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Who owns the lost stone?


#1

Some years ago a ring that I made came back to me with a diamond
missing after being worn for three years. There was no sign of
damage so I accepted responsibility and replaced the diamond.

View 1

It’s my fault and replacing the diamond ‘no questions asked’ is the
best policy. Even if the lost stone was found and in the customer’s
posession, I must have full trust in the customer saying so or not.

View 2

I could demand certain conditions before paying out:

  • Have you taken reasonable steps to locate the missing diamond?

  • Have you reported the loss to the police and any other relevant
    authorities such as lost property or owners of premises where the
    item may have been lost?

  • After paying out for the loss then the lost item becomes my
    property. Should it ever be located then it must be returned to me
    post-haste.

What do you think? Do any of you ever venture into view 2 ?

Regards, Alastair


#2

i hope the diamond was small ! did the people ever bring it back to
have the stone checked ? i only seem to be able to convince 20% of my
customers to stop by with thier jewelry to have it cleaned and
checked after i make it. usually i can get them to do it for the
wedding i say “dont you want it to look nice for the photo’s?” you
are very generous put somthing on the reciept that says they have to
bring it back for checking within 30 days just in case the big one
comes up missing

goo


#3

It would depend on the size of the diamond. If it’s small just write
it off. If it was of some substance then you might consider the
second alternative.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#4

I think you have a sales opportunity your not seeing. At the time of
the sale if explain that the customer need to have the ring looked
at from time to time. It will get the customer back in the stone. You
can then show them what’s new or talk about their family.

If you tell a customer when you’d like to see them again, most will
drop back in. You can then see how your work is holding up under real
life conditions and adjust what you currently making so the problem
shows up less often.

Jim
Jim Zimmerman
Alpine Custom Jewellers & Repair
www.handengravingcanada.com


#5

Hi Alastair & group,

You certainly wouldn’t be morally obligated to replace the diamond
after 3 years. Doing so might add greatly to your word-of-mouth
reputation among your customers (and potential customers). Consider
it a marketing expense.

The ill-will that would be generated from option 2, on the other
hand, would probably hurt more than help you and have the reverse
word-of-mouth affect on your reputation. IMO

Ray Gabriel
www.RayGabriel.com


#6

I think that’s what property insurance is for. The setting lasted 3
years, that’s an indication to me that it met at least minimum
standards. If it fell out in a month it would be different.

But certainly you should insist on a police report if you’re going
to be an insurance company.


#7

Was the piece being worn daily or did it live in a drawer for the 3
years? Either way, in my opinion its a long time to guarantee a ring
even if it shows no sign of damage or wear. Admittedly, i dont like
working or replacing stones for free but at the same time if i think
its my fault am happy to do so.

Maybe i missed the point of this thread? sorry!


#8

Why not offer to split the cost of the stone?


#9
It would depend on the size of the diamond. If it's small just
write it off. If it was of some substance then you might consider
the second alternative. 

As is so often the case, there’s not enough info in an email to say.
Philosophically speaking (Who’s at fault, really?), three years is
far too short of a time for a stone to fall out. He/She knocked it
out, it’s their bad. It fell out because it was poorly set your bad.
If it were 10 years, then you’d have something.


#10

This is an interesting question and the answer entirely depends on
how original agreement between the jeweler and the customer was
written.

Generally, when work is completed and customer pays in full, the
title of ownership is transfered to the customer. When customer
comes back, after some time period, and claims the loss, it is a
claim for the loss of property due to jeweler negligence. When
jeweler agrees to undertake the repair, jeweler accepts
responsibility for the loss. In essence, the jeweler agrees with the
customer legal theory and takes steps to make the customer whole. If
jeweler does it unconditionally, there is no recovery possible
afterwards, even if an evidence of the customer wrongdoing surfaces
later, unless jeweler can prove fraud which is difficult to do,
because intent to deceive must be shown.

