Working with customer's stones

What’s your protocol when a customer is providing a stone (in this
case a big diamond from Grandma)? I’ll either be setting it into a
ring that I’ve put a big stone in before, or designing something
custom for her. How do I protect myself and assure her that the
stone is safe?


How do I protect myself and assure her that the stone is safe? 

Call Jewelers Mutual and get a Craftsman policy, if you don’t have
one already. It covers more than you’d think, and isn’t terribly
expensive. I pay about $1K/year for $50K replacement coverage, and it
covers materials as long as they’re locked up in my safe. Also covers
me for $25K when I am carrying goods to and fro (like going to local
galleries, post office, etc.).

Write your customer a reciept for exact (if possible) carat weight
and quality, and/or have her submit a copy of her last appraisal to
you so you’ll know what you are getting into cost-wise if you cannot
guesstimate. Be sure to inspect the stone with a loupe before she
leaves it, and point out not only any damage to the stone, but also
identifiable inclusions, so that you make sure she knows it’s hers
that she is getting in return. If nothing else, this might help you
get around the psycological issues of having an expensive stone in
your studio. Or not.

Alternatively, you could take measurements of the stone for the new
design, and request to have it in your studio only for a couple days
while you complete the ring/set the stone. This is what I do, even
with insurance, as it tightens the window that you are in posession
of the stone.

Hope this helps,


Are you insured? Do you have a safe?

Do you know the quality, size and weight of the stone? Do you know
if it is, in fact, a diamond?

Bottom line is, you are responsible so you better know what it is
you are responsible for and be able to safeguard it.

We remove from the mounting, measure and weigh each stone an note
that on our custom order sheet, the client signs it and gets a copy.

For Information and sample chapters from my book:

you write "as is " when you accept the stone on the receipt you give
the customer noting any flaws you notice witha loupe when you examine
the stone in the customer’s presence. Then make certain that you are

  1. insured against damages or 2) write on the receipt and make it
    clear that you are not responsible should anything happen to the
    stone in normal setting procedures based on what you discover with
    the loupe. for ex.- if the stone is flawed internally note it, if the
    culet is chipped note it, if the girdle or any edge is imperfect note
    it before the person leaves it with you. Also I don’t know your
    policy but I test stones before accepting them and make certain it is
    in fact diamond, of what quality, cut and clarity,size and note it on
    the receipt/job order and if your insurance allows offer to replace
    the stone only if it is lost or stolen while on your premises.A step
    further is to insure against your damaging it, with the offer to
    replace the stone with one of equal quality, etc. if you damage it
    during setting…in short, spell everything out in black and white and
    be as precise as is possible, and sure of your setting skills,
    otherwise contract the setting out…If you are asking this i have to
    presume this is your first shot at accepting stones that you are not
    supplying…no? Here’s a final note for you to consider;say grandma’s
    diamond is chipped, and has inclusions (SI2 or worse) how will you
    replace that chipped and included stone if you break it by forcing a
    prong, or not getting the angle of the prong correctly set against
    the stone, or heat damaging it if you solder after it is set and an
    inclusion heats up and blows apart?

in New Orleans:
315 N. Bernadotte St., NewOrleans LA 70119
In NorthCarolina:
Rural Route 3 box 108-D, Murphy NC 28906
1398 Dinkins Creek Rd. Murphy NC 28906

What's your protocol when a customer is providing a stone? How do
I protect myself and assure her that the stone is safe? 

In addition to the microscope in the gem lab, we keep another, older
one on the counter. Then we find an identifying feature such as an
inclusion, extra facet, etc. to show the customer. Since many people
are nervous about it, I even do this when a customer wants to wait
for an appraisal. They don’t seem to understand that I’m not fast
enough at the bench to reset their ring or whatever in the time it
takes to jot down the notes for the appraisal. After the appraisal,
the piece (or stone) is put back under the microscope, oriented to
show the feature, then shown to the client and returned. The
appraisal is later typed, then mailed to them.

