Back to Ganoksin | FAQ | Contact

Liability dilemma

I’m counting on your collective expertise out there. I have a
good longtime customer (nice, but extremely pickey) who has a 2
ct diamond I-3 clarity with a couple of fractures or feathers
that break the surface. It’s mounted in a 6 prong tiffany
setting, with one of the tips gone and the others thin. I
advised her to let me remount it ( before I looked at the stone
under the microscope). Now that I have seen the stone, I’m
pretty nervous about setting it, since, In my opinion the
fractures affect the durability of the stone. I am not insured
against stone breakage. Any advice? I’d hate to lose this
customer, but don’t want a potential lawsuit either.

Thank You!
Wendy Newman

Dear Wendy,

If the saying “honesty is the best policy” is anything to go by,
then perhaps the best way out here, would be to contact your
customer and explain the situation to her. Tell her that as she
is such a valuable, respected customer you decided it would be
wise to discuss your findings with her before risking to
undertake any work on her ring and that you feel that if you did
not expalin the situation to her, her trust and your
’friendship’ may be jeopardized. If she is nice (as you say),
she should understand. In the end though, it should be her risk,
not yours. Politely refuse if you think it is that risky, as a
final way out. What do you think ?

Good luck - Nick

Wendy, I’ve run into this before. FULLY inform your customer
of the possibility of the stone breaking, and the reasons for
this, and leave the choice to proceed or not up to them.
Helping them to understand the risks involved does not make you
look less professional. Besides, well informed customers are
amazingly understanding. Also, as a precaution, get their
agreement in writing before you attempt to set the stone. Here
in Los Angeles, many of the diamond setters have signs posted
throughout their shops declaring that they will not be liable
for stone breakage. Most of them aren’t insured, and its a
qualified risk.

Good luck,
Lisa Bialac-Jehle

hi wendy,

oooohhhhh, what a great topic. definintely something you should
ask a lawyer, since i’m not one and the advice i’m going to give
you should not be construed as legal advice.

be up front with the customer. tell her exactly what your
concerns are regarding her stone. you could ask her to sign a
liability waiver but that may not be enough to protect you in
the event of breakage and a lawsuit. if sued, you’d have to
prove that you exercised reasonable care. if breakage occurred
and if you were sued by the customer, it would be for
negligence, even though you exercised proper care and the
diamond was just an accident waiting to happen. unfortunately,
i’m certain the owner of the stone could find a (jewelry)
professional liason to make a declaration against you.

to my knowledge, the owner can purchase insurance for breakage
but we as jewelers performing work on jewelry can’t. though we
can for the gems we own and wear personally. be sure your
customer has such insurance (jewelers mutual has been good for
my personal stuff) but again, the insurance people may sue you
for negligence. a liability waiver may help in any case.
wording of this waiver should be left to a lawyer.

at any rate, be sure everything is in writing before (if) you

best regards,

geo fox

p.s. someone once said: ‘when in doubt, don’t.’


A couple of things you may try that will help easy your

First make sure you set the stone with the prongs falling on
flat facets and not on a junction where two planes intersect.

Second I have set many opals and after a few accidents have
learned a wonderful trick too keep me out of trouble.I cut the
seat in the normal way with a heart burr.Then I push over one
prong a very short distance.Then I push over the opposite prong a
very short distance.I do this with all prongs.Then I use my saw,
with a 0000 blade, I cut a small notch in the prong, laying the
saw blade on the diamond, this gives relief at the pressure point
and enables you to push the prong over with very little effort. I
do this in the same order I pushed over the prongs the first
time.Do not rush you will have to do this 2 or 3 times before the
prong is sitting tight on the stone but it will work out well.

             Best of luck


Wendy, There is risk in setting any stone, but knowledge and
experience are the keys. Over the past 35 years I haven’t been
covered by insurance. During this span, I set, at my risk, a GIA
cert. 2.07ct, D color, Internally flawless diamond in a platinum
ladies setting and bright cut an 8ct, J color , SI2 in a gents
ring. The customer who purchased the 2.07ct was an idiot for
mounting the stone for daily wear.20 Not everything goes as
planned… I had to replace two .25ct diamonds I damaged with
a foredom hammer and recut a 1.0ct emerald cut diamond, on which
I slivered a piece of the girdle. I did a bright cut illusion
setting gents ring for the emerald cut diamond and was cleaning
next to the girdle with a #36 flat H.S. graver. The graver
brushed the girdle which had an extremely small natural next to
one of the corners. The emerald cut cost me $137.00 for the
girdle polishing and .015ct weight loss. I have since replaced
the foredom with a GraverMate. You must consider the risk and
make your own decision. 20 I always cut my seats to match the
girdle line and roll the prongs over using a #4 6inch barrette
file. The file is held so that the index finger controls the
pressure. Do not apply any forward motion to the file, this
could cause damage to the stone. This procedure has worked well
for me on emeralds, opals and other stones that require caution
when setting.


