Careful what you say
This final incident could best be described as blatant misrepresentation and possible fraud. This visit started like any other. I walked into the store and saw a prominent display of bridal jewellery described as featuring ideal-cut diamonds and stones that when viewed through a proportion scope, exhibited the hearts and arrows pattern. The first question I had for the salesperson was, “What’s the difference between the ideal-cuts and the premium hearts and arrows cut?” He informed me the ideal-cut stone has exceptional fire, brilliance, and scintillation. In contrast, the premium-cut is far more unique since, in addition to having an ideal-cut grade, you will be able to view the hearts and arrows pattern under a scope.
Unfortunately, what they described didn’t match what was in the showcase. Of the 10 stones I saw on display, most had a cut grade of very good, which was indicated on their gemmological reports. Further, the so-called ideal-cut stones had dimensions that would be considered deep-cut diamonds. Now along with the gemmological report, each stone also had a cut-grade analysis report. These showed a breakdown of the diamond’s fire, brilliance, and scintillation using a bar graph. Unfortunately, only one or two of the three keys elements on the cut-grade reports were marked ‘exceptional.’ As I continued to ask more detailed questions regarding how the analysis is done, why it is important, and how cut impacts a stone’s look, the salesperson invited the store manager to participate in our conversation. It’s at this point I feel the information provided could be considered fraud.
The store manager described to me Tolkowsky’s proportions and how the stones they had on display were cut to those parameters. Further, the manager told me about the uniqueness of the hearts and arrows-cut stones and invited me to view one of the diamonds under the proportion scope. As I got ready to do so, he let me know I should be able to view the eight arrows while the stone is facing up and the eight hearts when the stone is turned over. Was I disappointed! What I saw through the scope were six and a half broken arrows and possibly one heart. Rather than telling the manager I could not view the pattern he described, I confirmed I was able to see it. He then made a statement that convinced me he and the salesperson were deliberately manufacturing information and possibly representing their diamonds in a fraudulent way. The manager informed me the hearts and arrows diamond I was looking at was cut in the same factory as a very well-known branded stone with the same pattern. The obvious premium in price, he told me, was only due to the additional marketing costs of branding and advertising the stone to consumers. Fair enough, except for the fact their stone did not display the appropriate pattern and therefore, could not be considered hearts and arrows by any stretch.
I would love to say these are isolated incidents, but unfortunately, this type of misinformation happens every day in our industry and helps to erode consumer confidence. As I’ve pointed out in previous articles, the veil of secrecy on the inner workings of our industry has already been pulled away. Information that was once only available to the trade is now online for all to read. Jewellers must accept there is a better-than-average chance their customer will be well-informed about the product they are about to purchase. As such, sales staff should either be equally knowledgeable or be able to say, “I’m sorry. I don’t know the answer to your question, but I will certainly find out for you.”