Ring bombs — bath bombs that dissolve to reveal hidden jewelry — are popping up all over Facebook and Instagram in promoted posts and video ads. Which ones are worth your money? Find out by following along as I try out and review ring bombs from all over the Internet! Find all Ring Bomb Bonanza posts here.
If your demographic profile looks anything like mine, you probably see a million Facebook and Instagram ads for bath and body products, including those bath bombs that have a ring inside.
About a year ago, I finally caved and signed up for Fragrant Jewels’ Inner Circle , a monthly subscription service that delivers ring bombs and candles. Read on for my full review of Fragrant Jewels and its Inner Circle program. Full disclosure: The more I wrote about how FJ works, the more complex things got. Click here to skip to the bottom for the condensed version.
The Bath Bombs
First and most important: For the most part, I have only good things to say about Fragrant Jewels bath bombs. They’re nicely fragranced (I haven’t received a single scent yet that I didn’t like), are plenty effervescent, aren’t oversaturated with tub-staining dye, and sometimes incorporate the multicolored/color-changing effects that you find in some Lush bombs.
In other words, they’re exactly what you want from a bath bomb even before they dissolve down to the little ball that pops out with a ring inside.
In almost a year, I’ve had only one disappointing experience with a FJ bomb. The other night, I dropped the new Oahu bath bomb into my tub and it fizzed into oblivion almost instantaneously. I don’t think the pineapple mold really left much room for bath bomb material around the outside of the ring capsule, especially since at 5.5 oz., it’s one of the smaller bombs on offer. My bath tub must be Nicolas Cage because that sucker was gone in 60 seconds.
(Yes, I cracked myself up thinking about that line. I’ve been entertaining myself with it for days.)
That’s by far the exception, however; the other FJ bombs I’ve used have had a little more staying power in addition to their fragrance and moisturizing properties.
The candles were actually what convinced me to try Fragrant Jewels in the first place. When I signed up, we were living in an apartment that had a really inadequate tub, so I wasn’t taking a lot of baths. I was constantly burning a candle in our guest/kids’ bathroom, though, and since I had to keep buying candles anyway, I figured I’d at least like to buy candles that had a little something extra for me.
FJ candles are really great. They burn long and clean, they’re nicely fragranced, and the jars they come in are often nice enough to clean out and keep after the candle is gone. So far I’ve only been disappointed by one fragrance (the vanilla-scented candle from the Peaches & Cream set is just not my thing, and it is SO smelly).
My only complaint about the candles is that the rings can be a little tricky to fish out. I’m sure it’s not easy to figure out the perfect way to pour hot wax and get a little packet of jewelry to stay in just the right spot, but I’ve found that the glue that’s used to secure the ring packaging to the side of the jar can be a little overzealous. I’ve gotten a fair amount of hot wax on my fingers trying to detach ring packets from FJ candle jars.
Here’s the thing about my FJ rings: I get compliments on them all. the. time. And I’m not exaggerating. I would say at this point I wear a FJ ring about every other day, and at least once a week someone says something about one of them. I haven’t counted, but I would say I’ve got close to two dozen of their rings by now, and I have yet to lose a stone out of any of them. Some of them are nicer than others (I have a couple that have large single crystals, and the stones on those just seem to be set crooked), but for the most part, they look more expensive than they are — nice detail, good quality crystals that actually sparkle, metal that doesn’t leave a green shadow on your finger.
When the whole “prize candle” craze first started a few years ago, I spent a lot of time reading Facebook comment threads on posts from the various companies. (This is my favorite way to shop on social media, by the way. The DRAMA in these threads, guys.) One of the big complaints people seemed to have was that they got rings that were too large or too small for them to wear. A whole universe of ring-trading Facebook groups popped up.
That was what kept me from ever trying one of those mystery ring candles; I have to pay for the candle, burn it to get the ring, and then probably have to trade it on a Facebook group to a stranger who may or may not actually ever put their end of the swap in the mail? No, thanks. I’d rather just buy a candle and buy a ring and save myself the trouble. FJ and other ring bomb companies have removed this hurdle by selling their products by the size — so I know every shipment that comes to me from Fragrant Jewels will contain size 7 rings. And every ring I’ve received has been true to size, something I can’t say for every ring bomb out there. (I’m looking at you, Pearl Bath Bombs. Three size 8 rings and not one of them a millimeter larger than a 7? I’m just glad I sized up.)
For as long as prize candles and ring bombs have been around, it seems the companies that make them have needed an extra hook on top of “here’s a nice candle and BONUS there’s costume jewelry inside.” That gimmick, which FJ also employs, is the lure of the elusive mega-prize ring.
Like other prize candle makers, FJ includes a slip of paper with each ring, printed with an alphanumeric code. You pop the code into a tool on their website and it “appraises” your ring (every single one of mine has been valued at $25, which has seemed more true on some occasions than on others). The draw is that you could be the lucky winner who scores a ring worth up to $10,000.
I am laboring under no delusions that I’m going to win a five-figure diamond ring from my bath bomb subscription. HOWEVER. I do enter the codes for the products I use because I get an extra 25 FJ rewards points every time I enter a code. I’m not sure what I’m saving them for, but I’ve got like 1,300 of them at this point, so I’m starting to feel like a hoarder. I can’t be alone, though; all the prizes priced at 2,000-10,000 points in the Rewards Boutique are labeled as “out of stock” even though they’re supposed to be custom made; I assume this means they got overwhelmed by demand. Along with the website (see below), this gives me the sense that maybe FJ has grown more quickly than its owners expected.
