I recently had a customer come in for a repair on a ring of mine and when we got it cleaned up realized that she had whacked the stone at some point and pretty much ruined it as it cracked all the way through the stone. Most likely there was a small inclusion there that when she hit it was extended throughout the stone.
This is not a common
experience but it does happen. When talking to her about it I suggested
that she contact her insurance company as some of them will cover
damage to jewelry, as well as loss or theft. She did, and as it
happens, the insurance company did agree to cover it (minus her
deductible). I always think it's nice when you can actually get an
insurance company that will do this but from here on it the process got
much more dicey.
The insurance company called me up and
asked how much I thought it would cost to replace the stone. I quoted
them a price based on what I would normally charge my customers for an
equivalent quality stone (in this case, roughly $1800). Now I know
that insurance companies are loath to pay full retail prices. They
routinely set up deals with retailers who offer them large discounts
because the insurance company directs significant amounts of business in
their direction. There are also now companies out there who are
basically just an office space and all they do is insurance
Insurance companies will very, very
rarely pay out actual money for what they have insured something for, so
if you have a ring appraised at $20,000 and it gets stolen don't think
you're going to get $20,000 in cash back from them. Usually, they have
only agreed (when you read the fine print) to "make you whole" which for
them means finding the cheapest possible replacement for what you had.
This is a good reason to make sure that if you have designer made
pieces you need to have a proper appraisal on them that clearly
identifies who makes them and current replacement values and that you
need proper descriptions of any gemstones (including diamonds) that you
may own. Even if they agree to make you whole in cash, they will still
base the payout on what they could purchase a similar piece for from one
of their suppliers.
So in this case, the first thing
the insurance company did was go to one of the companies they work with
that is basically an office space doing insurance replacements. And
within a week they called me back and said, we can get the same stone
from them for $650. Now as it happens, this was a blue/purple sapphire
and I have been specializing in purple sapphires for over 30 years and I
knew that there was no way that they could replace what I was looking
at for $650 no matter how large of a discount they were getting. So I
told them I wanted to see the stone (since I'm the one putting it back
in the ring I would need to anyway) first. The company shipped it out
to me and surprise, surprise, it wasn't quite what my customer had.
Actually it wasn't at all what the customer had. It was a completely
different color, it was so poorly cut that the stone wasn't even a true
oval shape and it had eye visible inclusions and a nick on one side. It
went back to their supplier, along with the original stone so they
could get a better idea of what they were actually trying to replace. A
couple of weeks later I got two new stones in. I had talked to them
about how poor the make (the cut) had been on the first one and that
there was no way the customer should have to accept that. These two
stones were both much better cut, yet neither one of them was actually
the same color. One of them was quite nice and had a pleasing color
change but it is still not the same color stone as she had. Both of
these stones are significantly more expensive than the first one they
tried to use, albeit still a little less than what I would be charging.
But it still isn't the same color stone. Unfortunately the insurance
company is never going to pay my prices so the customer is going to have
to pick one of the ones they sent (and the one I liked is a very pretty
stone and I will probably recommend that one for her). Now if they had
agreed to work with me I would have found a stone that was a pretty
exact replacement because, as I said before, I specialize in these
So what are you, as a customer going to do?
Well, first of all, you should actually read your insurance policies so
you know what they say about things like this. Or, ask your agent to
clearly explain what they cover if you don't have the time or energy to
try to decipher the cryptic language usually used. Secondly, you might
consider insuring your jewelry with a company like Jeweler's Mutual Insurance Company.
This is my insurance company and the only product they cover is jewelry
so they have a better grasp on this issue than any other company in the
world. They sell individual policies, that are competitively priced and
most importantly they will let you go to the jeweler of your choosing!
If you buy from someone like me this is immensely important as you
really can't replace what I sell at a commercial jewelry store (no
matter what the insurance companies tell you---and no matter how much
they try to get other jewelers to violate copyright by having them copy
another jeweler's designs).
Remember that while
insurance companies like to sell you on the idea that they are providing
peace of mind, truly they are only providing it up to the dollar amount
they are willing to pay out. Ask questions! Find out what your real
For my regular readers, if you haven't
been on my website recently, you should know that we have been going
through an overhaul of it. While the general format is the same there
are a lot of new pictures up and we have been playing around with a lot
of things on it. Please check it out. If you have any feedback, please
let me know. We've been using a wonderful website person in Wisconsin
and I have posted a link to her on the side of the page where I have my
The ring pictured above is 950 platinum with a purple sapphires and diamonds.