Lessons Learned - Get it in Writing and Do it Yourself

How often have you heard that said? “Get something on paper to prove you did what you say you did.” Or “Make sure you can prove it’s yours”.

Well we knew all that of course, but we’d been dealing with this individual for a couple of years now and we’d never had any issues. He’s a jeweler. He did some repairs for us, set some stones in rings, and every so often took our items to an appraiser in Toronto (where he lives), thereby saving us the headache of fighting traffic at rush hour. We needed and appreciated his service and had a good business relationship going until one fateful day ...

My partner loves to buy antique and vintage ring settings for her marvelous collection of gemstones. She came across a beautiful art deco setting that already held a brilliant Ceylon Blue sapphire in its center. It had 2 smaller sapphires on either side, but as they weren’t in good condition, her plan was to remove those sapphires and set a large diamond on either side of that center sapphire.

For over a year she searched for just the right sized diamonds of high enough quality to warrant setting in that ring. It wasn’t easy to find what she wanted. Diamonds of top clarity and color with a carat weight of close to one carat are not cheap. In fact, they cost a small fortune. But after a year of searching, she located two glittering diamonds that were perfect for the ring. Trembling with excitement, when the jeweler next came to pick up some items for repair and appraisals, she handed him the ring setting and those very expensive diamonds.

When he brought back the package a few weeks later, she was out of town. I contacted her to let her know her rings and appraisals were back.

“What about my special ring?” she asked. “How does it look?”

It took a few seconds for me to go through the bag: the ring she wanted most wasn’t there! We didn’t panic right away. We just figured the appraiser hadn’t given him that one with the others. We contacted the jeweler. He was puzzled. He said “It all has to be there!” I assured him it wasn’t and described the ring we were looking for. Yes, he remembered setting the diamonds and taking it to the appraiser afterwards. He said he’d call the appraiser and get back to us.

Still not fully panicked, we waited. When he called, I broke a sweat. The appraiser said he’d never seen that ring nor appraised it. Worse yet, the jeweler had absolutely no idea where it was. He was turning his house upside down as we spoke, thinking it had fallen onto the floor or ...?

My now completely panicked partner was beside herself. Not only had this ring and its diamonds cost her the earth, but this had been a special pet project for her, a challenge. Surely it couldn’t be lost ... or possibly, stolen? If so, by whom? The jeweler? The appraiser? Someone to whom the jeweler had shown the ring? What had happened to it!

That was months ago now and to our horror, the ring did show up ... on the black market in Toronto! How did that happen? The jeweler claims no knowledge of how this could have occurred. He says he must have dropped it, lost it or someone stole it from him. But yet, as he re-traced his footsteps, made some inquiries, talked to people he deals with often, he located the ring. It had been damaged beyond repair. Someone had taken out those 1 carat diamonds (very valuable and desirable with the current high cost of large carat quality diamonds). Even the prongs holding the diamonds had been broken. The Ceylon sapphire was still in the ring and the “black marketer” was asking $2800 for the now damaged ring mount. Tears fell non-stop. There was only one conclusion: we’d been had.

That was months ago now and to our horror, the ring did show up ... on the black market in Toronto! How did that happen? The jeweler claims no knowledge of how this could have occurred. He says he must have dropped it, lost it or someone stole it from him. But yet, as he re-traced his footsteps, made some inquiries, talked to people he deals with often, he located the ring. It had been damaged beyond repair. Someone had taken out those 1 carat diamonds (very valuable and desirable with the current high cost of large carat quality diamonds). Even the prongs holding the diamonds had been broken. The Ceylon sapphire was still in the ring and the “black marketer” was asking $2800 for the now damaged ring mount. Tears fell non-stop. There was only one conclusion: we’d been had.

To this day, the jeweler professes his innocence and says he’s trying to find some way to compensate. But things are tough he says ... yadda yadda yadda. He can’t afford to pay my daughter’s cost on the ring and diamonds (over $6000) and can’t find high enough quality jewelry to replace her loss. And in my mind, I keep asking: how did he “lose” it? How did it end up on the “black market”. How did he know where to find it in the end? Things aren’t adding up at all.

So now, it’s back to the title of this blog: the first question asked of us by two personal friends, one of whom is a lawyer and the other a police-woman was “Do you have anything in writing that proves you even gave him the ring?” Well, no, we don’t. Why not? Because we’ve been doing this with him for a couple of years and never had to worry about that. “Then how can you prove, if you took this to small claims court, that you ever gave him the ring?” Well he doesn’t deny it for starters, and he told us where he found the very ring and has agreed to compensate us somehow. But of course, he can deny all of that in court can’t he!

We do have a couple of things to back up our position. For one, I was here when he took the items away in the first place so there is a witness. My husband and my partner’s boyfriend have both spoken with him and he’s told them what he told us i.e. admitted he’s at fault though he doesn’t know how it happened. I’ve been in touch with the appraiser and have it in writing that he never appraised or even saw the ring and he’s willing to support us if we take this further. And my lawyer friend says despite the lack of something in writing, chances are good we’d win this given all the details, as long as we can show photos, receipts etc for the purchase of the original ring and the diamonds.

The irony of it all is that we still cannot wrap our heads around the possibility that the jeweler has indeed done a dirty on us. He’s handled thousands of dollars worth of jewelry for us in the past, and never has there been a problem. Maybe indeed, he is innocent of wrong-doing. At this point, we are still hoping he’ll come up with a compensation plan of some kind. After all, if he doesn’t, and we don’t take him to court, my partner just threw away $6000 on a ring that would have appraised close to $30,000!

Lessons learned:

Get it in writing!

Do it yourself!

Viga Boland

Divine Find on Ruby Lane

Divine Find Jewelry Clearance Center on Ruby Plaza

 


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