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Internet Jewelry Scams & Ripoffs


Jewelry Scams and Rip-Offs:

How to Protect Yourself

A Consumer Awareness Guide Published By:

Dievert’s Jewellers
4786 Johnston Road
Port Alberni, British Columbia
CANADA V9Y 5M3
Telco: 250-723-7241
Email: dieverts@dieverts.com

 

Table of Contents

I. Diamonds

A. Diamond Basics *
1. The Four C’s *
(a) Color    *
(b) Clarity *
(c) Carat *

(d) Cut *

2. Getting What You’re Paying For *

B. "Enhanced" Diamonds *
1. Laser Drilling *
2. Fracture Filling   *
3. Other Enhancement Techniques *
4. Fraudulent Practices *
(a) Concealing Flaws in Mounting. *
(b) Falsely Upgrading or Altering Certificates

*

C. Artificial Diamonds *

D. Diamond Simulants *
1. Cubic Zirconia *

2. Moissanite *

 

II. Colored Gems *

A. Treated Gems *

1. Common Treatments *
(a) Oiling Emeralds *
(b) Heat Treating Sapphires and Rubies *

(c) Fracture Filling *

2. Disclosure: Your Right to Know *

B. Synthetic Gemstones *

1. Melt-Growth *
(a) Flame Fusion *

(b) Pulled-Growth *

2. Solution-Growth *
(a) Flux Method *

(b) Hydrothermal Method *

3. Synthetic Specification *

 

III. Gold Jewelry *

A. Gold Basics *

1. Karatage *

2. Gold Colors *

B. Underkarating *

C. Judging Gold Jewelry Value *

 

IV. Common Scams *

1. Phony Discount Fraud *
2. The ‘Bait and Switch’ *
3. The Artificial Lighting scam *
4. The Too Good To Be True Rule *
5. more to come *
6. more to come *

 

V. Where to Buy Your Jewelry *

1. Catalogs and TV Shopping Channels *
2. The Internet *
3. Mass Merchandisers *
3. Vacation Cruises *
3. Vacation Destinations *

4. Your Local Independent Jeweler *

 

  1. Diamonds
        1. Diamond Basics
        2. When buying diamonds (as with any important purchase), the more you know, the better able you are to protect yourself from misrepresentation and fraud. What that in mind, here is a brief primer on diamonds:

          1. The Four C’s
          2. There are four essential aspects of a diamond that determine it’s beauty, quality, and value. They are known as "The Four C’s." Traditionally, they are listed in this order: color, clarity, cut, and carat weight.

            1. Color
            2. This is one of the first things people notice when judging a diamond. The closer to "white" (i.e. clear or colorless), the better. However, very, very few diamonds are absolutely water-clear colorless. Those that are, are graded as a "D" color on the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) scale. There is no A, B, or C color. "D" is the best there is, although E and F grades are also considered extremely fine and are often also called "colorless."

              The GIA scale runs all the way to Z, with increasing amounts of yellow/brown associated with each letter. (There are several other color grading systems in use, but the GIA is, by far, the most common.)

              Diamonds, although rare to begin with, are even more rare if they have shades of blue (like the Hope diamond), or red, green, bright yellow, etc. These are known as "fancies" in the trade and there is no comparable letter scale to grade them.

            3. Clarity
            4. As a product of nature, very few diamonds are totally flawless. Nearly all contain imperfections, such as tiny black or white specks, minute cracks, grain lines, etc. These imperfections are called "inclusions" if they are internal to the stone and "blemishes" if they are on its surface.

              A clarity grade is really a "flaw grade," because the fewer and smaller the number of imperfections, the more fire and brilliance the diamond will have (all other things being equal).

              Again, there are many different grading systems in use, but the most commonly used one is the GIA scale:

              FL

              Flawless. No visible flaws under 10X-loupe magnification.

              IF

              Internally Flawless. No internal flaws. Only minor external blemishes.

              VVS1

              Very, Very Slight Inclusions. Very difficult for trained observer to detect.

              VVS2

              Very, Very Slight Inclusions, although little more than VVS1.

              VS1

              Very Slight Inclusions. Flaws only visible under magnification.

              VS2

              Very Slight Inclusions, although little more than VS1.

              SI1

              Slightly Included. Flaws may be visible without magnification on side or back.

