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Real Deal

Real Deal: The Case of the Legitimate Owner



Real Deal: The Case of the Legitimate Owner


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.

Andrea and Joe had been high school sweethearts. They had been inseparable since they were 15, staying tight through college, and even graduate school, when they made the 200 miles between them their regular weekend drive. After graduation, they both moved back to their home town in the Northeast, Joe taking a job with a local accounting firm and Andrea beginning her career as a marketing executive.

It came as no surprise to their childhood friend Evan Gates when Joe approached him for help in selecting Andrea’s engagement ring. Evan had been at the helm of Gates Fine Jewelry since taking the store over from his father two years before. He was delighted that Joe trusted him to help with his big decision.

Evan learned quickly that Andrea was very particular. Nevertheless, knowing specifically what she wanted in her ring. Joe was committed to making the decision himself and keeping the ring as a surprise. The accountant side of him was also specific about the investment he was willing to make, and about what he thought he should get for his money.


Evan worked with a number of his diamond vendors over several months to find just the right center stone. He was delighted when Joe finally settled on a stunning 2.35ct cushion-shaped diamond that the GIA certified as G, SI1. Even with Evan’s generous “friends and family” discount, Joe’s price on the diamond alone was just over $26,000. After working for another month on designing the perfect ring to hold the diamond, Evan was finally able to deliver the ring of Andrea’s dream, and Joe managed to stay within his $35,000 budget. Joe proposed to Andrea the week before her 28th birthday. He called Evan the next day to report that she said ‘Yes’, and that the ring was a big hit. The wedding date was set for the following summer – about a year away.

Evan saw Joe and Andrea often in the months following their engagement but as fall came around, it seemed his friends were less available. In early December, Andrea came by the store to drop the ring off for sizing. She’d lost some weight, and it was about a size too big. The design of the ring would make sizing a challenge for Gates’ custom jeweler, and the shop was busy with holiday work — so Evan asked for two weeks to get the job done. He completed a repair envelope with all the necessary information, had Andrea sign off on the value and instructions, and gave her the claim ticket.

Monday of the following week, Evan and Joe met for lunch. Shortly after they were seated, Evan revealed that he and Andrea had split up. He mentioned that when he asked Andrea for the ring back, she told him it was at Gates for sizing. Joe asked Evan if he could come by the store and pick it up that afternoon.

Evan’s first reaction was shock that his friends were splitting after all this time. He asked Joe if it might not be better to give it some time – but Joe was adamant it was over. It also occurred to Evan that the ring was left with the store in Andrea’s name. Not wanting to upset Joe further, and needing to buy some time to evaluate his options, Evan told Joe that he would be out of the store that afternoon and all of the next day. Joe agreed to come by Wednesday to pick up the ring.

When he returned to the store, Evan picked up a message from Andrea, asking if it would be possible to have her ring ready early so she could wear it for an event at the end of the week.

Who is the rightful owner of the ring? Evan knew for certain that Joe paid for the ring, but he also knew that Andrea had a claim ticket for the ring in her name. To whom is Gates Fine Jewelry obligated? Should he tell Andrea that Joe asked him for the ring? Is there a way for Evan to handle this situation without destroying his friendship with Joe or Andrea — or both?


Comment below (please leave your name and store) or at [email protected].




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