How to Avoid Diamond Switching Scams at the Jeweler’s

diamond switching scams

Casting a Shadow of Doubt?

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. 

When Does Diamond Switching Usually Occur?

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…

Finding a trustworthy jeweler is the key to shopping with a peace of mind. Luckily for you, we’ve reviewed hundreds of businesses and curated a list of the best. Click here to find out who they are!

Most Jewelers Don’t Want Your Stone Anyway…

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.

jeweler plot before any repairs take place

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.

What to Look Out For When Buying in a Physical Store?

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.

Know Your Diamond Inside Out Helps!

know your diamond's inclusions

Inclusions Are Unique to Each Diamond!

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.

Stay Vigilant, It Never Hurts to be Cautious

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.

Working with a trustworthy and reputable jeweler like Whiteflash or James Allen will eliminate the possibility of getting scammed. These rock-solid vendors are in the business for the long term and the trail of happy customers is testament to that.

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  1. Dave-
    February 18, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Dishonest jewelers can also run elaborate scams to misrepresent their diamonds through the use of in-house appraisals or try to tell you how bad your purchase is in the hope that you buy from them instead. These are things that we all need to pay attention to.

  2. Julia Q.-
    February 25, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Thank you for writing this piece of information and sharing it with everyone. I found it very useful as a person who is researching into the world of buying diamonds. I guess the whole takeaway from this article is to be educated and never be afraid to ask questions when you have doubts. This section here is a great place to start reading up if you are new.

  3. Cesar-
    March 3, 2015 at 5:56 pm

    One of my friends had a huge problem with a dishonest jeweler in our local town. She went to the jeweler to get her diamond re-set into a new halo ring design. Apparently, after the setting was done, checks were made against the stone and it didn’t tally against the diamond specified in the grading report she had.

    Her previous stone had a GIA inscription number which could no longer be found on the stone and she realized this only a few months later. When she confronted the jeweler, the blame pushing started and of course, she couldn’t do anything about it since the incident had already happened 2 months ago.

  4. Zara-
    June 9, 2016 at 6:30 pm

    My mother’s wedding ring diamond was a 2 carat beautiful stone. She took it to get it reset and didn’t check it out properly after. Fast forward 20 years to when I go to redesign it…only for a $3 cubic zirconia to fall out and no way to get any sort of justice…be very vigilant guys

  5. Horton-
    June 25, 2016 at 4:59 am

    Very essential blog post! So often we purchase diamonds during various occasions but we don’t know how to verify whether the diamond we’re purchasing are genuine or fake. So after reading this post suggestions I’ve learned quite valuable knowledge regarding diamond.

  6. Lisa-
    September 27, 2016 at 7:38 pm

    Should I be concerned wtih leaving a 3 carat diamon at GIA to get certified? I am NOT mailing it as they suggest. I’m still worried, this is my grandmothers piece and I would be HEARTbroken if anything were to happen to it.

  7. Paul Gian-
    September 28, 2016 at 1:17 am

    You will be fine if you leave it at GIA. Believe it or not, 3 carats is no big deal compared to the diamonds they handle on a daily basis. The process is secure and highly reliable as they have many monitoring systems set up across every stage of the grading.

  8. Neil-
    September 30, 2016 at 5:25 pm

    We have just had our ring switched at a jewelers in Spain. My wife is heart broken and in tears. We had only just got the ring of a friend but the diamond was loose. We took it to be fixed and the man checked it with his eye glass and test meter for maybe a min. He said it was a very nice ring and he would give us a 1000 Euro for it now. We said no and he said it would be a week to fix it.
    When we got it back I asked him to check it with his meter but he said it was broken. I was a little sucpicious so I asked him if he would still give us 1000 Euro. He said he would but he would have to check it first – but he had all ready checked it a week ago.
    I was getting bad vibes and we left and went to another jewelers.
    He said it was categoricaly NOT a diamond and the ring was not hall marked!
    My wife had noticed the fit and feel colour and weight of gold of the ring was different and it had scatches and chips on it.
    We went back to the jewelers and confronted him with THIS IS NOT our ring. He then went into ramblings about the chips being because he squeezed the mounting and the colour was wrong
    because he had cleaned it in acid. When I pressed him to come round our side of the counter and check it with his glass he agreed in 5 seconds it was not diamond !
    We now go to the police to make a document….

  9. Maxine-
    October 26, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    My fiancé, mom, and brother flew out to visit me here in Vilnius, Lithuania. My mom brought a ring that her and my fiancé purchased in my hometown (he was flying in from Japan–we’re both military). About a week after he proposed and left, a little stone in the halo fell out. I’m so scared to get it fixed. The diamond isn’t HUGE but it’s near perfect. It’s 1.26k pear shape surrounded by .5 karats of halo stones. I’m so scared to get it fixed out here. I have the paperwork that verifies the worth of the stone and the inclusions. Vilnius is also a big city but few jewelers. Just mall jewelry stores. Any advice?

  10. Paul Gian-
    October 27, 2016 at 3:26 am

    I don’t have anyone I can refer to you for repairs at Vilnius. Anyway, getting the ring fixed is a fairly easy job and most jewelers should be able to do it without much issues. Ask around and talk to the jewelers for their assessment.