If jeweler wants to preserve the right to recover, he must do it in
writing and customer must sign it. The actual language will depends
on particular locale, but in general jeweler should say that he/she
perform the original order to the standards and specification agreed
by the customer, and his undertaking to mitigate the damage cannot
and
should not be construed as admission of guilt, or any other legal
theories and conclusions should not be drawn from it, and etc.
Jeweler must indicate that he/she is making "a business decision"
which is a term of art in the practice of law. The language should be
inserted preserving jeweler’s title to the property used in repairing
the damage, in case that evidence will surface showing that customer
was not entitled to the jeweler services.

If these and other steps are taken, the jeweler can recover in the
future.

Disclaimer :

This is not a legal advice and should not be taken as such. Consult
your attorney before taking any action.

Leonid Surpin
www.studioarete.com


#11
Philosophically speaking (Who's at fault, really?), three years is
far too short of a time for a stone to fall out. He/She knocked it
out, it's their bad. It fell out because it was poorly set your
bad. If it were 10 years, then you'd have something. 

My reading of this posting was that the poster was asking what
happened if the owner found the diamond after it was replaced by the
jeweler. My original posting regarding the size related to this. The
stone was lost for whatever reason, you replaced it for no charge.
My response was if it was a small stone who cares, let it go. If it
was a larger stone then ownership by the jeweler who replaced it
could be claimed, in exactly the same way it would be by an insurance
company if something was stolen/lost, replaced and then found again.
The insurance company would own either the replacement or the
original. The owner can’t have both.

Daniel R. Spirer, G.G.
Daniel R. Spirer Jewelers, LLC
www.spirerjewelers.com


#12

Hi all,

I hope you’ll allow me to tell my humble opinion about this matter.
I am still just a student (The Netherlands).

I thank you for all the great topics on Ganoksin… it really helps
me a lot to become a professional gold smith!

About this topic: I also believe that 3 years is a bit short for a
stone to drop out; especially seen the fact that everything was
still intact with no signs of wear or some kind of accident…

Some times there is tension in a diamond, which can ’ release’
itselfs when getting even the smallest bumb. (somethimes stones tent
to get a little ‘crack’ or even chip when set, even tough the
setting was done perfectly…

I think that something similar has been the case: the stone did have
some tension inside and the customer bumbed or dropped the ring,
maybe soft enough for leaving no trace on the ring (have you
examined the ring totally or only focused on the sprong itself?) but
nevertheless resulting in a cracked or even chipped stone… making
the stone drop out of the sprong unnoticed, eventually.

The stone is lost… even though the customer would find (a fragment
of) the stone…

But in my opinion I don’t think that we are responsible for these
kind of flaws of nature (invisible tension in stones). I think I
would be willing to do the repair maybe even for free, but all the
materials necessary are billed (sorry for my english, but i think I
am not saying this right?!) I would try my best to find the best deal
for the replacement stone, but I am not going to pay for it.

Thanx for you patience. I missed this option in your list of
possibilities. Just tried to think along…

best regards,

Stephen Tjon
Rotterdam
The Netherlands


#13

Thank you all for your comments. Yes further imformation is needed:

The replacement for the lost diamond cost me about US$450 wholesale,
plus the work of re-setting the new stone. It was the smaller of a
set of three stones. As a sub contractor to a retail jeweller I made
the ring and bezel set the customer’s stones. My customer was the
retail jeweller and thus I have never spoken to the owner of the
ring. This adds another level to ‘who owns the lost stone?’ and
another level to getting the message to the owner of the ring that I
believe the lost stone is my property should it ever be recovered.

The condition of the ring at the time of the stone escaping was
good…no abnormal wear and no signs of abuse. In this case three
years is not a long time and I do expect my work to last much longer
even with some abuse and normal wear and tear.

Neilthejeweller your comparison to insurance is spot on. I think the
difference between a guarantee and insurance is that insurance
covers ‘accidents’ and ‘acts of God’; and a guarantee is a
commitment to a level of competence. Much can be learned from
insurance companies in prevention of fraud and minimising loss and
this is what I am looking at.