We do the same process for your situation, whether setting it into a
mounting or making a custom job. Often, the customer has trouble
recognizing the identifying feature since they’re not used to seeing
them, but patience pays off. Sometimes I think they never actually
see it, but resign themselves to the fact that, if they want it done,
they’ll just have to trust the store that’s been there since 1942.

If you don’t have a second (or even a first) microscope, I’m not
sure what to tell you. If you’re not experienced at clarity grading
it may be difficult for you to even find an identifying
feature for your customer. Since I don’t have to think outside the
“microscope box,” I don’t have an alternative solution for you. But
if you think hard enough, you may find a way to identify that diamond
to your customer before they leave it, and when they return to pick
it up. If it has a cert, that can make it simple - especially if it
has a laser inscription. If it’s really all that big, it should.

James S. Duncan, G.G.
James in SoFL


This is exactly what I have done with customers for about 30 years
and I have found it to be an excellent way to put a client at ease.

I show them their Diamond or major Gemstone under a microscope when
they leave a piece and then I show it to them again when they pick it
up. I mark the identifying feature on the repair envelope and the
slip I give the customer. When they come back and look at the item
again and verify that it is theirs I have them sign the slip showing
they approved the item.

Only once did I have a customer try to say that the item was not
theirs when they came back even after pointing out the feature and
the slip I gave them. It just so happens that a friend of theirs was
with them when they dropped the item off and when it was picked up.
The friend asked to see the item under the microscope when it was
dropped off so when the customer claimed the ring was not hers the
friend took a look and told her that it was the same one.

Greg DeMark
Custom Jewelry - Handmade Jewelry - Antique Jewelry


It is really important to plot the diamond in your customers
presence, weigh it, measure it, and discuss any thing you see unusual
about the stone. For example, if it has I1 inclusions show them where
they are. If it has a chipped girdle show them. Also, if it has a
culet or anything that is going to show up once the stone has been
really cleaned show it to them. Usually diamonds come in pretty
grimy. It is also important if it is an off color diamond, say J or
lower, show them what it looks like next to white metal before they
leave. A friend of mine is having an ‘unhappy cutomer’ experience
because the little crappy promotional grade tlb 5pointers that the
customer brought in to use in your new white gold ring look like
doogy. The customer usually thinks that there diamond is flawless or
close to it, this is usually not the case.

It is also important to come up with a way of having a disclaimer of
responsibility for replacement in regard to chipping or breakage.
Stones can break under the best of conditions. Do you want to be
responsible if the I2 hunk of crap snaps when you remount it? You
need to explain this to the customer and get them to sign an
agreement as to services rendered. If they aren’t willing to trust
you and understand the risks involved walk away from the job.

I once had an employer who used to tell us [jokingly] that when a
customer with an emerald came in for a new mounting we were to hand
them a $100 and send them to the jewelry down the street!! Nine times
out of ten times the emerald was junk waiting to break and we had to
replace 3 or 4 pieces of junk every year, because one of the
designers or a sales person would sell the job because they wanted
the commission. All work that walks in the door is work that you need
to take on.

Good luck Dennis

Also, read my anecdote about my Mom’s lost diamond (in the lost
diamond thread). Customers often have an imaginary impression of what
their stone really looks like. They think theirs is so much better
than it usually is and of course they think it may be switched by
that ol’ jeweler who can see what a great stone it really is!


Thanks for the advice, I know I am exposing my green-ness! I’ve been
selling my line of 14k, silver, etc. wholesale to boutiques for
about 6 years, and just opened a little shop with the intention to
do more fine custom work…but I’m learning on the job a little.
There were some seriously practical gaps in my fancy-pants art/craft
education, and I’ve worked to fill in those gaps over the years,
but I know there is so much more to learn.

My plan for this job is to work from measurements to make the wax,
and bring the stone to my setter, I don’t want to keep the diamond
long, but I do have a safe for when I do.