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Stone setter chipped clients sapphire


#1

Hello,

I’m facing an issue with a stone setter I had set a client’s
sapphire. The sapphire is the main part of the piece that was
handpicked for the design.

My question is, what do you do in this situation? Is it the setter’s
responsibility? Would he be liable for the stone? My client will be
extremely angry, but the setter doesn’t seem to think this is any of
his business.

How do you avoid situations like this? Is there a procedure to go
about having outside contractors doing work for you, and preventing
them from damaging inventory?

Thank you in advance for your input and advice.

Lana


#2

What liability provision is in your contract with the setter? That
decides tat part.

John


#3
My question is, what do you do in this situation? Is it the
setter's responsibility? Would he be liable for the stone? My
client will be extremely angry, but the setter doesn't seem to
think this is any of his business. 

There are several aspects to this.

First, despite all the skills and training, stone setting, even
diamond setting, is never going to be absolutely 100 percent risk
free. Stones chip and break, sometimes through neglegence of error or
poor judgement or whatever, but sometimes simply because what seemed
to be the best approach wasn’t. Some stones, may have hidden risks or
features the stone setter may not be aware of. Yes, in a perfect
world, we’d always notice everything about a stone, make all the
right moves, and never make mistakes. But mistakes do indeed happen
to the best of us. (well, maybe not Leonid or Gerry. But the rest of
us… (grin)) Any stone setting who tells you there is never any risk
and they never have problems, is probably not quite being totally
honest with him or herself (though some folks get close, I’ll admit)

So anyway. There’s always a risk.

Second, how much are you paying the guy to set this stone? He didn’t
sell it, so he makes no profit based on the sales value. And often
the labor charge to set the stone is many times less than the value
of a fine gem. Lets say it’s a five thousand dollar sapphire. And the
guy is going to charge you fifty or a hundred bucks to set it (and
many setters might charge a good deal less for simpler jobs, yet the
risk is still there). Should he/she really be expected to shoulder
the whole risk of the value of the whole stone for a small fee?

Well, perhaps. It all depends. Some setters will carry insurance
against such losses, but many others might not. Some setters will
cover damage up to a certain limit, and after that, it’s on you. Or
perhaps they’re willing to pay for recutting/repolishing of a minor
chip.

The answer to your questions is simple.

This is the wrong time to be asking these questions.

You should have worked out these liability issues before giving the
setter the job. Never assume anything here, as some shops or setters
will be able to insure or cover such losses, and others won’t. For
those that won’t, you’d then need to see that your own insurance
covered such a possible loss.

In my own case, just as an example, I do a little side work for
fellow local artists, including some setting work. I do not have
liability insurance covering broken stones, and generally have
limited ability to self insure. So I make sure clients bringing me
work understand that I limit my liability to no more than 100
dollars. If they aren’t happy with that, they can find someone else.
If I chip a stone, I might already have a replacement they’ll accept,
and if I do, that’s an easy way to deal with it, especially with
smaller stones. Or, I would usually be willing to cover the cost of
recutting a chipped stone. but as I said, my maximum liability limit
is 100. And for jobs where I’m unsure whether I can do it safely, I
may only be willing to take the job on condition the customer assumes
all risk from any cause. And while such accidents hopefully are not
common, everyone still needs to understand the terms beforehand.

The appropriate time to have these discussions and make sure
everyone knows who’s liable for what, is before the job is started.
And with anything of significant value, consider a written signed
statement of either who’s liable, or who waives holding the setter
responsible, or what. In writing is the safest… In cases where the
stone already belongs to a customer, and you’re only making the
setting, it’s not uncommon to ask the customer, the owner of the
stone, to assume some or all of the risk.

Hope that helps. Sorry for the situation you’re in though…

Peter Rowe


#4
My question is, what do you do in this situation? Is it the
setter's responsibility? Would he be liable for the stone? My
client will be extremely angry, but the setter doesn't seem to
think this is any of his business. 

This is an unusual situation, because a sapphire is a tough stone to
chip. My first question would be is the stone actually a sapphire?
My second question - what kind of fracture do we observe ? If stone
is a sapphire, and has a fracture common in this cases, the third
question would be - who in the shop is responsible for examining
stones? Is that a shop practice, for a setter to take his time to
examine the stone, or not ? What type of setting was it ? is also an
important question. And if you do not mind, what was the setter paid
for the setting?

These are all pertinence questions, before your inquiry can be
tackled.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#5

The jewellers that teach me, and the setters I’ve spoken to, it’s
the opinion that it’s the setters responsibility.