Roger W. Kitchens

Bermuda Gold Home Page
My Personal Home Page

You have an oppurtunity here that is as good as the liability is
bad ! You can use this situation to sell your client on your
expertse and product knowledge. Be honest with your client,
invite him/her to look at the stone under the microscope. Point
out the concerns with the stone and the dangers involved. Don’t
be overly dramatic, you do want to make the sale…, but don’t
duck the hard issues either.

Every experienced goldsmith has broken an expensive stone at
sometime in his/her career. We are dealing with natural
materials, they are not always perfect or predictable. Once or
twice I have had a client sign a waiver stating that the risks
have been explained to them and that they agree that my shop is
not liable for any damage or loses resulting from the setting.
You will have to decide if this is required in your situation.

You are engaging your client in the decision making process. You
are giving them the knowledge they need to make an informed
choice. If you explain yourself in a professional manner, your
honesty will probably ensure your customer will remain loyal to
you, even if they choose not to do the remount!

Enough lecturing… If you do do take this one on consider
using platinum for the claws. It is soft and requires less
pressure to move it during setting. It tolerates very high
temperatures before melting, and is extremely durable in terms
of long term wearability. You may have to charge a bit more for
the work but it adds a slightly exotic touch for those customers
who are only familar with gold and silver.

Good Luck,

Doug Canivet @Douglas_Canivet

Lindsay, Ontario, Canada

Wendy, my advice for you is to talk to your customer and have her
come back in so you can show her the flaws in her stone. Then do
a drawing of where the flaws are just like a aprasial and have
her sign it. You can add to the dwr. that you will not be libel
for breakage, before she signs it. Then insist that the stone be
reset in a platinum head!!! Platinum is much easier to set and
the prongs do not have any memory to them so you can push them
down to the stones surface without having them spring back up .
This means you will not need to use the same amount of pressure
on the stone that you would with gold. the cost is more but not
only is it easer for you to set you wioll make more mo;ney for
the same job. I allways tell my customers thet platinum is twice
as dense as gold so it weighs twice as much and sense it is
twice as dense it realy resists wear two to three times better
then gold. so it is in the long run less expensive dur to the
lack of need to do as many repairs. I stoped using gold heads on
my jewelry about 23 years ago. I will not use gold!! I can not
ever remember losing a sale because I insisted on using platinum
to hold the stones. You will still be responsable for your skill
in setting the stone. you can not sigh off your responsability,
but you can lessen the chances of making a mistake. Usualy the
customer will understand the situation and be understanding if
something goes wrong if they know that you were up front with
them at the beginning. tip o setting – do the final beading of
the prong tips under the microscope. tip #2 always use your
microscope to check out all jewelry you take in for repairs with
the customer there you can find many more repairs that need to
be done and show the customer on the spot the problems. you will
increase your rapair business 3 fold, while doing your customers
a service at the same time. It also looks very perfessional and
will elimate the problem you are now dealing with.



Vernon, Thanks for your reply to my problem. (gee, I could of
just called you ).I also use platinum heads pretty much
exclusively, they sure make the job turn out better! I like your
idea about mapping the stone. I will do that when I write up the
waiver. Thank You, Wendy

Hi Wendy!

I passed, sight unseen, on the chance to set a large (1 ct+)
diamond, just for that reason. Granted, to some folks on this
list, that may not be large, but it was awfully scary to me just
to consider breaking it or losing it or being robbed. Not that
I normally worry about such things, but in this case I think I
was better off being smart rather than sorry.

If you can’t do it with a high degree of confidence, you might
want to pass. Think of Mr. Ward’s predicament… what if her
insurance company got involved?!? Yipes!

Just my $.02,


Dave Sebaste
Sebaste Studio
Charlotte, NC (USA)

Reguardless of the liability, set the diamond in a 6 prong
platinum head. It wears so much longer you won’t have to re-tip
or prong for a long long time. I’ve seen many wedding sets,
manufactured before platinum became a strategic and controlled
metal in WWII, that are just now starting to need to be retipped.
Amazing metal!

