Last week I had a young man come into the store to “check out” if the ring he bought on a cruise from Diamonds International was indeed what they claimed it was. Another jeweler had freaked him out by saying the center stone was not real (it was a tanzanite and diamond “halo” styled ring). After testing the stone and looking at it with a microscope (not a loupe), I determined it was genuine tanzanite.

What angered me were two things. First, a jeweler had given incorrect information because he hadn’t properly tested the ring. Second, the ring was only a month old and already, two diamonds had come out of the mounting. I let the customer view the ring under a microscope to see the poor setting and so he’d know that he may have many problems in the future. The prongs on the center stone were dangerously undercut, leaving a gap between contact with the center stone and the edges. Several more of the diamonds had almost no metal on them to hold them securely.

Tanzanite, (the mineral zoisite) is ALMOST always heat treated to produce its beautiful bluish violet to violet blue color. Heat treatment makes the stone brittle and subject to abrasions, chips and other possible damage. Because of that, tanzanite is not the best stone for every day wear in a ring!

He told me his wife wanted a ring she could wear every day. Another bubble burst when I recommended that the tanzanite shouldn’t be word daily unless his wife understood the risks involved (even then I would wear one only on special occasions).

He asked whether or not he got a good price (as everyone always does) and I asked him if he had a good time on the cruise. Puzzled, he asked why. I replied that we purchase jewelry for the emotional value as well as the monetary value and one is not exclusive of the other. He told me the ring was purchased on their honeymoon cruise. I looked at the “appraisal” he was given at purchase, which was handwritten, scrawled on a pre printed appraisal form (I noted that the cut of the stone was wrong). I assumed that everything on the paper was correctly stated (since I was not doing a full appraisal), and so I could tell him that based on that, he got what he paid for. He seemed disappointed but I replied “at least you got what you paid for”.

I think he was disappointed though, thinking that these factors made for a better value than buying locally:

  1. The purchase was duty free
  2. It was Cruise Ship Guaranteed (guaranteed against what?)
  3. The store was recommended by the Cruise ship line
  4. Because it was bought in the Caribbean, that he would get a screaming deal.

I normally do not like to be put into that position as a professional credentialed appraiser, but I took the time to explain the problems and possible solutions and what he could do to rectify the situation. I took photos and wrote down the potential problems, so he could then contact Diamonds International for a solution.

Why am I writing about this? I have this type of situation come in at least once a week (if not a cruise, then a public auction where jewelry is advertised as genuine, or from a TV commercial, or an Ebay deal). I decided to see just how much pressure happened on cruise ships and island diamond sales. Watch our video of our experience!

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