Here in Australia, setters earn a good living, and if they break
something they fix it or replace it, it goes with the territory.

Regards Charles A.


#6

Hello Lana,

Here in Belgium, the setter NEVER takes the responsibility of a
damaged stone during his work EXCEPT when the stone is provided by
himself. These kind of problems need to be sorted out before you make
business with any setter. Make a big sign for yourself and place it
in your shop, read it every day and this will prefend you for making
a second mistake of this kind. Fact is, nobody can prove that a
qualified stone is provided to a surtain setter and therefore he can
not cover the full responsibility for that stone. If someone provides
a setter stones, then that person needs to be aware of the “hidden
danger” and the setter can only do his work. However… this problem
should have been cleared by taking the invoice but between the setter
and you AND also between the jeweller and his customer.

I’m afraid that you have to sort it out yourself if this setter is
not willing to do something. Sure is that you have to come up with a
honnest deal. It is up to you now to prove the value of that damaged
stone in order to keep your customer happy. Maybe you’re able to talk
this setter into a good deal like setting the next stone for a lower
price. Maybe you can have that stone recut into a smaller stone and
sell it that way covering your loss if possible.

Next time you better talk with a setter about this kind of
situations and how to clear it out when this happends. Mention also
that the stone you provide is the stone which will be set and no
others ones!!! Believe me, it happends. Make small notes with
pictures of the stones or drawings and do this together with your
customer. Never ever mention about a type of stones (ruby, sapphire,
emerald etc) if you’re not 100 percent sure about it. If you do, you
have to cover for what you estated for. Give the item a name like
round redisch stone with black inclusions, greenisch oval stone with
imperfect surface. Count the number of stones or pearls,measure the
size, be specific. Mark the inclusions on the drawing together with
your best description of the stone i.e. pearl, and give your customer
a copy. Keep yours (the original) for yourself in case of, you never
know.

Do yourself a favour and make that sign I’ve written about earlier
and most of all, be honnest to your customers and to yourself.

Wishing you the very best and I hope that everything will turn out
well for everybody.

Enjoy and have fun
Pedro


#7

If the stone had an inclusion or previous damage, I know what my
policy is… I will set it at CUSTOMER’S RISK ONLY. And further more
ANY fragile stone such as Tanzanite opal emerald, etc. I will set
ONLY at customer’s risk. Now if I supply the stones for any piece and
I damage the stone, I replace it at my cost. This policy is stated
clearly on all my price lists and I know of many other manufacturers
that carry the same policy.

Next time check with the service provider prior to having the work
done or make prior arrangements but if this was the case with this
stone, I feel that the stone setter is not responsible unless you can
prove carelessness.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance is now offering a Workmanship policy to
cover breakage or damage to customers jewelry in the event that
something does happen and I have it. It comes with a $1000 deductable
and it relatively inexpensive and is added to your regular policy. By
the way, make sure you tell the customer immediately what happened!

Good luck! Steve Cowan,
Arista Designs


#8

When I used to do contract setting work, I replaced any stone I
damaged unless I notified the client in advance that there was a
significant risk of damage either to the nature of the stone or the
type of setting. You wouldn’t believe the kinds of craziness I got
away with, like setting tanzanite in heavy white gold bezels,
channel setting emeralds, all kinds of stupidity. I used to tell
them, “this is not a good idea and I won’t take the risk of the stone
getting damaged. That said, it’s less likely that I’ll ruin it than
you will if you do it yourself so it’s your call.” In my policy
statement, I also declined to accept responsibility for stones that
had undisclosed treatments such as opticon filled emeralds, glass
filled rubies, excessively heated stones, etc. If you don’t know what
you’re sending me, I’ll do what I can do determine what I’m working
with but ultimately, I can’t be a psychic so it’s on your dime.

I’m afraid that if the setter didn’t have a stated policy on this
matter (as I did, in writing), it’s going to be between you and
him/her to settle the matter. If you’re sending this person a lot of
work, he/she may find it worthwhile to cover it and keep a client
happy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they didn’t.

David L. Huffman


#9
How do you avoid situations like this? Is there a procedure to go
about having outside contractors doing work for you, and
preventing them from damaging inventory? 

There are trade shop that are insured. There is guy, Chuck Koehler,
who writes a column for the Mid America Jewelry News. He has a trade
shop and you can call him and find about his policy on gemstone
breakage. His specialty is fast turn around custom and repair. You
can call him at 615-354-6361.

