One of the sharpest insults to any decent jeweler is a customer complaint of, “You switched my diamond!” Of course, we didn’t, but convincing the outraged customer that their precious gem has more sentimental value than monetary value and that is what they walked into your store with, could become a legal and financial disaster for any ill-prepared jeweler.
A few years ago I was in my shop in the evening to catch the dinner crowd. A well-dressed couple came in while they were waiting for their dinner seats. The wife handed me her 3 ct. engagement ring and said, “I want to redesign this mounting.” I was happy to help with a new custom-designed mounting for her. As I examined her ring more closely under my 40-power Meiji microscope, BANG! there was the purple flash. I looked again and could see the crack and that it was filled. This was a Yehuda fracture-filled diamond.
I was very aware of the Yehuda process and recognized it immediately. I informed the couple that this was a Yehuda fracture-filled stone and assured her it was fine and that I could easily work with it.
This is where everything turned. “What does that mean? Is it not a real diamond?” I went on to explain the Yehuda process and again assured her it was fine and that I could easily work with it. She then turned to her husband. “Has something happened and my diamond has been switched?” The uncomfortable silence and hem-hawing avoidance from the husband continued for about 15 minutes. He finally reluctantly decided to confess. “That is what I bought, but the jeweler who sold it to me said no one could ever tell.” Needless to say, his wife was rather disappointed.
We resolved the issue and I ended up creating a beautiful ring for her and they stayed loyal customers. However, consider this situation with one slight difference. Suppose for a moment, I had NOT examined the ring so thoroughly. Suppose I had NOT seen the fracture or simply failed to disclose that information right there in front of the customer where the ring had never left their sight. Would the husband confess later? Or would he let his wife believe that I swapped her stone? Even without a legal battle or pursuit for restitution, the tarnish on my reputation would certainly have an impact.
Your intake process matters! Simple things such as never write ‘Diamond’ on the intake unless you are willing to bet your business on it. Write clear stone, in white metal or something generic until you are certain. If you have to, tell the customer you will follow up before you start any work and have a jeweler or gemologist check the items. Always check closely and note what you’re taking in. Take photographs of the state of the items you are receiving. If you don’t know something, be willing to tell your customer, “I don’t know what this is, but I will find out and let you know before we proceed.
Today’s influx of lab grown diamonds makes this even more critical. Considering that a tester to indicate lab grown stones is around $6,000. Not everyone has one. The main point here is to take the time to carefully examine everything you take in and avoid making absolute statements. Have a take-in policy and always use it!