              SI2

              Slightly Included, although little more than SI1.

              I1

              Imperfect. Flaws may be seen with naked eye.

              I2

              Imperfect. More flaws than I1.

              I3

              Imperfect. More flaws than I2

              Most diamond buyers avoid the imperfect grades, especially I2 and I3, unless there are compensating factors.

            5. Carat
            6. The easiest aspect of a diamond to understand is its carat weight. But note that it is a weight, not a size (some people get that mixed up). A carat, abbreviated "ct," weighs one-fifth of a gram — or 200 milligrams.

              However, people commonly associate carat weight with a certain size of diamond. They expect a "1-carat" diamond to look a certain way. To some extent this is true, but there are other factors that affect how big a diamond looks, notably cut.

              Naturally, carat weight affects price — however in a "nonlinear" way. That is, diamond twice as big will cost much more than twice as much. Larger diamonds are rarer and therefore command a higher price (and price per carat).

              There are 100 "points" to a carat. Therefore a ½ carat diamond might also be referred to as a 50 point stone.

            7. Cut

            In the diamond trade, the cutting and proportioning of a diamond (referred to as "make") are of critical importance. The make of a diamond has an enormous influence on the beauty of the stone. Proper cutting and proportioning releases the fire (intensity and diversity of the rainbow colors seen) and brilliance (sparkle) that’s locked in the rough stone.

            Cut is the least well understood aspect of a diamond, and most people are unaware of the major differences between well-cut and poorly cut diamonds.

            There are few quality standards and criteria governing cut, unlike the standard grades for color and clarity. As a result, diamonds are sometimes purposely cut to a shallow depth, making them appear larger in diameter than a well-cut stone of the same weight. You get a "big look" from these so-called "spread stones" but the diamond appears lifeless. Some sellers mask this by using special high intensity lights to make the diamond seem more lively than it really is. Therefore, you should always check to see how a diamond looks in natural light. A well-cut stone will shine and sparkle even if the lighting conditions are poor.

          3. Getting What You’re Paying For

          When purchasing a diamond, always get a "plot" of the stone and a second appraisal from an independent "certified" appraiser. Independent means one with no connection (business-wise or proximity-wise) with the seller.

          The diamond "plot" should include a detailed description of the diamond’s color, dimensions, exact weight, and clarity grade.

        3. "Enhanced" Diamonds
        4. Many people are unaware that a number of techniques are used to improve the clarity of diamonds — by removing or hiding imperfections.

          Two very common techniques are laser drilling and fracture filling.

          1. Laser Drilling
          2. Many diamonds come from the earth with tiny black carbon specks inside them. Even if they are hard to see, they tend to scatter light and reduce the brilliance of the diamond.

            About 25 years ago, high powered laser beams were first used to "burn-out" these impurities.

            To reach the "inclusion," a laser drill is used to create a tiny hole reaching deep inside the diamond. Often the laser’s heat will vaporize the speck. If not, acid is poured into the hole, usually dissolving the spot or bleaching it to a less noticeable white color.

            Naturally, this process is irreversible. And, since it has become an "industry-standard" procedure, it’s not usually disclosed by diamond sellers.

            However, at Dievert's Jewellers always tell you about any treatment used to enhance a diamond sold at our store.

            The holes are so small in diameter, it’s very difficult to see that the diamond has been drilled. Still, looking at the side of the stone in very bright light may show some thin "threads."

            Diamond grading reports will usually indicate that the stone has been laser drilled.

            The Federal Trade Commission has recently revised the "Trade Practice Guides" for the jewelry industry, and surprisingly, has omitted laser drilling from its list of diamond treatments that should be disclosed to the public.

            Normally, the FTC requires disclosure if the treatment: (1) is reversible (i.e. not permanent), (2) requires special care and handling (different from an untreated gem), and (3) substantially affects the diamond’s value.

            Laser drilling is permanent, and the treated gems don’t require any special care. However, drilled diamonds are worth less than undrilled ones of otherwise equal size and equal grade.

            When you’re spending your hard-earned money on a diamond, you deserve to know the truth about what you’re buying.

          3. Fracture Filling
          4. Sometimes, a chemical substance is used to fill small cracks in a diamond. The effect of this treatment can be very dramatic, turning a very "ugly" diamond into one that is remarkably brilliant.

