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Real Deal

Real Deal: The Case of the Cursed Cruise Diamond

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Real Deal: The Case of the Cursed Cruise Diamond

BY KATE PETERSON

Editor’s Note: Real Deal scenarios are inspired by true stories, but are changed to sharpen the dilemmas involved. The names of the characters and stores have been changed and should not be confused with real people or places.

Allison Garrett had seen a lot in her 8 years as the staff gemologist and appraiser at William Wilson Fine Jewelers. With Wilson’s affluent client base, she’d seen amazing finds from Grandma’s closet, and she’d seen absolute disasters bought by unsuspecting customers from scam artists around the world. Diligent, accurate and highly regarded by her peers and by the Wilsons themselves, Allison always took her job seriously, showing genuine passion for gemstones and diamonds, as well as real concern for their owners.

Dana and Fred Stiller were long-time Wilson clients, and since their retirement after the sale of their packaging company in 2000, serious world travelers. Allison and the Wilson sales team had long since stopped trying to convince the Stillers that buying jewelry during their excursions was ill advised. The truth was that despite the often large price tags, the pieces the Stillers bought when they traveled were usually as much souvenir as anything to them, and because of the great service they always got, they continued to buy fabulous pieces for special occasions from the store. Besides — Dana Stiller had a good eye — and there had been many occasions when Allison was actually impressed with the value she had gotten on pieces she brought in for appraisal.

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Such was the case back in March when Dana brought in a pink diamond ring she had purchased while on a Mediterranean cruise. She handed Allison the paperwork from the selling store (not an independent lab report — just a store sales receipt and “authenticity certificate”) that said the center diamond in the ring was an SI1, fancy vivid pink pear shape weighing 0.77 carats, and that the ring contained 1.05 TCW in white diamond accents. The “sell-for” price was listed at U.S.$9,870.

Dana needed to have the ring sized and accurately appraised for her insurance. Allison examined the ring, made her notes, took a picture and sent the ring to the shop for sizing.
A week later, when Allison looked at the re-sized ring before calling Dana to let her know it was ready, the diamond was no longer the “fancy vivid pink” described in the original paperwork. In fact, it didn’t look anything like it did when it left her hands to go to the shop. She estimated the stone as a C-4 champagne, with absolutely no hint of pink. In a panic, Allison dug into online research, looking for possible explanations for what had happened. She learned that the diamond was most likely coated to give it a pink color and that the jewelers torch probably melted the coating off. Once she knew what she was looking for, with careful examination under the microscope, Allison was able to see some remnants of the coating in a small area of the diamond’s pavilion.

She went back to the original documentation Dana had received with the ring and verified that there was absolutely no mention of coating or treatment of any kind. Her research also pointed out that the process of coating was popular in the area where Dana purchased the diamond.
Allison called the Stillers to tell them there was a problem with the ring and to ask them to come in to discuss the issues and the options. When Dana saw the ring, her initial reaction was anger, accusing the Wilsons’ jeweler of switching her diamond. Once Allison explained the coating process, however, showing Dana both her research and the remnants of the coating on the stone, Dana calmed a bit, but was still disappointed, and unhappy with Allison’s only suggestion — that she send the ring back to the store where she bought it and request a refund. She took her ring home and said she’d be back in touch.

Two days later, Dana came back to the store, and asked to meet with Allison and Bill Wilson, the store’s owner. She said she’d been in touch with the store where the ring was bought, and they told her that in fact, all of their fancy colored diamonds are coated, and that there are signs in the store to that effect. They told her that if she would send the ring back to them (at her expense), they would re-coat it at no charge. She complained that she did not know about the coating, and that she wanted them to give her the “real” pink diamond she thought she bought. They refused, and also refused to refund her money.

Dana told Allison and Bill that after talking with the selling store, she’d contacted her attorney who told her that she had little recourse with the foreign business, but that Wilson’s should assume responsibility for the replacement, since Allison should have known the diamond was coated before sending it to her jeweler.

She said she was not looking to take advantage of the store — but she felt that some level of compensation for professional responsibility was called for. The bottom line is that she brought in a pink diamond with paperwork saying it was a pink diamond and got back something else entirely.Dana Stiller wants a pink diamond. The one she had was clearly enhanced, but Bill has no interest whatsoever in replacing it with a coated diamond through his store.


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THE BIG QUESTIONS:
What should Bill Wilson do for Dana Stiller? Is the long-term value of the customer worth the investment in fixing this mess? More important, what should he do with Allison — who, in fact, should have spotted the coating before the ring went to the shop?

Comment below or at [email protected].

 

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