I am one of the administrators of the ‘Scamologist’ Facebook page, which currently has over 15,000 + members and thousands of posts each month. People speak of all the possible scams related to precious stones (diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds and more). My good friend Federico Barlocher, the manager of the blog, is a real authority in precious stones. Scams in the diamond industry are less widespread since the GIA came into the picture. Don’t get me wrong, they exist, but the GIA has a firm grip on their certifications. For example, they are extremely wary of manmade stones and heated or treated stones verse the natural diamonds.
Federico Barlocher mining rubies
I have written my views quite clearly on the subject of man-made stones before. See my articles on Pure Hypocrisy and The Blood Diamond Game, which comment on Leonardo DiCaprio and his synthetic diamond startup, The Diamond Foundry.
Dr. Cavalieri, the President of the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO), criticized the comments of Hollywood actor, Leonardo DiCaprio, the most famous of the investors in the synthetic diamond industry start-up company, the Diamond Foundry. Dr. Gaetano Cavalieri, President of the World Jewelry Confederation (CIBJO) and among the most prominent leaders in the international jewelry industry today, also shared his view of their advertisements. He said the message of the Hollywood actor shown on the site of the Diamond Foundry synthetic stones producer, damages the livelihood of people in Africa and other countries where the diamond sector is important.
He made the comments during the 15th annual meeting of the Paris Gemological Association.
The message on its website from DiCaprio states that, by buying a man-made diamond, one will be "reducing the human and environmental toll of the diamond industry by sustainability culturing diamonds without the destructive use of mining." "Now, in and of itself, that statement by Mr. DiCaprio about the human toll of diamond mining is problematic," Dr Cavalieri said. "After all, if the only way we can protect people in Africa and elsewhere from the consequences of mining is by cutting them out of the diamond production business entirely, it is indeed a sad state of affairs."
The story of man-made diamonds is slightly different from the promise of Brilliant Earth, which was badly torn in pieces over the Internet.
Once this video was published, Brilliant Earth began trying to fight the 'scam' label that they were given. They promoted a Statement of Sourcing in response to defend themselves but I am not so sure it is going to work. LEIBISH’s policy was always to under promise and over deliver. My concern for them is that if they start promising heaven and earth, there is only one direction for them to go.
Tiffany & Co. is also trying to brand itself as an environmentalist. It is a bit less dangerous than Brilliant Earth, but still quite a campaign. They recently published an open letter to President Trump on their Facebook page:
The stand against the President is populist and silly. The political dislike of President Trump will not bring new clients but scare away many old ones. Tiffany already tried once to revolt against President Trump, stating that the increased security for President-elect Trump is hurting sales.
The way I see it, food manufacturers have learned the lesson quite well. Many products these days have a warning label that reads 'may contain nuts.' The idea is to avoid the unfortunate circumstance that without any reason a nut found its way into the ingredients of the product.
I am allergic to Gluten. Naturally, I do my best to stay away from any products that might have it. Similarly, I am also allergic to merchants with very heavy promises, whether it be on the origin, the value or the expected price increase. One of our sages, Maimonides, says: Do not consider it proof just because it is written in a books, for a liar who will deceive with his tongue will not hesitate to do the same with his pen.
When buying online, check the reputation of the vendor. The relative anonymity of the online vendor can make scamming an unwary buyer much easier; however, the vast reach of the Internet and the ease of disseminating information almost always ensures that a shifty vendor will be quickly revealed once they have scammed a few buyers.
A vendor’s reputation can be checked online even if they are a bricks and mortar operation.
You can check a vendor’s reputation online in the following ways:
a) Ascertain what you want and then let your fingers do the walking. The cyber world is small and is located in your home at the touch of a button. Do your homework, compare prices (there is a big difference between competitive low prices and ridiculous/unbelievably low prices). Become a cyber sleuth – it is interesting, fun, and financially rewarding.
b) Google the company and check for any negative buyer ratings or experiences. The Internet is viral and bad news spreads fast. Be wary if bad customer experiences are posted online. If the company has reviews from outsourced sites pay special attention to these as these results cannot be modified and should represent an honest reflection of customer experience.
c) If buying on eBay, check feedback. Although feedback is not sacrosanct, eBay has greatly improved its methods of monitoring vendors.
d) Check the site ranking on Google, Yahoo!, and other search engines. If the website has high search engine rankings for all most relevant keywords (organic, not sponsored links) of what the company sells, it usually is a sign that it is a reputable company.
e) Check with PayPal to see how many verified customers the vendor has – the more, the better.
f) Most reputable companies will be members of organizations that are related to the trade or jewelry industry.
You can only be a member of other organizations if you are a real company from the diamond jewelry industry.
If the company isn't a member of any trade organization, it may just be a red flag. If they are members, contact the relevant organization to verify their membership.
g) Is the company publicly listed? If yes, it is usually a good sign.
h) Check for online reviews with the company name. They are very easy to find and you will be surprised how appreciative a happy customer can be; they love to share a good experience. The opposite is true for an unsatisfied customer.
i) Check diamond forums. Enter reputable diamond forums and register as a user. Ask about the prospective company. Forum participants usually give an objective view of the vendor.
j) Check the company website and read the customer feedback. Contact the company and request references from customers in your country. Contact the reference/s.
k) Contact the company and request to speak to an employee listed in the ‘About Us’ section. If the company does not provide the specific names of employees in senior positions, keep away.
l) Does the company provide a GIA certificate (or IGI certificate for cheaper items)? Even though these can be altered, a phone call to the relevant laboratory can quickly confirm or deny any suspicions.
m) Does the company provide a Full Money Back Guarantee? Steer clear of companies not providing money back guarantees or offering to swap the diamond if you are not satisfied.
After perusing this list you probably feel more daunted than before you started this undertaking. Fret not. This type of research can be fun, will save you money, and most importantly, give you peace of mind.
Almost all the points above can be summarized as follows:
- The reputation of the vendor is tantamount and almost every point is a way of verifying that reputation. Once you find a reputable dealer, your search for the right diamond at the right price is almost complete.
- Before finalizing the purchase, make all conditions of the deal CLEAR upfront - price, shipping costs (if any), what will your receive for your money, RETURN POLICY (extremely important - if a company doesn't want to offer this, run for your life. Most common is 30 days and a full refund but check it out.)
When buying property, the golden rule is, “Location, location, location.” When purchasing a diamond, perhaps the golden rule should be, “Reputation, reputation, reputation.” For as is stated in Ecclesiastes, “A good name is better than fragrant oil.” Why? Because the aroma of fragrant oil only spreads a short distance, however a good name spreads everywhere. The advent and proliferation of a modern technology - the Internet, has only reinforced these centuries’ old words.