If the stone falls out and I accept that the fault is mine, does
that mean the customer can get an extra stone for free? That is, the
owner of the ring does not have to go to the trouble of reporting
the loss to the police, does not have to expend energy in searching
for the lost stone, and if the stone happens to turn up a few weeks
later then it is theirs to keep as a bonus? Thus my main question -
‘Who owns the lost stone?’

Goo and Zim, I like the idea that a ring I made be returned to me at
least once per year for cleaning and inspection. Further… that I
charge the retail jeweller for the inspection because the retail
jeweller gets the fringe benefits of extra exposure and other sales
and (except in rare circustances) I don’t.

The main question remains, whether the lost stone is found or not,
if I replace it then the lost one is mine!

Alastair


#14
If the stone falls out and I accept that the fault is mine, does
that mean the customer can get an extra stone for free? That is,
the owner of the ring does not have to go to the trouble of
reporting the loss to the police, does not have to expend energy in
searching for the lost stone, and if the stone happens to turn up a
few weeks later then it is theirs to keep as a bonus? Thus my main
question - 'Who owns the lost stone?' 

Alastair, why would the owner of the ring report a lost stone to the
police? Is there some illegal act to report? Do you expect that maybe
someone will turn a loose diamond in to the police and the police
will cross reference it to all of the lost diamond reports and return
it to the rightful owner (you)? I don’t know where you are from, but
the police in my area have no interest in becoming the keepers of the
’lost & found’, nor do they have time to deal with reports of lost,
unidentifiable items.

That said, the wants and desires of the owner of the ring are
irrelevant to your actions, as your wants and desires are irrelevant
to the ring owners as well, since YOUR customer is the retail
jeweler alone. I think you need to codify your responsibilities and
warranties with your customer, the jewelry store, before you suffer
further loses. I really can’t imagine a trade shop providing a
3-year or greater warranty for jobs that they didn’t provide the
stones for (or make the money on the retail sale of) in the first
place. The jeweler probably doubled or tripled your bench fee in
charging the customer, and after 3 years should have been the ones to
eat the cost if they wanted to cover the loss of a stone.

Lee Cornelius
Vegas Jewelers


#15
why would the owner of the ring report a lost stone to the police? 

The reason to ask that a police report be filed is to…well,
basically, keep the honest people honest. Making a false police
report is a crime and so could deter a borderline dishonest person
from making the report, and that would give you some guidance in
proceeding. And, you know, sometimes people DO turn in found items to
the police. Last year the local police asked me to verify the
identity of a 2 carat diamond ring that was turned in as found.

The jeweler probably doubled or tripled your bench fee in charging
the customer, and after 3 years should have been the ones to eat
the cost if they wanted to cover the loss of a stone 

This is probably the salient point. Balance that off with customer
retention though (@ $450 its borderline on how adamant to be). I
don’t think the circumstances dictate eating the diamond. I mean
what happens to any item that sees three years of daily use? It
wears, it gets knocked, it goes in the hot tub, it maybe gets sized
by someone else. Its a simple thing, stones fall out. Rings
especially should be checked regularly. If you don’t get regular oil
changes in your car can you really blame Toyota when the engine
seizes?


#16

Leonid, Your advice regarding the possibility of fraud and the legal
ramifications is valuable. I hope I will never need to but if the
occasion arises I shall be referring back to your words, and then
seek legal advice with a good chance of getting straight to the
point.

Lee, you tell it like it is. It was a modestly expensive lesson for
me and although I have been exposed to a repeat it has not happened
so far. I will act on your comment as sound business advice.
Reporting the loss of a stone to the police is nothing more than a
date stamp and possibly a small measure against fraud. Yes it is
true that recovery is extremly unlikely and even more true that it
is irrelevant to me provided that I see it the way it is!

Thank you all, this has been an unresolved problem for me and should
I face a repeat I am better prepared.

Regards, Alastair