            However, all other things being equal, a treated, clarity-enhanced diamond is worth less than one that is naturally beautiful. There’s nothing inherently wrong with gem enhancement, as long as you know what’s been done to the stone, and you’re not paying for one thing and receiving another.

            This makes it important to know how to detect fracture filling.

            Luckily, the "dispersion index" of filler material is different from a diamond. It’s close, but different enough so that you can detect it’s presence by rotating the diamond under a bright light. At certain angles, the filler will create a "flash effect."

            Two companies in the United States supply most of the fracture-filled diamonds sold: Goldman-Oved Diamond Corporation and Yehuda Diamond Company. Fortunately, they are the "good guys," working to ensure that their products are not misrepresented to consumers.

            However, there are reports of hundreds of thousands of fracture-filled diamonds (especially small ones) being surreptitiously released into the jewelry distribution channel. You must be extra-vigilant when the true source of the diamond being shown to you is unknown. This goes double for fractional-carat stones.

          5. Other Enhancement Techniques
          6. There are various chemical coatings that can be used on a diamond to temporarily enhance its color.

            Radiation treatments can be applied to off-colored diamonds, turning low-value brownish yellow stones into expensive fancy colored diamonds (pinks, greens, blues, etc.). This is not fraud as long as it is disclosed. However, this treatment is difficult to detect except by a gem lab, and often, the diamonds are misrepresented as natural.

            At Dievert's Jewellers, we double check every diamond before it is shown to you or placed in our showcases. You can buy with confidence.

          7. Fraudulent Practices
          8. Unless you are a diamond expert, you can never be certain about the identification or quality of a stone.

            One tip-off is a price that’s too good to be true. The actual value of a real diamond is something that can be determined rather precisely. Most legitimate sellers seek only a nominal profit on the sale and are certainly not inclined to sell a diamond for less than they could buy it for.

            1. Concealing Flaws in Mounting.
            2. Although there’s nothing wrong with covering a flaw by proper placement under a prong or bezel or some other setting, doing so for the purpose of misrepresenting the quality of the stone is not acceptable.

            3. Falsely Upgrading or Altering Certificates

          When a diamond is not accompanied by a grading report, some unscrupulous sellers will represent the stone in an "overly optimistic" fashion with regard to color and clarity grades.

          Some will even change the information on the grading certificate to make the diamond appear more valuable than it really is; they’ve even used counterfeit certificates.

        5. Artificial Diamonds
        6. Most people know that a diamond started life as a lump of carbon (like a charcoal briquette) subjected to intense heat and pressure under the earth — transforming it into the hardest (and most desirable) material known to man.

          As you’d expect, there’s been a lot of interest in creating artificial diamonds in a laboratory — a form of modern-day alchemy.

          Industrial-quality diamonds have been available for decades and are used in grinding wheels, drill bits, etc. Industrial diamonds are small, and appearance is unimportant.

          However, after the break-up of the Soviet Union, numerous crystal-growing labs sprang up in Russia and are now producing created diamonds in good qualities and increasing sizes.

          Most created diamonds are less than one carat in the rough. Since 30% to 70% of the rough material is removed during cutting, the majority of created diamonds end up as fractional carat faceted stones.

          However, the growers have recently started producing rough stones in 3-carat sizes, and we therefore expect to see full-carat (and larger) cut diamonds on the market soon.

          Nearly all created diamonds are an intense yellow-orange "fancy" color, due to nitrogen introduced during processing. They’re very pretty, but the market for near colorless diamonds is much larger than for the fancies.

          The crystal growers are working on this problem, and we can expect to see "I" color grades and better (all the way to "D" and "E" in the near future.

          Clarity can be very good in synthetics, as high as GIA VS1.

        7. Diamond Simulants
        8. Whereas a synthetic diamond is an actual diamond created in a laboratory, a simulant is a "pretender," another "diamond-like" stone that is substituted for the real thing.

          1. Cubic Zirconia
          2. When it first became commercially available many years ago, cubic zirconia (or "CZ") fooled quite a few people. It doesn’t anymore, and many can tell it’s not a real diamond at arm’s length. Nonetheless, there are some good fakes out there, and you need to be careful if dealing with a seller you don’t know well.