  11. Diana K.-
    April 10, 2017 at 1:46 am

    I am also concerned about diamond swapping and when I had to put mine, I honestly told the jewerer that the process makes me very anxious, that this is my problem, not his, but that I respectfully request for him to do it in front of me. He agreed. I paid him generously and appologized and thanked him many times but all in alli feel that’s the only acceptable way at least for me. I do not have to blindly trust people, be they professionals, with pretty expensive things, like my precious stone. Do you think that requesting he does the mounting in my precense was over the top? I was respectful and polite and explained that this was my problem, not his, and he didn’t seem to take offense.

  12. Paul Gian-
    April 10, 2017 at 4:41 am

    Diane, it’s a common issue that consumers have when having someone else work on an expensive diamond. Most jewelers won’t take offense to mount it in front of the consumer if time/schedule permits. It’s just part and parcel of being a jeweler in the business. So, no worries there.

  13. Brad Mathew Smith-
    February 15, 2018 at 11:53 pm

    Hi Paul, I would like to know whether it is possible to fake a GIA laser inscription on the diamond. I recently bought a 1.6 D IF diamond from the Antwerp diamond district for 60% of the price that is indicated on the Rapaport Diamond Prices and am concerned that the diamond is a fake. The diamond inscription, however, seems to match with the website. Thank you very much!

  14. Paul Gian-
    February 16, 2018 at 8:54 am

    It is possible to fake an inscription but one thing you need to understand, reliable vendors won’t do that.

    Now, as for using Rappaport report to sell diamonds, that’s a yellow flag and is a tactic frequently used to rip consumers off.

  15. Dana Talreja-
    February 24, 2018 at 7:30 am

    Thank you for all this helpful information Paul! And thank you for helping me avoid a very costly mistake :)

  16. Carl-
    March 28, 2018 at 11:44 pm

    I just purchased a forever mark diamond and left without knowing the diamond number. I went back a few days later to get the documentation paperwork, etc…with the serial number. How do I know the diamond I saw and bought has the same serial number of the documentation I received. The documentation has all the correct 4Cs but the only link between my receipt and the documentation is via a sticker with no date and no link to the documentation. The store is family owned and been in business for 20+ years. Should I be concerned?

  17. Paul Gian-
    March 29, 2018 at 1:32 am

    I would be concerned. And why on earth would you even make the purchase in this manner to begin with? It’s absolutely foolish.

    To be sure, I can tell you outright that there’s no way for me to know or for you to find out.

  18. Mister K-
    May 30, 2018 at 10:30 pm

    If one needs to wear something pretty in public, a CZ will work just as well. It all depends upon who’s wearing it.

  19. Paul Gian-
    May 31, 2018 at 1:29 am

    You are absolutely right. For diamond alternatives, CZ are the best and cheapest gemstones that are somewhat comparable to diamonds in terms of appearances.

  20. Jim S-
    July 28, 2018 at 8:49 pm

    Paul, I have a diamond that I purchased in 1996 that has an AGS number assigned to it. I need to take the diamond in for an appraisal for insurance purposes. In previous comments, you noted a “GIA laser inscription” — is this something I could request to be done by the appraising shop to better protect the diamond going forward? Any thoughts on that general cost? I’m nervous to leave it for the appraisal, but seems it must be done and the best defense will be to pick the appraising shop based on reputation and not price (in Knoxville, TN).

  21. Paul Gian-
    July 29, 2018 at 3:02 am

    You could get the laser inscription done for $20-$30. It’s a relatively easy request as long as the appraiser has the laser machine. Anyway, I think your fears are a little overblown. The fact is, most appraisers don’t want your diamond or do something funny with it. The risk of “cheating” you for a couple of hundred or thousand dollars is completely not worth the reputation damage. The easiest way to know what you passed to them for the appraisal is to locate a few inclusions in the diamond and know what/where they are. These can’t be changed via laser inscriptions and it helps you to identify the diamond with assurance. Get the person to give you a quick rundown and show you the inclusions via a microoscope in a quick 3-4 minutes sit down. When the job is done, go through the same process again so you know that the stone is yours.

  22. Jordan-
    August 16, 2018 at 5:10 pm

    I bought a GIA laser inscribed diamond and am having a local jeweler mount it on a ring. This jeweler was the only dealer in the area who was authorized as a dealer for this ring so I went with him.
    He had asked me the measurements of the diamond before ordering the ring. My fear is that he could possibly created a “copy diamond” and laser inscribed it while the mounting is completed.
    Is it normal that a jeweler ask for the precise measurements?? I’m worried about leaving it with him.

  23. Paul Gian-
    August 17, 2018 at 1:32 pm

    For what’s its worth, nobody in the long term business would be interested in swapping out a diamond and cause reputation damage. If you don’t trust the jeweler, then don’t use them. Travel somewhere further and work with another person. Otherwise, the tips I listed here to avoid scams should address all your concerns.

