The bad news


Had a young guy want a ring re-sized for his fiance. Not a problem
for me BUT!

It was his grand mother’s engagement ring, gold and diamonds.

Guessed it yet?

Granny was full of it, she was a full blown liar.

It was gold plated sterling and had fineness mark 925 and makers
mark Envy.

Well made ring and all that, stones who knows.

I sent him to a master jeweller rather than tell him the stones were
not diamonds.

Coward’s way out or not wishing to tell the bad news?

I have told ladies what their jewellery actually is in the past and
as gently as possible.

Their reactions have range from extreme distress to “WTF I will kill
the bastard!”. Presumably the ex who had waxed lyrical about the
value of the ring and stones. Also had the opposite, “Madam that is
not a funny looking stone in silver it is a very good Parti sapphire
in platinum.”

So what would you tell a guy in his early twenties in front of his
fiance who thought it was the real deal?

Make no mistake I can be a heartless bastard, especially when buying
gems from retired jewellers. Starting offer 30% of wholesale price
never got past 50% of wholesale before they sell. No one outside the
trade wants gemstones unset, or so it seems.

But could not tell this young guy he had a pretty piece of costume


Richard- I always tell them. I try to be as gentle as possible.

Years ago when I was working on Pawn Shop Row here in Portland a man
came into our shop and had us make a pair of gold and CZ earrings.
This was when CZs had just hit the market.

He picked them up on a Friday.

Monday morning a rather “striking” looking woman came into the shop
wanting to sell a pair of diamond earrings. You can guess the rest.

Her first comment was “Damn it! I gave that M**********r the best
weekend of his life!” She went on at some length.

True story. I was there to witness the verbal explosion. It was all
we could do to not laugh in front of her.

Have fun and make lots of jewelry.

Jo Haemer

I know what you are talking about, i inherited a beautiful garnet
bracelet and a garnet broach from my mother, this great tale of how
it passed through the generations. Long story short it was glass
over minute amount of garnet, the doublets were beautiful but zero
value. Better to have a master jeweler tell you than someone else
when trying to sell. blessings, pat

It doesn’t sound like Grandma was full of it, more like GRANDPA was
full of it!

While I don’t think you did anything wrong, or even that you acted
cowardly at all, I do think you have a responsibility to say
something, Richard. A responsibility to yourself, if not necessarily
to them. Obviously, you can’t be your normal, tactless, heartless and
brutally honest self ;-), you have to be very gentle and find out
first what their sentimental attachment to it is. If they value it
highly and you don’t say anything about its intrinsic value, when
they do find out that it’s worthless dollar-wise, imagine who they
will remember was the last jeweler to look at it. “Why didn’t Richard
say anything? Could he be the one that switched the stones?” Wouldn’t
be the first time that a little white omission of fact based on
avoiding hurt feelings turned into an ugly mess.

Before you say a word about it, good or bad, ask them to tell you
about it. If they aren’t sure that it really is what it is supposed
to be, they’ll ask you. If they are convinced it’s a valuable
heirloom, they’ll tell you that. That should be a siren and flashing
light moment for you and if you don’t handle it properly, it can come
back to bite.

Whatever you do in a situation like this, DON’T EVER take it out of
their sight for even the time it takes to turn around and pick up a
loupe, not even to clean it. If it must be cleaned to be identified,
invite them back in the shop to let them watch, and let them carry
it. A lot of jewelry-uninitiated people think (no, they actually
know) that we can do magic when it comes to switching stones, mainly
because they have been led to believe that we all do it all the time.
We currently have a media that is all too willing to perpetuate any
such myth if it means a good story line for the next edition, so
they’ll be able to find plenty of horror stories and “facts” from
what they will consider to be very credible sources to back up and
bolster any suspicion, however unwarranted.

Instead of saying something like “sorry, this is glass and brass”,
emphasize that “it was well loved, and the fact that it’s not genuine
doesn’t affect the value Granny put on it at all. All it really means
is that you won’t be able to sell it for a lot. But you wouldn’t sell
it anyway, so its market value is all but meaningless.”