          3. Moissanite

        Very recently introduced the marketplace, moissanite is an even better simulant than CZ. Its physical and optical properties are much closer to a real diamonds. Not all gem lab equipment is capable of detecting moissanite, although C3, the manufacturer is doing a brisk business selling their $500 detector to pawn shops and jewelry merchants who buy diamonds "off the street."

        Opportunities for fraudulent misrepresentation will, no doubt, abound with this new material.

      1. Colored Gems
        1. Treated Gems
          1. Common Treatments
          2. Two commonly "accepted" colored gem treatments are the "oiling" of emeralds and the "cooking" of sapphires and rubies.

            1. Oiling Emeralds
            2. Nearly all natural emeralds have extensive internal flaws. The appearance of these stones can be markedly enhanced by placing in a vacuum chamber and immersing them in cedarwood oil. When the vacuum is removed, the oil is pulled into the minute spaces between fracture planes, making them less visually apparent.

              This treatment can produce a remarkable change in the appearance of an emerald, greatly enhancing the beauty and clarity of the stone.

              However, over time, cedarwood oil can leak out of the stone. It may be necessary to retreat the emerald every few years.

              In recent years, several alternative filling materials have come to market. The most famous is "Opticon."

            3. Heat Treating Sapphires and Rubies
            4. Sapphires and rubies are often subjected to high heat in a gem furnace to improve their transparency and color. A well-known (yet unproven) side effect is diminished durability of the gems.

            5. Fracture Filling

            As opposed to oiling (which has become an "industry-standard" practice), fracture-filling of emeralds and glass-filling of rubies is a controversial, yet also common, practice.

          3. Disclosure: Your Right to Know

          You may have heard of a recent lawsuit that arose over a treated emerald. The NBC program "Dateline" reported on it. The case centered on whether treatment was disclosed to the buyer of a $14,500.00 emerald and diamond ring. Apparently Opticon was used to fill a large fracture in the stone. There’s still debate whether that filler was in the stone when the buyer initially took possession of the ring, or was added later on (by another jeweler).

          The buyer won a large award in the settlement. You may not be so lucky. It’s more likely that you’ll just get stuck with an inferior stone and have no recourse.

          At Dievert's Jewellers, we believe in educating the consumer. We want you to be aware of the common gemstone treatments and their effect on value.

        2. Synthetic Gemstones
        3. Synthetic (or "created") gemstones are grown in a laboratory instead of being formed in the ground by nature. They are physically and chemically identical to natural-grown gems but cost much less to produce and to buy.

          Just like natural gems, synthetics vary tremendously in quality. Using low-quality processes, synthetic emeralds and rubies can be created for less than a dollar a carat, whereas high-quality (or "luxury") synthetics can cost a hundred times more to create and sell for several hundred dollars a carat at retail.

          Should you consider buying a synthetic gemstone? This is a difficult question to answer. To some people, nothing can replace the "magic" of owning a beautiful and unique product of nature. To others, what they see is most important and — thanks to high-quality suppliers like Chatham Created Gems and J.O. Crystal — can own a "museum quality" gemstone at an affordable price.

          Many people believe a created gem is as "real" as one taken from the earth, and consider it superior to a natural stone that has likely been treated and "enhanced" by a variety of questionable methods. Still, quality is a major problem, particularly for lower-priced merchandise.

          Here’s a little background on synthetics, so you’ll know the right questions to ask.

          You don’t have to become an expert in synthetic gemstones, but it’s important to understand what you’re buying. If the salesperson in the jewelry store can’t answer your questions (or find out from somebody else there — quickly), then you’re in the wrong place to buy gemstones.

          There are many different production methods used to create synthetic gems, but they all fall under two major types: melt growth and solution growth.

          1. Melt-Growth
          2. Two common melt-growth methods are Verneuil flame fusion (or just "flame fusion") and Czochralski pulled-growth.

            1. Flame Fusion
            2. The first technology utilized for growing gemstones in a laboratory, flame fusion is still very widely used to create rubies, sapphires, and spinel. It’s inexpensive, but yields low quality gems. These created gems are often used in "class rings" and cheap jewelry found in discount stores. It’s relatively easy for any competent jeweler to detect synthetics created by flame fusion methods because the "dripped" molten material forms "growth striae" (thin, narrow grooves) as it hardens.

