Oops, I broke your tanzanite

Hello all, I recently broke a customers 1.14ct tanzanite. The gem
wasn’t very high quality. My plan was to contact the customer and
replace the gem with one of nicer quality, at my expense.

The customer has let me know that the stone was bought in Bermuda
while she was on vacation, visiting the island where she was born.
Because of this connection, she has informed me that the stone
carries a high sentimental value. She has insisted the I call the
retail jeweler (10 store chain) where she purchased the stone. This
way her sentimental attachment will remain intact, as the stone will
come from the same store on the island of her birth.

Keeping in mind the gem source is Africa, I am having a hard time
with this one. I have called the jewelry store in Bermuda. The
manager there thinks this is a peculiar request, and was a bit
amused. I feel I’m caught between a tanzanite and a hard place, and
will have to talk to the customer today.

Does anyone out there have any kind of release the customer signs,
that will absolve the jeweler from responsibility if the customers
gem breaks during setting?

I’ve been in the business for 30 years and thought I have seen it
all. The bottom line for me is to satisfy my customer, however this
one is hard to swallow.

Any opinions, feedback or general chatter on the subject will be
graciously received.

Happy setting,

Concerning release: Many envelope makes can put a statement: “In the
event of damage or loss, the enclosed item is valued at: $XX.XX”

Have it filled out first.

I’d buy the stone is it could be bought wholesale from the store. If
not, then this is what we always did:

A. Furnished a stone as good or better.
B. RECUT the old stone, smaller, and placed IT IN A PENDANT and gave
it to the customer. Assuming it could be done.
C. Assuming the job wasn’t large, didn’t charge them.

David Geller

Hi David

It’s a common practice to have a disclaimer printed on the bottom or
back of repair envelopes. I have also been in the business for over
30 years. One of the first things I learned as an apprenticeship was
the customer must sign the waiver before the job is accepted. I
haven’t been in the repair shop atmosphere for at least the past 10
years, so I don’t know what current repair envelopes have, but
probably most all the envelopes I’ve seen have the waiver as stock

Jeffrey Everett

David, ���
This is a hard one because you’d no doubt pay too much for the
replacement going through a retailer in Bermuda; yet honesty still
prevails, so I wouldn’t just substitute any other like quality
tanzanite and lead your customer to believe it came from that store.
It might be “bite the bullet” time.

Another possibility: ���
If the tanzanite is not too badly broken (like 1/4 of the stone
broken off) I could re-cut it for you with very little weight
loss…I can usually recover 85 to 97 % of the weight of the damaged
stone; depending of coarse, on the depth of the chip(s) and whether
or not the damage extends to table +/or the culet. The shape is
normally retained with some loss in dimensions. If there is major
damage to the stone I might recommend a new shape to recover the best
amount from the stone. ���

Email me off list (a photo of the damaged stone would help)
describing the damage and I’ll let you know approximate costs.

Paul D. Reilly
The Paul Reilly Company
4308 Driftwood Drive
Colorado Springs, Colorado� 80918
Phone: 719-598-9307�� Fax: 719-592-0794
Email: @Paul_D_Reilly1

We always give verbal warnings and back it up with writing on the
take in forms on tanzanites (along with a lot of other stones). If
you didn’t do this before you took the stone in then you are probably
stuck. My advice is that there’s no way to win this one. Just spend
the money and consider it a good lesson learned.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140


Sentimental value is a difficult subject. She could as well demand
you to pay her a ticket to Bermuda so she will have her emotions set
at ease.

Of course you need also pay for her husband, because he was there
holding her hand. Not to mention the lovely dinner at the beach.

There is no price on sentimental value as it lies with the person
and varies from one person to the other. So you can’t and shouldn’t
have to pay for that. Any insurer will state you that.

As you mentioned, the stone origin-ed from Africa and maybe you
could explain to the costumer that the jeweler in Bermuda will
replace the stone with one coming from the same source as where you
would get it from.

In the end it will be an entire different stone than the one she
had, so there can be no mention of restoring her sentiments. (Although
I can’t make up her mind)

Your offer sounds more than fair and she should accept it. Give her
the broken stone in a fancy box, so she will have something from her


I have had similar experiences after a robbery years ago, bottom
line there is no value for sentimental value, except in your
customers head. There are times when a little white lie works well.
(no we never tell white lies do we, sorry mam your ring isnt ready
today I had a really time consuming job before yours. Except we were
really reading orchid) If the manager is agreeable buy a stone have
your dealer send it to bermuda and then the manager can send it to
you. If she did not pay a fortune for the stone just give her the
money and tell her to take of it, the time and effort and phone
calls you would make would more than make up the difference. Whats
the old saying 80% of your problems are made by 10% of your
customers. Get rid of the problem.

Good luck
Bill Wismar


A 1.14 ct medium quality tanzanite in normal cuts should easily be
available for $200 or less. Breaking the stone is unfortunate, but
the customer should accept an equal stone to the broken one no
matter where it was bought.

Last time I checked there were no tanzanite mines in Bermuda.
That’s my 2 cents.

Regards, Steve Green Rough and Ready Gems www.briolettes.com
Briolettes in over 50 gem materials and precision ultrasonic drilling.

