Last updateTue, 19 Jun 2018 9pm

Retailer Roundtable: With repairs, what’s your response when asked about switching a diamond?


Q: With repairs, what’s your response when asked about switching a diamond? 

RR Schwieterman Jan“I think the industry is still feeling the effects of that high profile [NBC] Dateline story from 2005 when a New York-based jeweler was caught and arrested for doing just this. Unfortunately, this news story indicted all jewelers. Our solution is being transparent, literally. We have a 5’ x 3’ viewing window of the jeweler’s workshop. People can watch me set their diamond, while they wait or by appointment. And, if they can’t make it to the store, they can log into our website and watch me set their diamond with a live streaming video feature. Since we opened our new store 18 months ago in the Northwest Hills area of Austin, this question has only been asked twice during that time. On both of those occasions, the customers weren’t directing accusations at us as business owners. But rather, they seemed to have a similar attitude when dealing with a used car salesman, letting the sales associate know they have some sort of inside knowledge and that they’re dealing with a knowledgeable customer. Both times a quick tour of the store, discussing our history and the solid word-of-mouth reputation we’ve established in this area over such a short time gets us through that line of questioning.”

Dan Schwieterman, owner
Regard Jewelry
Austin, TX


RR Blatter Jan“With repairs and custom work I get this question at least a few times a week. I try to use a little humor and tell them that with this diamond I can escape to The Keys, the Florida Keys that is. It wouldn’t get me very far and it’s not worth it for me to steal from you as a customer. I’ve been serving many people and their families for generations, so I’ve earned that trust. But when the customer doesn’t know me or my business they’re asking this question because unfortunately there are jewelers that have done this to people. Finding a trustworthy jeweler is like finding a good doctor or lawyer. People recommend you and then the jeweler - or lawyer or doctor - earns their trust and their business. For these new customers I have a list of references they can call to check me out. Many people have called these references. In my office, I also keep a scrapbook of hand-written thank you notes from out-of-market customers, as well as local area clients, that have trusted me with their heirlooms and valuables. Again, I understand why people ask this question and I’m always prepared to earn their trust.” 

Jonathan Blatter, owner
Edian Jewelry LLC
Hialeah, FL


RR Herzlich Jan“This is a common question - especially with new customers, and because of an event that happened in our city. A few years back a competitor in my market had a bench jeweler who was switching diamonds with CZs and was caught. He was arrested and it was all over the news. For me and my staff, we treat this question like any other objection in a sales presentation, it gives us the opportunity to turn a negative into a positive by reinforcing that we’ve been in business 40 years for a reason, and that we’ve earned the trust and satisfaction of multiple generations of customers. I have plenty of my own diamonds in inventory. Why would I stain that history and my reputation by stealing a diamond? I understand people’s concerns. But make sure your staff all has the same talking points when coming up against this question. The message must be consistent and the customer needs to know their concerns are being taken seriously. I also have a list of references people can call and we’re members of the Better Business Bureau. I encourage customers to make these calls if necessary. Like most freestanding and strip mall-based jewelry stores, we’re a destination store. People come to us based on a recommendation. If it’s the customer’s first time in the store we have to make them comfortable.” 

Elliott Herzlich, owner
Elliott’s Jewelers
Clarksville, TN


RR Cantrell Jan “James, my husband, has been a jeweler in town for more than 40 years. We’ve been here all of these years so people know us and trust us. There’s no reason for us to switch a diamond. But, on occasion people do ask. The 40 years in business response works well, along with stating James being a JA [Jewelers of America] Certified Master Jeweler. This is something we use in a lot in our promotional materials because James worked very hard to earn the title and he’s the only certified master jeweler around. We have two stores in Coffeyville and Independence, Kansas. With a population of about 9,000 in each town, we have limited competition. But by my estimates, we get about 95 percent of the repair and custom work in the two markets we serve. In our store, we don’t have a set response or policy on how best to respond to this repair or custom question. Every person and every situation is different. We did have one repair customer in recent years who asked if we switched the center diamond in his men’s ring. We noted the center diamond had a chip in it. When the gentleman asked if we switched out the chipped diamond for a diamond that wasn’t chipped, we were perplexed at his question. Why we would swap out his diamond and replace it with a better center stone at our loss? It didn’t make sense. The gentleman was serious, but eventually paid for his repair and left.”

Sonya Cantrell, vice president
Cantrell’s Fine Jewelry
Coffeyville and Independence, KS (Two stores) 


RR Hollis Jan“I love it when people ask this question because it gives me the chance to help them get to know their diamond better. Let’s face it. Many people buy an important diamond a few times in their lives at best. Once they buy it, they get it appraised and that’s it. That’s all they know about their diamond. When a repair or custom customer asks about switching a diamond, I hand them a 10-power loupe and introduce them to the internal ‘birthmarks’ of their diamond. If the loupe doesn’t provide enough magnification, then we use the store’s gemological microscope. To avoid the ‘diamond switch’ question, we work with the customer when they drop off and pick up their diamond jewelry. People really enjoy holding the loupe or looking at their diamond through the microscope. They learn more about the important diamonds in their jewelry and confirm the diamond they dropped off is the diamond they’re picking up. Again, the key phrases are getting to know the ‘birthmarks’ that make their diamond unique and getting to know your diamond better. This approach has worked well for us for years.”

Karen Hollis, owner
K. Hollis Jewelers
Batavia, IL