            3. Pulled-Growth

            Czochralski pulled-growth is also commonly used to create rubies, sapphires, and spinel. It’s a more complex and costly method, and creates better gems than flame fusion.

            Still, both these methods yield gems of questionable quality. Because they use very high temperatures, it is difficult for manufacturers to achieve uniform color (particularly in rubies and blue sapphires). The mechanical action of melting and reforming crystals introduces non-uniformities in the gems, which scatter light and give the stone a "dead" look — like a piece of colored glass.

          3. Solution-Growth
          4. Some believe that solution growth leads to higher quality gems than melt-growth. There are two common solution growth techniques: flux and hydrothermal.

            1. Flux Method
            2. In addition to creating the "big three" (emerald, ruby, and sapphire), the flux method is used to grow spinel and alexandrite. This method uses a supersaturated chemical bath to form the crystals. Flux Method or Flux Fusion — not to be confused with Flame Fusion — creates the highest quality and most expensive synthetic corundum (rubies and sapphires).

            3. Hydrothermal Method

            High quality emerald, as well as the less common aquamarine, morganite, and beryl, can be lab grown by the hydrothermal method. It uses a water solution at very high temperature and pressure and takes several months to create a batch of gems. That’s one of the reasons higher quality created gems cost so much more.

          5. Misrepresented Synthetics

        What’s the difference between a synthetic gem and a fake? A true synthetic or "created" gem has exactly the same optical, chemical, and tangible properties as the corresponding natural gem. Any variation in chemistry removes this correspondence, and the gem cannot be legally called a true synthetic.

        Otherwise, it is known as a "simulant," a man-made gem that has a outward appearance similar to a natural gem but is physically, chemically, and optically different. A "fraud."

        Only true synthetics can be labeled as such. The Federal Trade Commission regulates this, and only allows a true synthetic to be described by the following terms: Lab-grown, Laboratory-grown, Lab-created, and Laboratory-created. The FTC also allows "trade names" to be used, such as Chatham-Created or Gilson-Created. You may also see "Synthetic" or "Man-made" used as descriptive terms.

        Unfortunately, these designations can be used to label cheap flame-fusion created gems as well as the much higher-quality solution-grown stones. As always, be very wary of cheap no-name goods. If you can’t determine the pedigree of the stone, don’t buy it!

        Unlike synthetic diamonds, which are still quite rare, the market has been flooded with substandard created emerald, ruby, sapphires, and purple amethyst. You’re much more likely to find these cheap synthetics in discount stores than your local independent jewelry store.

        Unfortunately, a number of gem merchants mislabel and misrepresent colored stones to the buying public. As always, it is best to deal with a reputable seller who will guarantee your purchase satisfaction.

        At Dievert's Jewellers, we take great pains to comply with all laws and regulations governing gem labeling and disclosure. You’ll know exactly what you are buying, and will be fully informed about any treatments or enhancements that have been applied to your gemstone.

      2. Gold Jewelry
        1. Gold Basics
          1. Karatage
          2. Most gold jewelry sold today is not 100% gold (not even "solid gold" pieces). Pure gold is too soft and easily damaged — so it is alloyed with other metals for strength and durability. Pure gold is 24-karat (abbreviated 24K). Here is a handy table listing the amount of gold for in each karatage:

            24K 100%
            22K 91.7%
            18K 75.0%
            14K 58.5%
            10K 41.6%

            In the United States, jewelry must be at least 10K in order to be sold as real gold. However, in other countries, the karatage requirement is lower. In Canada, the legal minimum karatage is 9K, while in Mexico, it is 8K. You will see the "karat mark" stamped on most gold jewelry. Please don’t confuse karat with "carat," which is a measure of weight for diamonds and other gems.

          3. Gold Colors

          Silver, copper, nickel, and zinc are commonly used as alloying metals. Different combinations and proportions of these elements are used to create different gold colors, such as white gold, or less commonly, rose or green gold. "Yellow" gold remains most popular, and the higher the karatage, the deeper and richer the color will be. Naturally, the higher the karatage, the greater the cost.

        2. Underkarating
        3. U.S. and Canadian law requires that any new piece of jewelry that displays the karat mark also be stamped with the manufacturer’s trademark or hallmark. Often, the country of origin is stamped as well.

