized the affidavit.
Here is the text of that affidavit (I have removed identifying information, such as name and address):
There are certainly conflicting stories here.
- McClellan/Novus says that this was all discovered "about four months ago," placing it around November of 2006.
- Multiple email correspondents tell me that Novus staff was aware of this no later than Spring of 2006.
The notice put on the "Custom Jewelry" page of Browne's site, some time between February 09 and April 27 of 2006, tends to lend credence to the earlier time frame.
- McClellan/Novus first said it was the manufacturer who discovered the problem, then said that it was a Novus staff member who discovered it when taking her jewelry in for repair.
- More than one person has told me that they heard otherwise from people high up in the Novus organization. One said that a Novus board member described it as having been brought to light "when an irate lady walked in and demanded an immediate explanation and refund after having had her necklace appraised for insurance purposes."
- McClellan/Novus says that Novus recorded the names and addresses of all people who purchased the jewelry.
- An eyewitness tells me that he/she witnessed cash purchases of the jewelry - at Sylvia appearances - in which no contact information was taken.
- McClellan/Novus says that the only jewelry involved was from the "Eclipse" line, not the more expensive "Trinity" and "Signature" lines.
- More than one person has told me that they heard otherwise from people high up in the Novus organization.
I have reproduced Mr. McClellan's emails in the interest of fairness, so that Sylvia Browne Corp. got their version of events published.
But whenever and however Browne's people learned about this, it would seem that a very public notice to Browne's followers about the whole affair would have been the best way to have treated her followers, some of whom spent a considerable amount of money on jewelry which, to put it mildly, had a "quality issue."
It is important to note that the email accounts I have received which show the less-flattering version of events consist mostly of second- and third-hand accounts.
Yet, the notice of change of manufacturers seems to support their account of the time line, and Mr. McClellan's version of how it all was discovered seems to change, which does not help support the Novus version of events.
Also, there is this, from Mr. McClellan's email of March 21, 2007:
It is now April 21, 2007, one month after Mr. McClellan's statement above.
- The April edition of the "Novus Connection" newsletter went out with no mention of the "quality issue."
- The March/April edition of the "Sylvia Browne Newsletter" went out with no mention of the "quality issue."
But perhaps this was due to deadlines. Perhaps it was too late to get the story in.
I assume there are no such deadline problems with the "Custom Jewelry" page of Browne's web site. Yet as of this writing, it still lacks any notice about the problem.
My conclusion: If I had purchased an item from any line of Browne's Novus Spiritus jewelry, no matter when or where I had purchased it, I would seriously consider having it appraised.
My thanks to my correspondents for their information, and to Michael McClellan for his cooperation.
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