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A good reason to own a microscope


#1

On this past Saturday I had a customer come in with a diamond that he
had purchased at a “diamond wholesaler” (I put this in quotes because
if he was a wholesaler he wouldn’t be selling to the public). It was
a 1.23 ct., G color, SI2 clarity stone accompanied by a GIA cert.
After discussing and deciding on the design for the stone, I decided
prudence was the better course and not to depend on the cert as being
the final word. I cleaned the stone up and stuck it under the
microscope. You know what? It was an SI2 stone, and without an actual
color grading being done, it looked like a G color, but it did not
match the plot of the stone in the cert. In the plot on the cert
there was a distinctive grouping of inclusions in the middle of the
table. In the stone there was one tiny pinpoint and all the
inclusions were around the sides and did not in any way resemble
placement or shape of the plot. I then measured the stone carefully
and found that there was also a slight (and I mean slight–although
bigger than any difference in tool calibration would account for)
difference in the dimensions.

Frankly, I think the guy got the same quality stone he thought he was
getting. Also, I honestly don’t believe that the seller (who he
immediately contacted and talked to) was aware of the problem. I have
a feeling someone, somewhere down the line had two stones the same
size, color and clarity and they accidentally switched them. So
what’s the problem? If I hadn’t checked and then the guy took it to
another jeweler later to confirm it was his stone, I could have been
accused of switching stones (regardless of the fact that they were
the same quality) since the stone in the ring wouldn’t be the one in
the cert. That would be the end of my reputation and could
conceivably cost me a small fortune in legal fees.

Now here’s why, if you’re going to be serious about dealing with
diamonds, you need a microscope. With my microscope, I was able to
blow the stone up to about 30X and show the guy that there was
absolutely nothing like what was in the plot in the stone. A layman
cannot discern that much using a hand held 10X loupe. Sure
experienced jewelers can do that, but I have never met an untrained
individual who could see a damn thing with the loupe (personally I
refuse to use them as well). So if you’re going to be in this
business, and you’re going to deal with the general public and their
stones you’d better be well prepared, and in my book that includes a
gem microscope.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#2
I have a feeling someone, somewhere down the line had two stones
the same size, color and clarity and they accidentally switched
them. 

There’s another, more sinister possibility. The guy who sold it to
the retailer had made counterfit copies of the cert to sell a few
diamonds he had that were of the same grade. Certed diamonds cost
more than non-certed ones, so he would have made a couple hundred
bucks more on those stones. Take a close look at the cert to see if
it has GIA’s hologram (one that actually works when you move it
around). With todays color printers and scanners, it wouldn’t be
hard to make a copy that would fool anyone who wasn’t familiar with
the real thing, such as a customer off the streets. Of course, you
could be right. One has to be careful when showing more than one
stone of a perticular grade that one doesn’t mix up the stones in
their papers. Another possibility, the dealer had another retailer
who was showing it to his customer drop ship it to the second
retailer. That other retailer could have had a couple similar stones
and he was responsible for the mixup.

David L. Huffman


#3

When I had my own store in the 80’s and 90’s we had a video
microscope combination, which allowed me to show the internals of
stones on a television monitor. Most customers really haven’t a clue
how to use a loupe (or often even a regular microscope), they are
just too embarrassed to admit it. I think that often "successful"
sales staff take advantage of this ignorance and embarrassment to
push their products. That microscope/video monitor let me show
distinctive identifying inclusions, damage, wear, etc. Helped sell a
lot of higher quality gemstones and avoid a lot of problems!


#4
Now here's why, if you're going to be serious about dealing with
diamonds, 

I sold a diamond once that came with an EGL cert, and when I looked
the diamond was lasered with a GIA number. It was certified twice,
and no, EGL did not catch the engraving. It was the right stone,
though.

http://www.donivanandmaggiora.com


#5
Most customers really haven't a clue how to use a loupe (or often
even a regular microscope), they are just too embarrassed to admit
it. I think that often "successful" sales staff take advantage of
this ignorance and embarrassment to push their products. 