  24. Jesse-
    September 30, 2018 at 9:48 pm

    Hi Paul,

    My cousin had found what appears to be a mounted diamond encircled with smaller diamonds. We both know nothing about determining whether an actual diamond is real, but it was refracting rainbows in natural light. I don’t know what to do next.

    For more context, we found this at a nearby gas station floor while cleaning my vehicle. We are guessing someone may have broken the mount off while cleaning. If no one has come looking for their stone, what should we do?

  25. Paul Gian-
    October 1, 2018 at 2:14 am

    If you want to know what the stone is, bring it to a jeweler and they should be able to identify it for you without any charges.

  26. Jen-
    October 8, 2018 at 7:48 pm

    I was wondering how likely it is for a jeweler to lie about the grade of your diamonds. I purchased a used ring online for a great deal, it had small diamonds all around. I went to a jewlery store to verify that the ring was platinum and that the diamonds were real. He did some testing and confirmed that the ring was platinum and diamonds were real but low quality. This was hard to believe given the ring was supposedly a Tiffany and Co. ring. After the jeweler told me this, I concluded that it was not a real Tiffany ring and returned it. It was unfortunate because I paid half the price of a new “real” one. Would they lie so I purchase one from their store instead?

  27. Paul Gian-
    October 9, 2018 at 2:39 am

    Jewelers lie because they want to rip uneducated customers like you off for one reason: money. You paid half price for a “real” Tiffany ring and you think you really gotten a deal? It’s not how things work in the industry. The only person that got a deal was the scumbag who misrepresented the ring.

  28. Peter-
    October 17, 2018 at 1:54 pm

    The worst scam are under appraisals! many jewelers, if they think there is a slim chance of purchasing, will give you an informal appraisal half of what you could sell it yourself for online.

    I had an informal, written appraisal done on 20 estate pieces. To avoid suspicion , the jeweler quoted fairly accurate prices for a couple of obvious pieces but then outrageously undervalued remaining jewelry, esp. diamonds. An example: $345. for a Trinity diamond ring I sold myself for $2800. At best, the pieces were appraised for 50-75% less than what “second hand” jewelry would go for. I experienced the same underhanded practices with 3 jewelers. There is no excuse for that kind of greed. The best assurance is a written appraisal that you have to pay for. It can be worth the price.

  29. Paul Gian-
    October 17, 2018 at 3:35 pm

    You hit the nail there. There are plenty of scumbags who sully the reputation of the industry when they try to take advantage of uneducated shoppers. Whether you are selling or buying jewelry, finding a reliable vendor is half the battle won.

  30. Skylark-
    October 23, 2018 at 11:24 pm

    well, here’s a weird one for you. I had my ‘trusted’ jeweler of 30 years send my Kashmir sapphire to a cutter in NYC, to then deliver it to AGL. It was indeed certified a true 2.47 Kashmir. However, when I got it back this week, it’s an entirely different color…darker and not as velvet blue. I took pictures of it before I sent it, but did not map out the scratches or imperfections. It was, however, accurately measured, and weighed etc. and fits that bill. Is is possible the cutter did a CAD, made a ‘copy cat’ and switched it before sending it back?

  31. Paul Gian-
    October 24, 2018 at 1:56 am

    Well, I have no idea and can’t do any detective work without knowing details. What I will say is, for the jeweler to risk committing a crime over a few dollars is really stupid and short sighted. It’s your words against the jewelers and you should have thought about this issue prior to sending it to a “trusted” jeweler.

  32. Sam-
    November 5, 2018 at 5:09 am

    This happens more than you think as it is so hard to prove even if you know it after you leave the store. Marks are so little to show a diamond swap and the marks on the band are hard to see, later on you feel the rough spot. It is a real shame that this is what is happening but it is. Everyone knows the look of their ring and it is something you see when you look at the ring in the same way in your car or your own home with the same lighting. Then there is nothing you can do as the crooked person does this as they get away with it easily. They have no fear of their reputation as this is almost impossible to prove.

  33. Paul Gian-
    November 5, 2018 at 2:44 pm

    I understand your concerns and there are a minority of scumbags in the industry that tarnish the overall reputation of jewelers. The thing is, if you can get the jeweler to agree and see (i.e. penning it down in the plot) and verifying the SAME exact inclusions with you on collection, it says alot about them and how they conduct business. If they aren’t willing to do so or simply tell you to “trust” them, then there are better jewelers out there to do business with.

  34. Monica-
    December 14, 2018 at 7:33 am

    I was handed down a 2 carat diamond ring with a think band that consists of smaller diamonds. I wanted to reset the diamond as a solitaire ring with an infinity diamond band. Is it possible to have the jeweler mount the 2 carat stone in my presence? And as for the smaller diamonds…I’m assuming it’s impossible to have the jeweler make the band in front of me but is there a way to insure the smaller diamonds haven’t been switched out?

  35. Paul Gian-
    December 14, 2018 at 5:39 pm

    It depends on the jeweler and what they can work with. To do what you ask, they must make a setting and probably customize the head of the ring beforehand. The best way for them to do this is to work with a loose diamond. Here’s the thing, if you don’t even trust them to leave your diamond with them, then why are you even considering to use them in the first place? Find someone you trust and these problems would have resolve themselves.

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