I agree with Bill- Get rid of the problem! If this customer is going
to act this way,#1- you’ve already lost them as a customer, #2- She
can’t force you to buy it from where she wants it to come from, and
#3- Anyone that she might tell about you, and they believe her, you
don’t want them as a customer either, and those who truly know what
kind of ‘%#*&@" she is, won’t listen to her anyway. So furnish her
an equal value stone from the source of your choice and tell her
’take it or leave it’. She’ll threaten and scream , but theres truly
nothing she can do about it, unless you harm her materially /
financially. Courts aren’t interested in sentiment. Ed

Courts aren’t interested in sentiment.

Which is exactly why they won’t care how sentimental you get when
the customer you didn’t warn about the possibility of breakage sues
the pants off of you and wins. If proper warnings were given it
wouldn’t be a problem. When a customer comes to you as a
professional they have (in the court’s eyes) the right to expect that
you will act as they thing a professional should.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG

Whats the old saying 80% of your problems are made by 10% of your
customers. Get rid of the problem. 

I dont quite understand how that “old saying” applies in a case such
as this. Maybe someone could enlighten me as to why I would disagree
with Bill.

As I see it, the stone was broken while in Davids possession. Now as
far as technical facts to where the stone is from and such seem
rather irrelevant in this. Of course the woman is mad, and no one
can blame her. Sentimental value on a recently purchased item seems
to be hard pressed. Especially one that isnt even from her country
of origin. Thats like telling someone who just totaled out your new
Saab convertible that its sentimental value to you cause you bought
it in the state of your birth. It just wont fly.

I will agree its not an easy or particularly fare situation David is
currently in, but to treat the customer as a problem and not work to
find a solution might come back to bite him in the future. If she is
causing this much trouble now, what do you think she will do if
David follows Bills advice? I would think she would be telling
everyone she can about her experience with him. And we all know that
her friends tell their friends and so on. Whats that expression "
Seven Degrees of Kevin Bacon". Before you know it Davids reputation
is on the rocks with many possible, or even current customers.

Maybe if David could invite the lady and her husband in for a
private meeting and have material ready as well as a certified
Gemologist to explain about the stone and its origins. Not trying to
convince them that its ridiculous to claim sentimental value , but
to point out its not really what she may have been lead to believe
it was. As she obviously believes its from her home land. Have a few
comparable samples ready to offer as replacements and throw in an
extra incentive. Maybe some matching Tanzanite ear rings or a free
toaster ( skip the toaster)

Oh, one thing that might be a big help is after explaining about the
gemstone and such, ask her what she would like to see done. Leave it
to her to suggest something. Then try negotiate if its a ridiculous
request. But I personally cant see any real negotiations taking
place that might benefit the parties involved unless all the facts
are on the table. Emotions and facts rarely mix well. But I believe
they can come to a compromise once in a blue moon.

Best of luck to you David.....
Daniel Hamilton
St Louis Mo

" This is only my humble opinion and is not to be taken as any hard
core or reliable advice"

 Whats the old saying 80% of your problems are made by 10% of your
customers. Get rid of the problem. 

This is not applicable in this particular situation. The customer
is not at fault here. The fault lies with the jeweler, either for
not properly notifying the customer of the problem or for breaking
the stone (even if it wasn’t purposeful or due to bad craftsmanship).

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

There is no price on sentimental value as it lies with the person
and varies from one person to the other. So you can't and
shouldn't have to pay for that. 

Ah, this is exactly the problem. While you shouldn’t have to pay
for this the reality is that if the customer is left miserably
unhappy because of the sentimental value you will lose not just her
as a customer, but all of her friends, and her friend’s friends. We
once had a ring mysteriously disappear from our shop that belonged
to a regular customer. She had inherited the ring from her aunt.
Her first childhood memory of any jewelry was seeing this ring on her
aunt’s finger. There was no way we could ever replace it, both
because of the unusual nature of the piece and the sentiment attached
to it. We talked to her in depth about it (one employee lost a job
over it), offered to duplicate it as best we could or we offered her
anything in the store that she wanted (anything!). She chose some
pieces from the store. To this day she is still a customer (as are
her children). Did it cost us a lot more than her ring? You bet.
Have we made it all back? You bet. Plus it was just the right thing
to do—something everyone should think about in these cases. After
all a customer came in and entrusted you with their treasure.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140

OK, I can’t shut up any more on this one. Simple question. Is it
worth the price of a Tanzanite, even at retail, to have an angry
customer blaring all over town that you are an incompetent, dishonest
retailer? That is what will happen if you don’t at least try your
darnedest to satisfy/appease her. In nearly 30 years of this, I have
made a bunch of mistakes, but I try to learn from them, not wiggle
out of them. And, the price of a tanzanite to quiet her will be
cheap compared to the advertising you will need to undo the damage
she can do. My rant, thank you. Jim

This thread has been all about the different ways to ‘handle’ the
customer. Why not just try and ‘be’ the customer? If you were in her
shoes, what would you want the jeweller to do so that you would walk
away being not only satisfied but impressed? She obviously wants to
keep the stone, so recut it and set it in something for free. And if
the ring itself is so important to her, offer to get another stone -
she might even contribute to the cost if she feels you have done your
best to retain her sentimental link. You have to make her feel
important and valued, but shattering her beliefs about whether the
tanzanite really came from where she thinks won’t do that.

Acrimonious dealings always have their own consequences, but
excellent and considerate service equally always has its own rewards.