If they don’t know it’s costume, they’ll immediately ask “what do
you mean ‘not genuine’?” Now the door is open for you to tell them
what you think it is, but make sure you can back up every word of
what you say. If at that point they can see through Granny’s BS,
that’s good. If not, that’s OK too. You didn’t say anything negative
about Granny or the ring. And you got yourself off the hook for the
possible suspicion of fraud. You might even get a shot at replacing
it with the real deal.

This can be an extremely emotional set of circumstances for some
people. Extreme emotions can cloud judgment. Tread very carefully
when contradicting a dead family member’s stories; always give them
the benefit of the doubt. Be even more careful if the person is still
around. If someone was willing to deceive someone else to that
extreme, especially a family member about the value of a gifted
"family heirloom", they won’t hesitate to put the blame on anyone
they can, including you, when they finally get exposed. And you don’t
want to get in the middle of a contest between a young man and his
sweet, generous Granny who may also be a pathological liar. Chances
are good she has a lot more experience at this kind of thing than you

Dave Phelps

One time I was shown a very nicely made, large, “sterling” silver
hand mirror and comb set. I had to explain that the stamping on the
back of the piece, small but clear, in fact, “german” silver did not
refer to linguistic ability.

Mark Zirinsky

I’m kind of loving this thread in a schadenfreude-ish sort of way.

I don’t do much in the way of jewelry repairs, but every so often a
friend or relative will try to talk me into fixing something for

The most recent one was a very heavy apparently silver intricate
rope chain. It had gotten tangled around an exuberant dog’s leg which
broke the chain right in the center.

Friend had inherited it from her mother, she really liked it, could
I fix it? My response was “I can try”.

It looked like sterling, was even marked .925 on the clasp. But
when I picked up a pair of pliers from my magnetic rack and reached
for the chain, a section of it jumped off of my bench and stuck to
the mildly magnetic pliers. After I pried it off the pliers I got a
stronger magnet and waved it over the chain, and you’d have thought
that thing was alive the way it moved and crawled in the magnetic

I took off the links around the break, which were torqued to the
point of being ruined and tossed them in the pickle pot, where they
promptly rusted.

The chain was made of silver-plated steel. The clasp was even
magnetic, much more so than just having a steel spring inside could
have caused I was hesitant to tell my friend, but I had to. Her
response? “Well, crap! Throw it away!” Whew.

Kathy Johnson

The best thing to do in my experience is to pull the guy aside and
explain what he has in private. Maybe even offer to create the real
deal that looks just like it. Look at it as an opportunity and not a
problem when things like this happen. Doesn’t always go well but
occasionally it can.

I have had to give bad news many times but this was by far my most
memorable time. Enjoy =)

I had a lady come into a store where I worked andwanted an verbal
appraisal on the emerald that she bought in Brazil. It seems that she
went on a cruise and when in some city for the day in Brazil her
taxi driver told her about a cousin that picked through the tailings
at an emerald mine to try and feed his family. Well long story short
she was taken to a home, more of a shack, outside of town and in the
forest and eventualy was able to purchase a polished stone that was
pretty much flawless and about the size of a peach pit for $2,000.00
dollars US.

She didnot react well when I told her it was a lab grown stone and I
showed her the curved growth lines with a microscope. She threatened
to sue the store for slander. I told her I was sorry that she lost
that much cash but she told me it was ok, she would just call Visa
and let them know she was scammed. They would refund her money!

At that point I laughed at her and asked how a poor, broke miner
living in a shack outside of a mine in brazil would be able to take
Visa cards? That should have been her first clue.

Well that was a enough to bring out the store owner and she demanded
that I be fired. He listened to her, looked at the stone and
laughed. At that point she stormed out and we never saw her again.

Gerald Livings

This story may amuse you, but at the time it happened, it was not
funny. One Christmas I had a house full of guests, all good friends
and relatives. House really crowded, some sleeping on big air
matressess. One couple were friends of my friends. I had never met
thembefore, but welcomed them to join the fun.

All was going well, until the wife came bursting into the crowed
living room where we were all enjoying my special mulled wine. She
was in tears, and cried out, " I just flushed my $25,000 engagement
ring down the toilet. I took it off to wash my hands, and wrapped it
in a piece of tissue paper, then without thinking I grabbed it and
flushed it down the toilet."

