Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Diamond Cert Rant #1

“I’ve had all I can stands, and I can’t stands no more!”  (Pass the spinach.)

The level of integrity in this industry that I love has sunk to a new low.  Deceptive diamond certificates are not only annoying; they’re illegal.  We’ve been duped into thinking that a dishonest diamond cert is nothing but a “more generous opinion” and rightly deserves a bit of a discount.  The fact is that while diamond grading is indeed subjective, gem labs should only ever differ by extremely slight margins; and the top ones do.

What do you think would happen to a Chevy dealer who sells brand new 2011 Cameros, based on the claim that they come with a 1000 horsepower?  Anyone can check their website to find-out that new Cameros have 312, 400 or 426hp.  Jewellery clients don’t have that option; they can only rely on the integrity of their retailer. 

While I’m currently a lowly sales-rep, I used to be a retailer.  I know what it’s like to want the best quality diamond for the lowest price.  I still want that for my wholesale clients.  I know what it’s like to receive a diamond that a customer has eagerly awaited; only to recognize that it doesn’t live-up to the reported quality.  Sometimes it’s just easier to make the sale, and hope the truth is never discovered; after-all you’ve got the paperwork in your hand to support the deception.

Whenever clients refer to jewellery that they bought from someone other than me we refer to it as “Brand-X”.  In the past two weeks I’ve been shown diamonds that two retailers have purchased from Brand X.  One dealer had doubts about the reported quality and the other boasted about the spectacular bargain they got.  These diamonds came with “Burger King” certificates (…have it YOUR way – for those of you who are too young to recall the famous ads.)  Having been a Fellow of the Canadian Gemological Association, and having purchased diamonds as a wholesaler and retailer since 1987, I can recognize a diamond whose color is in the latter half of the alphabet, and I know the difference between SI2 and I2.  Some of the diamonds I’ve seen are not a single color or clarity grade out; they’re 4-7 color grades and 1-2 clarity levels below their certs.  These deserve more than a small discount; they deserve a prison sentence.

Have you ever said to a supplier, “Okay, so sometimes Brand-X diamonds don’t live up to the paperwork, but your diamonds are more expensive”?  Huh?  Think about what you just said!  You’ve just said, “these people regularly screw us, but mostly we just put up with it so that our clients can feel that they’re getting a great deal.”  In this case, you are complicit in the fraud.

Here’s the reality.  The people writing these Burger King certs know that what they’re claiming is bogus because they’re being paid to do so.  The diamond producers and/or dealers that pay for these certs know that they’re paying for misinformation – after-all could they be diamond dealers if they didn’t know the difference between an H and an L color?

Guess who has to answer to the consumer if and when the truth is revealed?  It’s the retailer.  If 5 or 6 of retail clients separately discovered that you’ve sold them inferior diamonds, they’ll get together and make sure everyone in your city or town knows what a crook you are.  You’ll be out of business in no time.  Even if you only had a faint inkling that you had sold diamonds inferior to their certs, you’d well-deserve to be black-listed.

Why isn’t this happening on the wholesale side?  There are certain names that come-up over and over and over again.  Why do they still exist?  Because we drink the Kool-aid.  We want to believe their lies.  We eagerly claim the vindication offered by the fraudulent paperwork.

If you have product in your store from someone whose integrity is in question, send a couple of these diamonds to a trusted gem-lab.  Make sure they are micro-engraved so that nobody can say it’s not the same diamond and make sure they are unset.  Tell other jewelers about your results, good, bad or ugly.  Prove me wrong, or prove them fraudulent.  It’s a small price to pay in order to stand-up for your clients, and ensure your clients receive what they pay for.

My hope is that after reading this letter, less retailers will be tempted to fool themselves.  The responsibility is yours to support dealers with integrity and cut-off ones without.  If a company consistently displays a lack of integrity in their grading, what else aren’t they telling you?  Let’s clean up the industry.  A lack of integrity is a lack of integrity.  Period.  Dump them now and forever.

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