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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Two days ago a young couple came into my store with a set of two bands they had bought at a local gallery/shop as an engagement ring set for her that they wanted sized. One of them held a large, extremely low quality rose cut diamond (this is an old style of cutting in which the bottom is flat and facets are cut in a dome like shape on the top---but while the cutting style was old, these were modern cuts) in a low bezel setting that was attached to a very thin plain, hammered band (too thin, in my opinion, for a stone of that size). The stone was so heavily included that it was not transparent at all. The current "rage" in "designer" jewelry is to use rough diamond crystals or similar odd cuts of low quality diamonds. It keeps the designer's costs down but they can still say it's a big diamond (or at least that it is a diamond). A lot of these goods would have been used as industrial stones a few years ago, but these days everyone seems to be trying to shave their costs. Frankly I used some diamond crystals in my jewelry about 25 years ago, but I tend to be a little ahead of the times I guess.

The second ring (meant to be worn with the first) was the same design but with a much smaller rose cut stone that the customers were told was a grey diamond as well.

One of the first thing I asked this couple was if they had recently purchased the rings, and when they said they had, why they weren't having the store they bought the rings in size the bands.
After all, I always include free sizing (anytime) whenever I sell a piece of jewelry, and frankly I think that any store that sells rings (excluding perhaps antique stores) should offer the service. If you pay a lot of money (and this couple did) the rings should be made to fit. If I did the sizing I was going to charge them and that seems kind of silly to me. They said the "designer" who made the bands was in California, but I told them that the store that sold them should at least have a local jeweler they worked with who could do it for them. They decided that they would go back to where they purchased the rings and ask them to do it.

However, that isn't what this is really about. Because I am a Graduate Gemologist, and because I am always thorough when looking at a piece of jewelry someone presents me, I took a closer look at the stones. When I looked at the smaller one, I realized I could see a streak of blue in the stone. Now ANY diamond crystal that shows blue in it would be properly cut (into a modern brilliant) and sold as a blue diamond, even if the color doesn't extend through the stone. As a matter of fact, most natural color blue diamonds that I've been shown by dealers, are stones that you have to hold up and kind of look in the corners to find the blue in them. Obviously there are blue diamonds that aren't like this (I've sold one and the Hope Diamond is a most notable one), but the bulk of them are, as blue is such an incredibly rare color in diamonds.

My suspicions now aroused, I checked the stone with my diamond tester first, and when the reading came back negative, took a closer look at the stone under the microscope. Sure enough, there was a blue streak as I might see in a very low quality sapphire and there were inclusions indicative of it being a sapphire. We then had a longer discussion about what the salespeople had told them about the identity of the smaller stone and they insisted they had been told it was a diamond. At that point I told them that they had to go back to the store and deal with that issue first as it was far more important than the sizing issues.

Legally, if they were told in writing (definitively) or even verbally (harder to prove), that the stone was a diamond than that is what they are entitled to have and it is the legal responsibility of the store to provide them with the same ring with a diamond in it. Ethically it is also the RIGHT thing to do.

Most customers, when they are buying a piece of jewelry are buying blind. They have no real idea of what they are getting and it is up to the jewelry store to make sure that they are clearly told exactly what it is. I haven't heard back from this couple about what happened (not sure if I will either, as the bearer of bad news is often not appreciated much) so I'm not sure if I can provide readers with a final comment on this.

However, my point in this posting is that all jewelers (or stores selling jewelry) have both a legal and ethical responsibility to fully disclose exactly what a customer is buying, and if the customer does not understand the information, they should explain it more thoroughly. As a customer, you should always make sure you shop at jewelry stores where full disclosure is a normal part of the sale, and you should also insist that any information relating to the identity, or quality, of a stone is clearly written on the receipt.

Next posting: Gemstone treatments

Pictured above: One of my favorite pins: 18k, 22k gold with Tibetan turquoise, Chinese freshwater pearl, fancy colored sapphires, and diamond.

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