Chuck has a very humorous view of the problems we all have in the
jewelry business and especially with customers and their attitudes.
You can check out Mid America Jewelry News at
http://www.ganoksin.com/gnkurl/k2

You can read past columns of Chucks by going to columnists and
selecting his name. David Gellar also writes columns for this
publication, and Brad Simon does also. My opinion is since sapphire
is one of the toughest gems, they are us= ually not easy to break.
Scratch or chip possibly, but a skilled setter should be able to
avoid problems. Find out setters policy toward gem damage prior to
using the setter…

Richard Hart G.G.
Denver, Co.


#10

Lana My answer for this situation is very simple, get him to pay for
the re-cutting of that stone. He broke it, end of story! If he
refuses, change your setter immediately and not pay him for his
setting fee. I would get that stone re-cut a.s.a.p…

Gerry, who is still a diamond setter! BTW, how in blazes did he chip
a Moh’s hardness of 9+ sapphire?..:


#11
My question is, what do you do in this situation? Is it the
setter's responsibility? Would he be liable for the stone? My
client will be extremely angry, but the setter doesn't seem to
think this is any of his business. 

Don’t know if I missed Lana’s post yesterday or if it’s just dated
funny. That’s always a tricky situation. We have a sign prominently
posted: “Not responsible for colored stone breakage, customer’s
risk” - more words than that, but that’s what it says. We’ve been
told that it’s a start but it wouldn’t necessarily hold up in court
if it came to that. I broke a customer’s garnet last month and
replaced it myself for $300 - that’s WITH that sign. That’s because I
broke it - meaning I had a cold and was tired and I made a mistake. I
shouldn’t have even started the job, but I wanted to make progress.

First off, Lana says it’s chipped - that’s no biggie, just repolish
it. That would cost me $35 around the corner, here. Broken in half
is something else again. The customer needs to understand that
humans are human and stonesetting has an inherent risk, first of
all. That doesn’t excuse workers’ mistakes, it just means that
crucifying people for them is not permitted. And if your setter
"doesn’t seem to think this is any of his business." then you need
to find another setter. Whether he’s liable or not, he needs to deal
with you about it.


#12

If I were in your situation (who me? Never happen! :wink: ) this is how
I would probably look at it. If it is just a small chip in the
girdle, recutting would probably be your best course of action. The
only real reasons to replace it would be if it has a fracture through
the stone, if the chip is large enough that recutting it will change
the shape, weight and/or appearance of the stone significantly or if
it will cost more to recut than to replace.

Unless the setter told you up-front that there were extenuating
circumstances or extraordinary risk in the setting of that stone,
and you told him to go ahead anyway, it is the stone setter’s
responsibility to take care of this for you. If he did give you
notice that this was a risky setting job, then he probably should
still help you figure things out, but he shouldn’t have total
financial responsibility.

Even the finest stone setters in the world occasionally damage
stones, that’s just a part of the business. So I’m not sure that
there is anything you could have done or that you could do in the
future that would completely prevent something like this from
happening. It is the setter’s reaction that gives me more cause for
concern. If this isn’t any of his business, then what exactly IS his
business?

How do you prevent the same kind of thing from happening in the
future? Find a more professional trade shop, ask them what happens if
something gets damaged while in their care, get references (any
decent shop will have many references) and call them.

Wish I had a little better advice for you. That’s a tough spot to be
in, but the good news is that there is more than a little room for a
positive outcome here. In my experience, your customer will more
likely be disappointed or bummed out, but probably not “extremely
angry” unless you set her up to react that way. These things happen.
Most people understand that and are quite reasonable if you assure
them that it will be taken care of in the same sentence as you give
them the bad news, and if you don’t make a huge deal out of it. How
you handle it with your customer is likely going to be the single
most important thing in determining whether this ends up with her
having a negative or positive feeling about the whole thing. This is
your chance to shine. Anybody can do this when everything works
perfectly, but you find out exactly what you’re made of when things
like this happen. Keep your cool on both fronts and do your best to
be professional. If the setter is a professional, he’ll help you out
in any way he can. If he’s not, well, at least now you know.

Dave Phelps


#13

Spoke to some other setters today, and these setters either make an
arrangement, or have insurance. I guess it depends :-\ CIA


#14
Gerry, who is still a diamond setter! BTW, how in blazes did he
chip a Moh's hardness of 9+ sapphire?..: 

Gerry, Sapphire is 9. Not 9+. It’s the defining mineral for mohs 9.
And remember that the scale is not linear. Diamond is, by some ways
of measuring, some 40 times harder than sapphire.