We immediately phoned for a plumber, only to find that on Christmas
Eve., none would come out. We were advised not to flush any of the
toilets and when they would come out, the day after Christmas they
would open the sewer line to retrieve it.

Oh no!!! 8 guests all staying overnight, and immediately everyone
needed to use the bathroom. We were on the verge of calling for a
Porta-potty, and I did not relish the idea of one perched on my
driveway, but figured that was the only alternative, and wondered if
we could even get oneon Christmas eve.

Then, the husband of the woman said, "Don’t bother with the
porta-potty orthe plumber, and feel free to use the toilets. Linda
will not like to hear this, but that “$25.000 ring actually cost well
under a hundred, not worth the cost of getting plumber out or digging
into the sewer lineto retrieve it. It is gold plated sterling set
with a CZ.”

He then turned to his wife and said, “Honey, I am sorry, but you are
so careless about things that I just did not want to take a chance
giving you an expensive ring.”

We all burst out laughing, and figured she would be relieved, but
she was not at all pleased and managed to sulk the entire evening.
They left the next day, much to everyone’s relief, as she kept
berating the poor man, and demanding a “real ring.”


Well it is not all bad news, one of the shops I used to supply in an
upmarket suburb had a regular customer who came in to the shop and
asked the owner to straighten the pin on a brooch with a very large
light blue ‘glass’ stone she had just bought in a local charity shop
for a few dollars and wanted it for an actress to wear in a play.

The shop owner, a qualified gemologist, took one look at it and
reached for his loop.

After an examination told his customer she had a magnificent
sapphire in a platinum setting, of considerable value! In England,
shortly after setting up my business I was looking round an antique
fair in a badly lit room where someone was selling second hand
jewellery. My eye was caught by a large yellow stone in an odd
coloured gold ring. Now I am not a gemologist. I was assured the
stone was a citrine, though I just had a feeling, it looked too good.
I bought the ring and unset the stone, when I next went to London I
showed it to my gem dealer who offered me 40 times the price I had
paid. I had bought a beautiful 10ct imperial golden topaz. The ring
alone, an undistinguished 14ct piece covered the purchase cost. I
kept the stone and reset it in a magnificent 18ct setting. I kept it
in my display box and eventually sold it for a good price.

I saw the seller some months later and advised her to research her
stock more carefully.

I have had to give customers bad news, I have never had a problem, I
always make sure the customer can see everything I do. I seldom buy
second hand from clients, except perhaps people I know and I give a
better price than they would get from a second hand dealer.

David Cruickahank

Hi Alma. Diamond is only a piece of carbon that made good under
pressure. If you have a house fire (heaven forbid) you will find the
ring but the diamond will be gone. All diamonds are good for is
industrial use. I’ll take CZ anytime. Roy in Oak grove

Many years ago I had a customer who was also a very good friend of

She was an independently wealth lady who owned a fabric
manufacturing company and she commissioned many pieces of jewellery
from me.

She had made her own money and was as sharp as a tack.

One of these pieces was a 18kt gold pendant set with a 5 carat
colour E flawless round diamond.

I supplied the diamond and had made her the pendant as well.

One day, she was in my shop and we were discussing a new piece of
jewellery for her.

She was wearing her pendant and I offered to clean it for her.

After cleaning, I took out my loupe to check that the setting was
still secure.

She was sitting opposite me, and as I looked at the diamond, I could
clearly see this was not that–a diamond.

What I had in my hands was a cubic zirconia.

Talk about a lousy feeling.

I knew that there was going to be big, big trouble.

I told her and she went went pale and then she burst into tears.

Man, that was for sure a time I wished I was not a jeweller.

Anyway, after I made her some tea and she had calmed down some what,
she started trying to figure out what had happened.

The bit of Hell Hath No Fury came to mind.

About a month later she came round and told me what had happened

Her husband had swopped the stone.

Actually, her now ex husband had swopped the stone.

How did she find out?

The idiot had sold the diamond and put the money in his own bank

And she went through his bank statements.

He stole from his wife of fifteen years because he had a mistress.

And he sold the diamond for about a tenth of it’s value.