Stephen Bargsten

P.S. Be Carefull ! ; )

Hi Wendy - my procedure in this type of dilemna is to actually
have my customer sign a disclaimer absolving me of
responsibility. I know this seems like a bad sales technique,
but your client should realize that you are the pro and know
what you’re doing. Advise her of her options - ie. retipping as
opposed to resetting, etc., keeping in mind that the heat from
tipping could break the stone further as well. There is
absolutely no way that I work on these type of stones without a
signed document absolving me of responsibility. Good luck, Mike


The I 3 stone is probably worth about 1300/ct wholesale. I
started cutting and repairing and a friend of mine (jeweler) gave
me a chipped ametrine to recut. I had to recut the corner facets
on the crown of this 14x16 emerald cut — was trying to just
shave them and not have to recut the rest of the crown. Of
course, as I lowered the angels to about 18 degrees and started
to polish the stone fractured!!! I went ahead and did the
opposite corner and it did it again!!! I’ve never seen something
like that before with quartz. Moral of the story — if you are
going to reset a stone like this get a release of liability and
explain it to the client before you start — I learned that one
the hard way — glad it was the first stone I did for someone, I
learned my lesson! won’t ever start on one unless people know
there is a risk and sign the release. There is a happy ending.
The jeweler’s customer gave him a bad check!! So he decided to
let the matter drop, hasn’t heard from the customer, isn’t going
to worry. I am working on a similar ametrine which I am going to
give him. You might do well to find a setter who is most
experienced with this kind of thing and get the customer to let
you send it to him for setting after explaining the problem.
You can help the customer out and maybe even charge a commision
as you sub the work out. Explain to the customer what the problem
is and tell her (him?) that diamond setting is so specialized
that some setters don’t even know how to solder (this is true),
they just set all day. Some channel setters don’t do anything
else — their expertise is very narrow.

The other thing I would say is that some diamonds have feathers
that never enlarge. It depends on how big they are and where
they are and in what direction they go what the risk is as you
set. If the feathers come out in the pavilion and you are
setting against the crown, probably minimal risk. If they are
small and in the table, maybe not near the prong you are setting,
again, maybe not a problem. If they are under the crown breaks
(that’s where you want to put them, right?) and you can put the
prings down somewhere else but over them, maybe also not a
problem. Also , if prong is perpendicular to feather, might tend
to shear the diamond off. If parallel to the prong, much less
dangerous, I think. But a diamond setter could advise you
better. HTH.

Wendy: I know the stone. I have set a couple of incredably
included diamonds before and the nerves can kill you. But as
everyone says, let the customer know the risk.It really is better
that she is a little put out by you not setting her stone then
how mad she will be if you cleave that sucker in two. Remember
though that that stone has endured cutting and the wear for as
long as it has taken to wear the prongs down. It will most
likely take the setting ok. Platinum Head. Saw between prong and
stone to ensure even pressure. Good luck

Michael Mathews Victoria, Texas USA

Hi Wendy: I don’t know what size your stone was, I missed that
part, but I would try to replace it, if it had a fracture, there
is probably another out there who something of equal quality for
an not such an outrageous price. I purchased a stone on an
interenet auction advertised as 1.30 Flawless stone w/tiny chip,
when I got it , it was at best an I-3 and Color J, and the tiny
chip was used, unfortanately I learned a hard lesson and I did
ask all the right questions, anyway I had the stone recut it is
now a .77ct , I was shocked I lost so much weight, and it is
Color J, I-1/2, i have 1300.00 into it with the recut and I want
out. I understand the honest approach, but all of a sudden that
poor quality stone turns into the hope diamond. I do believe in
total honesty when selling a stone to anyone. Also someone wrote
to me who carries stones if he would right back I lost his e-mail
and would like to ask him a question. Sincerely Chris All That
Glitters We update Weekly!


I don’t think anyone is insured for stone breakage, I have
inquired and it seems not to be available. I would clearly warn
the customer of the risk. But If you proceed with caution and
treat the diamond like it was an emerald, you should have no
problem. I only do work for jewelers and will state clearly all
risks involved, I will also state that I have total confidence
that I won’t have a problem, but freak things can happen and if
it does I am NOT buying you a new diamond. If you are really
worrried, don’t do it. You don’t have to do everything that comes
into your shop. Sometimes its better to say no thank you. That
said, I think you should go for it.

Mark P.