          Although the presence of karat mark, hallmark, and origin stamps will give you some assurance that you’re getting the gold content you’re paying for, be on guard if the piece is priced very low, or you’re buying from an suspect source. Recently, 10K (and lower) karatage jewelry has been sold with 14K marks. The absence of a manufacturer’s trademark should always raise a red flag.

        4. Judging Gold Jewelry Value

        Certainly, the amount of gold in a piece of jewelry is an important determinant of its value and selling price, there are many other factors. After all, you’re not buying a small gold ingot. Design, fabrication, detailing, etc. all add value and cost to the piece. Even though most jewelry is constructed using machinery, there are almost always steps that require handwork. If it’s a custom piece, it’ll probably be 100% handwork. The more there is, the higher the price.

      3. Common Scams
        1. Phony Discount Fraud
        2. You don’t have to look very hard to find "diamond exchanges" and "jewelry marts" advertising 50% — 60% — 70% off sales, on a seemingly continuous basis. Can you really get a great buy at one of these places?

          Unfortunately, many jewelry sellers (even large department stores) take quite a few liberties with their discount arithmetic. The main issue is 50% off what? What’s the "original" price they’re basing the discount on?

          How long has it sold at that original price? How many were sold? How long has the "sale" been running?

          The Trade Commissions sets specifications for discount basis, rules which most reputable independent jewelers follow scrupulously. Unfortunately, others choose to ignore the regulations and hope to skirt around the law.

          If a store doesn’t "play by the rules," there’s nothing stopping them from doubling the price of an item on Monday, and then declaring a 50% (half off) sale on Tuesday. This is phony discount fraud, and at Dievert's Jewellers, we never play that game with you.

          For your protection, whenever you buy a piece of fine jewelry, make sure to have the jeweler write a complete description on your sales receipt. If you’re buying a diamond, then the carat weight, color grade, clarity grade, size, and dimensions should be listed. For multiple stones, carat weight of the main stone as well as total carat weight including side stones, should be listed. Your jeweler should indicate if the diamond has been treated, drilled, or enhanced in any way.

          For colored gems, get an exact description of their color characteristics, as well as dimensions and carat weight. Importantly, get full disclosure of any synthetic or treated stones.

          Gold jewelry should always include karatage on the bill of sale.

        3. The "Bait and Switch"
        4. An old trick used by some stores is to advertise a diamond at a very attractive price. When you get there, you’re told that the diamond has been sold, and you are wheedled into buying something a lot more expensive.

          A variation of this scam is the old switcheroo – switching the diamond you have chosen and paid for with one of lesser quality and value when you leave it to be set in a piece of jewelry, or leave a diamond ring to be sized.

        5. The Artificial Lighting scam
        6. Not really a scam, but more of a misrepresentation. Jewelry stores like to display their diamonds under bright lights. Lights make diamonds shine and appear to be of better quality than they actually are. Some lights have a strong blue component, which makes yellow-tinted stones look whiter. This also has a whitening effect for stones in the lower color ranges. Halogen and LED lighting shows off diamonds spectacularly.

          Useful tip: Ask to see the diamond in a different, incandescent and natural as well. If you are looking for a high-grade color, ask for a certificate from an independent lab, to verify the grade.

        7. The Too Good To Be True Rule
        8. Always apply the "too good to be true" rule. If someone offers you an item at a ridiculously low price, more than likely they're setting you up for a jewelry scam. You can't really buy a Rolex for $50 or a 1-carat diamond for $200 -- unless it's "hot" stolen property, and you don't want that either!

        9. True Scam stories
        10. Tourists, online bargain hunters and even professional jewelers share a common misfortune -- they've all fallen victim to gemstone and jewelry scams. You might wonder: if even some experts can be fooled into thinking a fake gem is the real thing, what chance is there for the rest of us? We're not just talking about passing off a glittering piece of cubic zirconium (CZ) as a thousand dollar diamond, though that happens often enough.

          No, the con merchants go way beyond that.

          They make "sandwiches" with two cheap stones and a colored glue for the filling. They stick pieces of foil onto the back of stones, which are then embedded into jewelry that sparkles. Or they just manufacture substitutes for items like amber out of good ol' plastic or diamonds from glass!

          Then they churn out phony appraisal certificates and authentication forms that are as genuine-looking as their fake stones and jewels.

