A Good Jeweler is Hard to Find

June 2nd, 2015 by James L. Sweaney, CGA, FGA. GG

We recently performed extensive repairs on a wedding ring that had been purchased in the LA Jewelry Mart. Thing is– the ring was brand new!

The client brought the ring to us for an insurance appraisal. We recognized this as a “jewelry mart special” because he had a “feel good appraisal” from the original seller that valued the ring at about 3 times what he had paid.

Two serious problems became apparent when we inspected the ring. First and foremost, the center diamond was ready to fall out! It was the worst job of setting a diamond this writer has seen in over 40 years in the jewelry business.

Poor Setting top_edited-1

When properly done, the prongs in a tiffany style head (the 6 prong setting) are fitted to the stone and tightly crimped over the edge of the diamond so they grip the stone securely. In this instance, three prongs on one side of the diamond weren’t gripping the edge of the stone at all, and the diamond was seriously tilted.

These two side views show how poorly the stone is set– it’s tilted, the seats don’t fit the stone and the prongs aren’t set onto the stone .

Poor Setting side 1 Poor Setting 2

The most likely explanation for the slipshod work is that the jeweler sold the stone separately from the ring, and the head in the ring was for a smaller diamond. Not wanting to  spend the money to replace it with a proper sized head, the seller made the decision to force the big diamond into the small head– and succeeded long enough to get the ring out the door.

After consulting with our diamond setter, it was obvious the best course would be to replace the original head with one that would fit the diamond and to set the stone properly. At $200, not an inexpensive repair, but considering the diamond was valued at ~$7000, cheap insurance.

We also noticed that most of the channel set diamonds were loose and the bars between the diamonds were uneven and poorly polished– the result of hurried work and/or poor technique. Our craftsmen were able to tighten the diamonds and correct the uneven look– but so many stones were loose, it took a lot of time, resulting in a repair that cost another $200. In the end we were able to deliver a properly set and properly finished ring.

Repaired ring

The moral of the story is simple– you get what you pay for. The main reason for poor jewelry work like this is simple economics– quality work takes longer and requires more skill, so it costs more! Shortcuts and cheap labor are how some firms compete in today’s tough economy.

At Mardon, we take pride in our work. We make sure all of our original jewelry, custom designs, jewelry repairs and appraisals are done the right way. Maybe that’s why we’ve been voted Best Jeweler in the Press Enterprise Reader’s Choice for five years in a row.

Reader’s Choice voting has been extended to June 7– Vote for your favorite shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues by clicking on the red “Best of Inland Empire 2015” on our home page, www.mardonjewelers.com. We’d appreciate your vote so we can keep up the good work!

Poor Setting side 2

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