Later, he phoned me and threatened to put me in hospital for many,
many months.

He blamed me for his divorce and the fact that she had turfed him
out with not a cent.

I gave him my shop address and invited him to come round anytime he
wanted to.

But unfortunately he never took up my offer.

Anyway, she was insured and I got to do the job over.

And I melted down her engagement ring set and made her a new piece
of jewellery out of it.

A couple of years later she married a guy who was wealthier than she

Insurance, she told me.

Hi David’s story reminds me of one. A dear friend who is a demon in
second hand stores saw something in a 50 cent basket that “took her
eye”. Straight round to a jeweller friend, yep a genuine Tiffany
bangle. He offered her $500 on the spot no sale.

You just gotta look don’t you. My wife came back from a trip and
showed me a nice dainty silver plate chain or so she thought, pulled
out the loupe white gold, a dollar well spent.

Good luck in the hunting
Xtines Jewles

I love this story thanks for the smile you put on my face. Justice,
it can be sweet. Good job

This thread seems to have changed from bad news to good news.

good idea!! Now talking of the ones where the trained eye has spotted
the jewel in the crown.

I just love hunting for old as in quality tools, interesting objet
d’art etc.

So combine work delivery with a nice constitutional around a local
car boot on Tues mornings for an hour…

Monday being a morning doing chores on the homestead.

Best recent find was a complete set of press tools for $30.00.

Madeby RS for the electronics industry.

Looked up the RS catalogue on line and the current price of the same
kit was $2500.00.

Just one of the sets of tooling did a piercing job for a customer in
some metal work for a ATM modification.

They could buy it new from NCR (National Cash register), with a 6
week lead time. They needed it within 3 working days.

thats where the money is.

Also im into minting/ drop stamping as a production technique, on a
table at said car boot, was a small box with a locket there in.

Made from sterling, probably French, 1.25in dia drop stamped with a
mistletoe design.

Very pretty piece, damaged, but restored nicely.

May well have a die cut to replicate to produce as a button or

The principle is to keep looking regularly.

The goodies will be there.

Have you ever read Guy de Maupassant short stories? This sounds like
one. Updated for the 21st century.

I once had a lovely, funny student in my jewelry classes. Anyways,
she bought in this really ugly gold-tone bracelet with blue enamel.
She paid a quarter for it at a flea market and she had to borrow the
quarter. Turned out the bracelet was solid 18kt. She proceed to melt
down the bracelet, roll it out, punched out a bunch of disks and
made something withit.

Years later, she contacted me, saying she was getting married again,
andwanted me to make her rings, him and hers. She gave me what was
left of the 18kt gold, which was still quite a bit. I made her
lovely 18kt yellow and white bands and used the diamond from her
first marriage on thenew ring. Plus a pair of earrings. After jobs
was done, she said, keep the rest of the gold for yourself. I was
happy to have the rest of the gold.

Cynthia Eid once mentioned in her class while I was her TA this
summer, that dentists are amateur jewelers, and she had one in a
class, that didn’t have the cash to pay for some supplies, so he
asked, would you accept gold as payment? She said, sure, I’ll be
happy to take the gold. Why not? Gold is money and we jewelers are
always happy to have extra gold. I recently had a student who had a
gold pendant and ring, and after I took the stones out, she said,
you keep the gold. I still have someof it left.


Sounds like fun, but, what is a “carboot”

I was born loving minerals and collecting rocks. I grew to love
jewelry & gemstones looking a Grandmother’s collection. But first
learned hands on how-to-make-items working in a Dentists’ office. One
day MANY years ago during long lunch break, he let me watch while he
carved a frog from wax, and did a casting of an adorably detailed
amphibian using scraps of dental gold saved from patients procedures
& the process we used to make gold crowns, etc. The resulting item
weighed about 2 ounces. I polished it to a high gloss using the
Foredom, and he stashed it away with his other gold animals for ‘the
future’. Next he made a belt buckle, wore it every day, everyone
assuming it was just some base metal or bronze. Eventually he made
all the railing for a 38’ sail boat and left it unpolished; he then
snuck all the gold through customs into Canada. Oh wait, that was
Gene Hackman…

Sharon in Sanford, FL