Many people are worried that if they give their precious stones to a jeweler that they will not get the same stones back. The idea that there are jewelers who will steal stones and either replace them with fakes or with stones of lesser quality has been a consumer caution for many years.
I have no idea how prevalent this deception really is, but I can assure you that at Walker Metalsmiths we are honest and would never switch customers stones. In fact, after more than 30 years in the jewelry business I have no first hand knowledge of this ever happening to anyone. I suspect that the problem is really very rare and exists mainly as a form of boogie-man folklore.
I can offer nothing but my word that I am honest and ethical in my business practices. Occasionally people ask to watch me remove stones from their old jewelry and re-set it in the new piece. I refuse to allow this for two reasons. 1. Stone setting is delicate and often stressful work. I am not comfortable doing it with an anxious or nervous person looking over my shoulder. 2. The request implies that the customer does not trust me and I am even more uncomfortable that situation. If you don't trust me, find a jeweler that you do trust. I will be glad to supply unmounted jewelry that you can have someone in your own area set your stones in.
How good is Grandma's Diamond?
The prevalence of this mistrust of jewelers does present a problem, however, that sometimes makes me and other craftsmen gun-shy about taking customer's stones. In many cases I have had the unpleasant situation that when a family "diamond" ring was brought to me that it was not a diamond at all. I hate to disappoint people by bursting their bubble, but on the other hand if I simply re-set the stone without saying something, I am risking that the customer will get the piece appraised and accuse me of having made the switch. Many people own jewelry, often pieces that have been inherited, that have family lore that exaggerate their quality and value. If Grandma's flawless one carat diamond turns out to be an included smaller stone or a simulation, some people will blame the last jeweler who touched it rather than face the possibility that sentimental value has inflated the stone's reputation, or perhaps Grandpa was a cheapskate.
Stones from other dealers
I encourage customers with expensive stones purchased from other suppliers to arrange with those suppliers for setting. I am very willing to provide rings without stones to have the settings and stones added by other craftsmen. There is a big responsibility in taking valuable gems into my workshop and for arranging secure delivery. I would much rather that the responsibility for these services be taken by the original seller, since this person or company is naturally accountable for the quality and value of the stone. It seems fair that the vendor of the stone should take responsibility for the setting and final delivery. This arrangement reduces insurance and shipping costs as well as reducing anxiety about security and timely delivery.
I am a Metalsmith, not a Gemologist
An additional disclaimer, while I have a practical knowledge and experience with gemstones, I am primarily a metalsmith. I am not a certified gemologist and I am not qualified to grade diamonds. I have the ability to test diamonds as either "diamond" or "not diamond" and have a pretty good sense of quality. I will stand by the stones I sell, but regarding stones supplied by customers, I will offer my best opinion if asked. Thus stones from customers for remounts are accepted with the understanding that I will set what I am given and that I am not responsible for issues regarding appraisals, nor offer any warranties regarding identification, quality or value.
Walker Metalsmiths One Main Street, Andover, NY phone 1-800-488-6347