The Inner Circle
OK, here’s where the bloom comes off the rose a little bit, if I may butcher a metaphor. I joined FJ as an Inner Circle member, meaning for $32.95 a month, they send me “the most-wanted Gift Sets each month, even if they’re sold out for everyone else.” Sounds nice and straighforward, right?
For one thing, they aren’t always what you would expect the “most-wanted” products to be. Last year, FJ rolled out, with much fanfare, a Hello Kitty collection. I didn’t order it because I assumed something that was so heavily promoted would be included in my Inner Circle membership, but Hello Kitty never materialized. Looking at the prices, the Hello Kitty products are more expensive than other FJ gift sets ($42.95 for a candle and bath bomb or set of three bath bombs), so I’m sure that’s why they didn’t send it out to Inner Circle members… but at the same time, as someone who is spending money with the company reliably, month after month, I feel like this is one of those times when, as a business owner, you should consider whether it isn’t good customer relations to make sure your most loyal customers get your most exciting products. (The Hello Kitty products and a Barbie collection also aren’t discounted to Inner Circle members, which seems like another missed opportunity.)
For another, FJ’s website is buggy and difficult to use. Not only can you not change your shipping address manually, you can’t even view it to make sure your information is correct — an issue that cost me nearly $100 in lost shipments. When I moved near the end of last year, I assumed I’d changed my address because my December shipment showed up at my new house. It wasn’t until months later, when I realized I hadn’t seen a shipment since, that I realized I had no way to find out where my packages were being sent. It took a phone call to FedEx to figure out that my Inner Circle shipments were going to my old address (where a phone call to the property manager left me reasonably certain the new residents were keeping my packages for themselves, so if I ever happen to meet the current inhabitants of apartment 407, we are going to have some THINGS TO TALK ABOUT), and then an email exchange to FJ to get my address updated. I was livid about the situation, and to their credit, FJ did reship two of the shipments that had been sent to the old address. But it could have been avoided completely if I’d been able to manage my account from the website.
To be completely honest, even though I’ve belonged for a year, I still find the Inner Circle benefits a little bit confusing. I know I’ve seen them listed on a postcard included with a shipment, but if there’s a place on the website where the benefits are clearly enumerated (like they are for the Rewards Program, which I think is open to everyone whether or not you’re in the Inner Circle?), I can’t find it. Clicking the “Explore” option on the Inner Circle menu gets you to this sales landing page, which eventually lists benefits including an exclusive customer service line, double rewards points, and “dibs” on “top sellers” (with no specific language about what exactly that means).
There is an “exclusive” Inner Circle store, but it largely seems to contain items that are also available for sale elsewhere on the website. In the general FJ store, you have to click on individual items to see whether the listed price is for Inner Circle members; some items, like this Pink Champagne gift set, are one price for Inner Circle members and another for the general public (generally the difference seems to be $7), while others, like this Scandalous candle, appears to cost the same whether or not you’re in the Inner Circle.
To be totally honest, I didn’t think too much about my Inner Circle membership and what I was supposed to be getting out of it until I sat down to research this post. Now I’m not sure if there are additional perks that I haven’t been taking advantage of.
Part of the problem is that FJ sends so many marketing emails that I almost never open them anymore. We’re talking at least daily, and more often than not twice daily emails. Take a look at the backlog in my inbox and tell me: Can you tell which of these are worth opening and which are just noise?
The two on May 28, for example, used nearly identical templates, so I basically got the same email twice (in a series of no fewer than six different emails promoting and/or teasing FJ’s Memorial Day sale). While writing this post, I went through all the emails pictured in this screen grab, and while it’s hard to tell which of them were sent only to Inner Circle members and which went to everyone in FJ’s customer database, out of this list of messages, I found four that included what seemed to be extra Inner Circle benefits:
- Two with double-points offers
- One promising two hours of early access to a sale
- One promoting a sale only for Inner Circle members and notification about the Inner Circle hotline
After spending a few hours (seriously) poking around FJ’s website and reviewing marketing emails, I’m still not 100% sure if I’m aware of or using all my Inner Circle benefits, or why there’s seemingly no discount on some products.
The Bottom Line
After the time I put into writing this Fragrant Jewels review, I’m in the unusual position of being more confused by the business than I was when I started. But here’s the TL;DR for this War and Peace of a blog post:
- Fragrant Jewels’ bath bombs and candles are, with a couple of rare exceptions, really great quality products that I enjoy using. I look forward to my shipment every month, now that we’ve sorted out a delivery issue and I’m actually getting my shipments every month.
- The rings are very pretty and mostly better quality than you’d expect for something that came out of a toiletry.
- The Inner Circle membership is probably a good deal it if you set it, forget it, and don’t think too much about it (and don’t ever need to change your address), although the benefits are a bit opaque and I’m not convinced you’re actually getting the “most-wanted” items.
- FragrantJewels.com could stand a major overhaul to make the website more user-friendly and better organized, along with copy that better clarifies the various membership/rewards programs and their benefits. (For real, FJ, I do this for a living and I’d love to help you out. Call me maybe.)