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Commentary: The Business

Terry Chandler: Don’t Jump!

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The dishonesty of a few shouldn’t influence all the ethical jewelers out there.


“But Mother, everyone else is going,” said teenage “me” in many conversations, pleading to go with my buddies to places Mother thought inappropriate. Fortunately for me, her response never changed: “If everyone else jumped off the bridge, would you?”

Fast forward: A colleague called recently to lament yet another jeweler exposed by the local news for using suspect lab reports and documents that severely misrepresented the grade of a diamond sold to a customer.

Early in the conversation my friend uttered the phrase I saw coming: “Well,” said he, “We all know this goes on, and everyone — to some extent — does it.”

Instinctively I said, “If everyone jumped off the bridge would you?” (Mother would have been proud!)

However, the truth is also: No, everyone does not misrepresent diamond grades or use questionable reports and documents. In fact, I strongly contend that only a small fraction of jewelers do this.

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Nevertheless, on an almost weekly basis, we see media exposés of unethical jewelers misrepresenting diamond grades, selling diamond simulants as natural diamonds or using highly questionable reports that overvalue a diamond. This issue seems to be worsening, and it will destroy our industry if not forcefully addressed.

The art and science of diamond grading has been established and agreed upon for decades. Diamond graders understand the parameters, and most are ethical and honest. To devalue the documents and the diamonds they represent for a little extra margin is dishonest. Dishonesty, reported continually by the media about jewelers will, without question, further erode the confidence consumers have in our industry and our products.

Now let me be clear: I am not talking about the story we’ve all heard, of the jeweler who sent the same diamond to different labs and got varying grades from lab to lab. In almost all the cases of which I am aware, the variance was minimal — maybe one color or clarity grade different, if that.

This kind of difference is a result of the confluence of the art and science of grading, not blatant misrepresentation. What I am addressing here is a diamond being presented as a G VS1 only for it to be re-graded by a reputable diamond grader as a K I2. No qualified diamond grader could be that wrong!

Blatant misrepresentation of diamond grades and values through bogus documents or inflated grading practices in jewelry stores will devalue our most important product and end the reign of “King Diamond.”

Our industry and our future success depend specifically on ethical and straightforward representation of our products. We are an industry wholly based on consumer trust and we are expected to be ethical and expert. Our advice to the consumer must be accurate and honest — in all cases! At all times! Without exception!

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My mother was right. There are places one should not go or be seen if they intend to protect their reputation and preserve their integrity. The underworld of over-grading and misrepresentation of diamond grades is certainly one of those places jewelers must avoid if we are to preserve our industry and its credibility.

Jewelers, my friends and colleagues, step back from the edge! Please don’t jump!


Terry W. Chandler is president/CEO of Diamond Council of America. Contact him at [email protected].

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