          Of course, at one level, there's nothing wrong with fake jewelry. Celebrities use it, royals use it, maybe even your grandma uses it -- as a substitute for the real thing that's often locked away in a safety deposit box. And of course costume jewelry, (when it's declared upfront to be fake), can make someone look like a million dollars for $100 bucks. Trouble comes when you pay top dollar for a phony gem or piece of jewelry, or, even if it's genuine, a poor quality stone.

          For tourists, Thailand especially has become a scammers' paradise. Scammers accost travelers in the streets of Bangkok, offering fake or poor quality sapphires, diamonds and rubies at bargain prices or even taking tourists to "jewelry factory" outlets where, supposedly, they can find a great bargain.

          The same factories, and their counterparts in China, flood the Internet, especially online auctions, with their products, from precious stones to "Rolex" and other famous-name watches.

          eBay and some of its traders actually have whole departments devoted to spotting these gemstone and jewelry scams.

          Such scams have also turned up in Mexico and the Caribbean. But the truth is they're everywhere. Earlier this year, roadside scammers in Germany flagged down drivers and tried to sell fake jewelry, supposedly to help pay for car repairs.

          And in North America diamond mine scammers operate at the only public access diamond mine, approaching stone hunters with supposed finds -- which, because of the location, have substantially higher than normal values -- which they offer to sell. The stones usually turn out to be fakes or extremely low quality from somewhere else.

          As if all this wasn't bad enough, unscrupulous jewelry stores join in the rip-off. In one favorite trick, they produce an inflated appraisal, then sell the item at a greatly, reduced, "bargain" price.

          Even working on the right side of the law, they exaggerate values and then mark prices down for sales, or they misrepresent the quality of stones, using technical terms or "bumping" up the grade.

          To our way of thinking, if the buyer is misled even without breaking the law, it still boils down to a scam.

        11. More Stories to Come
        12. Where to Buy Your Jewelry
          1. Catalogs and TV Shopping Channels
          2. Some people like to buy things out of catalogs, based on written descriptions and pictures. Others like to be "part of the action" and order the jewelry they see advertised on the shopping channels. However, a large percentage of jewelry purchased "by remote control" gets returned for a refund. Many people are disappointed when their merchandise arrives and doesn’t live up to their expectations. They’re then aggravated by the hassles of having to repackage and reship the goods back to the seller, paying sometimes outrageous "shipping and handling" charges plus the return postage.

          3. The Internet – Buyer beware
          4. Yes, these days it’s common place to buy jewelry online with your computer. Some people love the fact that they can "surf the web" and find jewelry for sale. Unfortunately, just about anybody can throw up a web site and start selling jewelry. Many of these "virtual stores" don’t even list a physical address. Also, many security experts caution against giving credit card information via insecure connections. Finally, the quality of photographs transmitted over the Internet leaves a lot to be desired. It’s hard to know what you’re really getting from these low resolution screen images.

            Many times we have had people bring in jewelry they have purchased online claiming they got an awesome deal. It usually turns out they did not get such a great deal. That really good price you think you paid was for low quality product that is only worth the low price you paid. I had one lady bring what she thought was a cultured pearl strand she bought online for $75. The pearls were fresh water pearls, strung on unknotted common cotton thread with a gold plated clasp, worth the $75 she paid. Quality cultured pearls can be $600 and up, strung on silk thread with knots between each pearl with a 14kt clasp.

            Those police auction website are the worse, that $600 watch you can buy for $50 is really a $50 counterfeit – no deal there. Be very wary of website with poor grammar and list location, no address or phone number or email address chances are you’re dealing with an overseas company producing counterfeit product.

            That $150 tungsten wedding band you ordered online was shipped from China, you ordered a size 10 but they shipped a size 8. Tungsten can’t be size and website has a “No Returns” policy. The customs and duties charges were a surprise too. Now what? There are many good and honest online jewellers too, they’re the ones with a brick and mortar location you could personally visit if you lived close by. They’ve been in business for many years and are easy to contact by phone. They’ll often tell you a story about themselves and business and offer jewelry buying tips. They typically offer jewelry related services too, meaning they can size a ring to fit you.