But that’s not the point here. I mean by that, hardness is not the
point. Toughness is. Hardness tells you the risk of scratching the
stone with, say, various abrasives or tools or other stones. But
chipping is a matter of toughness.

And for the record, though corundum (ruby and sapphire) are fairly
tough, they are much less so than diamonds (which themselves can be
chipped if you get them just wrong, as you no doubt know). Sapphires,
especially heat treated ones (virtually all of them) can actually be
a little brittle. And if the stone happened to have a thin girdle…
If you do everything right, you’ll generally be fine setting them.
But they give you a lot less room for slips and mistakes than do
diamonds. Slip with a graver raising beads? Your diamond will
usually be fine and your graver dulled. Do that with sapphire, and as
often as not, you’ll chip the sapphire too. Same thing if you get
just a little too aggressive trying to move harder white gold bezels
with a hammer handpiece. It shouldn’t happen, of course, if you’re
doing it right, but please don’t be surprised that it can, and does,
happen now and then, to almost all of us (you and Leonid, of course,
excepted… (grin))

:slight_smile:

Peter.


#15
The jewellers that teach me, and the setters I've spoken to, it's
the opinion that it's the setters responsibility. Here in
Australia, setters earn a good living, and if they break something
they fix it or replace it, it goes with the territory. 

I am probably the last person on planet Earth, who would defend a
setter breaking the stone. But I am also, very well acquainted with
USA shop practices.

First, whoever buys stones, do not give a second thought to the
quality. Price rules everything, and they will haggle gem dealer to
death, just to knock of a few pennies per carat. Well any dealer
always have stock to accommodate such buyers. After all, we always
getting, what we pay for.

The second part of the equation is after bringing so called
gemstones to setter, another haggling rounds begins. You probably
would not believe me, if I listed some prices for setting, on what
called as commercial grade.

I would concur with stated opinion if stone would anything else but
a sapphire. I takes either an extremely incompetent setter, or
exceptionally crappy stone. My money is on the second option.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#16

IIRC, the law used to be that a stone setter was not liable for
damage to a stone…in the absence of gross negligence (doing
something REALLY stupid). The reasoning was that the stone setter
got paid so little in relation to the value of the stone, that the
setter could not “assume” the risk of damage because of the high
value of the stone.

It was 40 years ago that I researched this so I am not sure if this
has changed today. That is the way the case law was then…anyone
know if it is different today. And I’m only talking about the legal
liability, to the ethics of who should be pay…Teddy


#17
My question is, what do you do in this situation? Is it the
setter's responsibility? Would he be liable for the stone? My
client will be extremely angry, but the setter doesn't seem to
think this is any of his business. 

In the little jewellery world I grew up in the setter was
responsible without prior warnings of danger to a clients stone. If I
was scared shitless with no release I’d just refuse the job. My stone,
my problem and I’d buy two if possible, I build up my stone
collection most days.

That said I know far too many ways to damage stones, saphires and
diamonds are pretty hard to break but I am trained :-). Emeralds and
other soft stones (a long list) are something to really respect.

I also tend to like 14K even the nickel white ones with a good
amount of metal securing the stones. Maybe I’m just a slow learner or
damned plain stubborn :slight_smile:

jeffD
Demand Designs
Analog/Digital Modelling & Goldsmithing
http://www.gmavt.net/~jdemand


#18
Is it the setter's responsibility? Would he be liable for the
stone? 

This is one of those difficult things that needs to be worked out in
advance. A wise old retail jeweler client of mine once said (after I
had damaged a stone and was working it out with him)…

“He who is making the lions share of the profit should take the
lions share of the risk.”

I loved that and have used it many times since when discussing what
happens if I damage a stone. Typically I will offer to replace it,
usually my longterm clients want to share the cost in some way. Like
I pay for the recut and we split the weight loss. Thankfully it very
seldom happens.

Mark


#19

I just wanted to thank everyone for their kind input. I’ve been
reading all of the threads here, and I’m very grateful for a resource
such as Ganoksin.


#20
And for the record, though corundum (ruby and sapphire) are fairly
tough, they are much less so than diamonds 

Peter, you surprised me. Corundum is one of the toughest stones
around, if it’s corundum. What you may get sometimes is heavily
fractured crystal, which was baked with glass. These babies crumble
if you spit on them.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com