I received a call from a client of mine. I could tell that I was on speaker phone so I chose my words carefully. He explained that he had a friend that had a diamond she needed to sell. He wanted to send her over to me to see what I could do for her. I told him that I did not buy diamonds off the street but would do what I could to advise her.
An hour later this stunningly beautiful woman shows up at my door with two very well dressed and groomed boys, approximately 8 and 10 years old. They entered and within seconds she was excusing herself to return the boys to the car. I explained that they were more than welcome to stay but she insisted that they would be fine in the car with the AC on – Warning Bell #1.
She retuned only to pull a diamond out of her purse that was neatly secured in a jeweler’s ziploc bag – Warning Bell #2. She explained that she had lost her diamond out of her wedding set (which she was still wearing – Warning Bell #3) and had a CZ put in the ring – Warning Bell #4. She later found the diamond. Now she was planning to leave her husband and wanted to sell the diamond – RED ALERT!!
Remember, I studied gemology not psychology. It is none of my business, nor do I care, what her station of life is or her destiny – I am not trained to understand.
However, there are a few things I do know. I have reared children and I know there are some things they need not know however, those things usually do not take place in a jewelry store. I also know that a man that invests money in his wife to have perfect platinum blond hair, manicured eye brows, hands and feet, enhanced full lips and breasts, a personal trainer and massage therapist (my client provides the last two services) – would NEVER allow his wife to walk around with a CZ as the symbol of their marriage. I understand she said she lost the first one, I understand he may not have had it insured or been able to replace the one she lost with another one – but a CZ – I do not think so.
Yet another thing experience has taught me… people who find a lost diamond seldom bring it to you in a jeweler’s bag. I have received lost diamonds from coin compartments of wallets, sandwich bags, pill bottles, old jewelry gift boxes, film containers and my personal favorite – Kleenex tissue paper secured with Scotch tape.
As I sent her out the door with the heart breaking news that she was not going to get the $15,000 – $20,000 she thinks he paid for the ring, I felt as though I had just dodged a bullet. I did not fully understand why or at whom the bullet was shot, but I was relieved to have her out of my office.
Moments later, one of my students, working on her Gem ID class with GIA, emerged from the lab. She came out and asked if that kind of thing happens often and if I understood the potential danger that I had just avoided. Her husband is a divorce attorney and by proxy she is privy to the ugliness of divorce. She enlightened me to the fact that in most divorces of middle class or upper class couples, jewelry – especially wedding rings – is a marital asset that is often the battle ground for an ugly war. Her $15K wedding set, $5K diamond earrings, $7K diamond tennis bracelet, $8K diamond solitaire pendant and her gold watch adds up to a huge hammer that he will use to further pound at her heart. It also can become, so she thinks, a great start to a new future if gotten rid of BEFORE she announces she is leaving.
What danger did I avoid? Depending on who her husband is and how ugly the divorce gets I could have become the jeweler that helped her unfairly liquidate assets before they became fair game. I could have become a party to the fraud of diamond switching that she evoked on her husband. Neither my student nor I are attorneys and are unsure if there is any legal recourse the husband would have if our suspicions were confirmed. None the less, words like fraud, switching, theft, cheating and hiding are not words I want spoken in the same sentence as my store name or even my own name.
If you think this is an isolated case you need only turn on your radio. It was only 5 months ago that a talk show host of a local radio station was discussing women who get engaged and have their new diamond switched with a CZ after selling it to a jeweler. They use the money to pay off debt so that they can maintain the image of being financially responsible and so that they will not carry debt into the marriage. They fully intend on replacing the diamond later when they have the funds, but seldom do.
I thought the incident that the talk show host was referring to was one isolated case, until he opened up the phone lines for discussion. His phone lines were flooded with calls from women promoting the idea, women sharing their twist on the fraud, or women with stories of people they knew who did it. I was left speechless as I sat in my car listening to this.
Marital asset, I never thought of it as an asset to be fought over and I am thrilled I was willing to follow my instincts that told me I did not know the full story, did not want to know the full story and did not need to buy the diamond that had a story.
Tammy L. Williams, Graduate Gemologist of GIA, also prizes her membership in AGTA. She is President of J D Jewelers, a salon private jewelry business located in Suwanee, Georgia and the Southeastern Rep for Global Diamonds. Tammy is very active as a speaker and authority on Gemstones and Diamonds. Whether in her laboratory at J D Jewelers, on the lecture circuit or writing about her experiences in business, her love and passion for gemstones becomes contagious. If you’d like to contact Tammy, please e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.