          5. Mass Merchandisers
          6. The big box stores, the Wal-Marts, The Bay, Costco, even Sears, all sell jewelry these days. Prices are low, but, of course, you can’t expect much in the way of knowledgeable assistance from the sales clerks. And, at best, you’ll be selecting from a limited offering of "best sellers" or “discontinued model” — that’s the nature of a "mass merchandiser." Many people like to feel they’re choosing a piece of jewelry that’s a unique reflection of themselves, and don’t like the idea that 200,000 other people are wearing the exact same thing they are.

          7. Destination Cruises
          8. We have personally seen this, the cruise ships have a trapped audience, they know you have been saving your hard earned money all year and your taking the cuise to maybe celebrate a special occasion too. Wandering around a ship all day there is only so much you can do and shopping being high on the list. We have a 14kt rainbow colored sapphire bracelet in our store that retails for sale $4,999. A staff member taking a vacation cruise spotted the identical bracelet for sale for $12,000 reduced down a "special sale" price $9,999. Again be cautious with these phony mark down sales.

          9. Vacation Destinations
          10. We've seen this time and time again, people bring in the jewelry they have just purchased while on vacation. That $50 silver chain stamped 925 they bought turns out to be silver plated mystery metal. The $2,000 14kt gold chain (stamped with the name of a major US retailer) you bought for $150 from someone in the lobby of a Las Vegas casino that told you they're desperate because they lost all their money gambling and you would really help them out to buy a bus ticket home. Turns out it's gold plated junk and worth $50. That beautiful $2,200 custom colored gemstone ring you bought on that cruise to the Caribbean. It was such a great deal you bartered with the seller and got it for the amzingly low price of $800.. Later the ring was professionally appraised out to be worth $500, being only a few grams of gold, made with low quality gemstones, cast with all yellow gold heads that were rhodium plated to look like white gold. A year later the stones start falling out and need to all be re-tipped, costing an additional $300. You’ve now paid out a total of $1,100. for a ring worth $500 and it’s starting to fall apart….Kind of ruined that special moment.

            I love the Rolex stories, every year we have 4-5 people come in with their new Rolex, it has all the markings of the real Rolex has all the stickers and the secret marks on crystal. I get a chuckle every time I open the watch and show them Made in China marks and the all plastic $4 quartz movement from Japan. I always asked what they paid, They usually pay around $50 - $75, they didn’t get ripped off they paid $50 for a $50 watch.

            A great scam this year was the Canadian tourist that went to Mexico for a winter vacation and bought a very heavy silver chain for the agreed price of $350usd, upon return home his VISA bill showed he was charged $700cdn. The fellow brought the chain into us to to verify its value and to get our opinion. The moment I touched the chain I knew something was wrong, the color was off the weight wasn't right. We documented for him that the chain was indeed not silver at all and had Zero($0.00) value, lucky for him his credit card insurance kicked in and they covered the loss.

          11. Your Local Independent Jeweler
          12. May we humbly request that you consider shopping for your jewelry purchase at Dievert's Jewellers. We’ll bend over backwards to help you find that "just right" piece of jewelry. Whether it’s an indulgence for yourself or a gift that is guaranteed to take their breath away, we’ll make sure that you’ll find exactly what you want. Even if we don't have it in-stock, 9 out of 10 times we can find it and bring it in for you or we can have our goldsmith make it.

            At Dievert's Jewellers, you’ll find a warm and friendly welcome, and refuge from the maddening crowds. Here’s a place where you’ll be delighted by a vast selection of high-quality merchandise, a place where you’ll never be pressured to spend more than you expected, and a place where you’re sure to find affordable, yet extraordinary jewelry — a great value, at a great price…

            Here, you’ll be delighted by an extensive selection of exclusive designer jewelry brands, a place where you’ll receive the personal attention you deserve, and a place where you’re sure to find that one extraordinary piece — a future heirloom….

            We’re located at 4786 Johnston Road in Port Alberni, at the corner of Hwy 4 and Elizabeth Street , in the Adelaide Shopping Center. We’ve been serving the Port Alberni community for over 65 years and have become the trusted source for fine jewelry.

            Thank you for visiting our web site.


            Dievert’s Jewellers
            4786 Johnston Road
            Port Alberni, British Columbia
            CANADA V9Y 5M3
            Telco: 250-723-7241
            Email:dieverts@dieverts.com

            Dievert’s Jewellers is open Tuesday through Saturday!

            9:30am – 5:30pm Pacific Time