Why would you expect a customer to even know what a loupe is?
Shouldn’t a customer expect honest and courteous treatment?

Most stones are passed along with each succeeding party relying on
the previous party. How many jewelers know how to grade diamonds.
Diamond dealers made deals on a handshake. That tradition may no
longer carry the weight it used to. Look at financial transactions of
today. Trust is not what it used to be. Caveat emptor.

If you’re the retailer you’re financially responsible.

KPK


#6

Hi David,

Take a close look at the cert to see if it has GIA's hologram (one
that actually works when you move it around). 

It was the first thing I looked at when I realized the discrepancy. I
took a very close look at the entire cert because, like you, I am
aware of this possibility. But the hologram was there and the rest
of the cert appeared to be the real thing as well. And yes the stone
could have been mixed up by a retailer as well as a dealer. Like I
said I think it was a legitimate error in terms of someone
accidentally switching stones, but then I haven’t heard back yet
for him.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
1780 Massachusetts Ave.
Cambridge, MA 02140
www.spirerjewelers.com


#7

Another good reason to own a microscope. I have a video camera on my
scope networked into our point-of-sale computer out in the showroom
and a monitor in the shop. Instead of having to explain why a stone
fell out, why it’s is loose, or why a prong is catching, I just crank
up the monitor, and look at it. Now I hear "Wow! Can you fix that?"
instead of having to get out the sketchbook, make drawings and
explain in terms that are hard for the uninitiated to follow, and
then explain what needs to be done to fix the problem. Even the most
inexperienced jewelry customer can easily see what the problem is and
what needs to be done.

The only downside is you must be ready, willing and able to show
your own work. If you show them what’s wrong under high
magnification, you better be able to repair it correctly and show
them what you did under high mag. An uneven bezel, pitted solder
joint or a poorly cut seat is obnoxiously obvious. You also can’t
"hide the inclusion under a prong" without disclosing it. I don’t
know for sure, but I think these are the reasons why most retail
stores avoid this technology. If you are proud of your work, and
willing to demonstrate and stand behind a diamond grade, this is a
great way to show just how good you are, what you are talking about
and just what your competition is doing (or not doing, as the case
may be). It’s also very handy for selling up clarity and many other
things.

If you can handle showing people what you do under 30X, go for it.
People get it and they love it!

Dave


#8
Take a close look at the cert to see if it has GIA's hologram (one
that actually works when you move it around) 

When Microsoft went to a hologram to assure authenticity of their
software products, it was moderately successful - it took over two
weeks for the Chinese to duplicate the hologram. Considering that
diamonds are worth much more than copies of Windows, it wouldn’t
surprise me to find that the GIA hologram has been reproduced.

Al Balmer
Sun City, AZ


#9

Dear Dave,

Although my experience is obviously far less than yours, I related
to your post on a slightly different level. I made lots of gifts for
my extended family for Christmas. I was working like a trouper,
designing, measuring, cutting, forging, soldering, hammering,
polishing and setting, etc and then hubby was photographing, packing
and mailing things that I’d made. They were in the mail before I had
chance to look at the photographs! When I finished them and handed
them to hubby, they looked perfectly polished and acceptable.
However, when I saw the macro shots he took of my jewellery I was
ashamed and embarrassed!!! To see how many scratches were left on
pieces that were in the mail was mortifying - but it only makes you
want to improve.

I was also advised by a good friend from Orchid, that when
polishing, polish to the point where it is perfect even when viewed
through the x10 loupe. I’m still working on that I’m afraid, but
hopefully I’ll get there at some point.

But I can see that having a microscope and monitor in your store is
actually a great selling point. And if it stands up to scrutiny at
such magnification, then it must look astoundingly good in the
flesh. A lesson to be learned for us all I think.

Helen
UK