Whether you are having an anniversary celebration, upcoming engagement proposal or simply want a nice piece of diamond jewelry, you want to take precautions to ensure you receive the correct goods as stated at the point of sale.
Even if you are bringing your jewelry for a routine cleaning at your local retailer, having some knowledge in diamond switching scams will help ensure the safety of your jewelry in their hands.
Here are some basic guidelines on what to look for and how to proceed with caution when dealing with a jeweler; especially one that you are not familiar with yet.
In most cases, diamond switching occurs when you leave a diamond unattended with an unethical sales associate or a jeweler without taking proper precautions.
For example, did you know that a diamond can be switched right after you had picked it out and need it mounted into a setting? This requires you to leave the stone overnight or over a period of days with the jeweler. With more time to work with the stone, it’s easier for unscrupulous jewelers to make the switch.
Diamonds can also be swapped out quickly when taking your jewelry for a simple cleaning routine. Once you walk out of the store without checking, the jeweler will have complete deniability after you realized the stone had been changed.
Usually, diamonds are swapped with high quality CZ stones because they look as good as the real thing to the untrained eyes. You probably won’t detect anything amiss until months or years later. By that time, it is too late to make any accusations! It’s your word against theirs…
I would say that the majority of jewelers in the industry are trustworthy and won’t risk jeopardizing their reputation for a small short term gain. Sometimes, honest mistakes may occur in the workshop. For example, when a piece of jewelry is brought in for a repair or change of setting, there can be cases of mix-ups happening in the workshop.
In order to prevent such an issue and any misunderstandings from occurring, you should always request the jeweler to plot your diamond on a receipt before leaving it in their hands. Basically, this involves the jeweler to map out the locations and types of inclusions clearly on a piece of paper. A copy of this plot is then kept by both you and the jeweler for identification purposes when you return for collection.
If your diamond has a grading report and laser inscription number, this process will be relatively straightforward.
A receipt with the plotted diagram helps protect both parties involved.
For any reason that the sales staff or person-in-charge refuses to plot the diagrams, take your business to another jeweler who does. There’s no point in exposing your jewelry to any unnecessary risks.
We live in the age of Internet technology and it is easy to get information about a jeweler’s reputation at the click of a few mouse buttons. This is your “first line of defense”. If there had been any scams or concerns raised by previous customers, this information will most likely be documented on sites like the Better Business Bureau or the Federal Trade Commission.
Next, jewelers should be willing to provide information like grading reports and have the necessary equipment for you to verify the diamond prior to completing a sales transaction. If they refuse to do this or make excuses, this is a huge red flag to tell you something is amiss.
Also, you should be extremely wary of businesses that require cash payments upfront without any form of written guarantees. Never take such risks because it is very difficult to track cash payments. Instead, you might want to consider using a credit card for payment as it leaves a paper trail and offers some degree of consumer protection.
Did you know professional appraisers can take up to a few hours to grade and appraise the value of a diamond depending on their experience and the nature of the jewelry? If their examination process can be so detailed and thorough, yours should be as well.
When you are faced with the scenario of leaving your diamond unattended for routine cleaning or re-sizing work, make sure you view your diamond through a loupe. Check for details like unique inclusions or marks on your diamond.
You can use the reference list here to help you identify your diamond’s inclusions.
Make a note of this and let the other party re-confirm the details you had seen and come to a common agreement. This will let the other party know you are paying attention to every detail and they better not be messing around. If there is a laser inscription on the diamond, make it known to the other party too. It can be used as a quick and easy way for identifying the diamond.
Before you leave the shop with your jewelry, make sure you re-verify the details during the pickup. If you notice that something is off, make sure you raise any disputes immediately.
With all that said, diamond switching scams don’t happen as frequently as you think they might. When it does occur, it is because the unwary customer didn’t use common sense when choosing a jeweler.
Hopefully, you will keep these tips in mind when you are shopping or taking your diamond ring for a servicing job. Remember, having proper documentation will help avoid unnecessary trouble in the event of a dispute.