Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Diamond in the bluff

A WOMAN paid $2200 for a diamond ring from GraysOnline, but it was later revalued at just $100 after it was discovered to be a low-grade industrial diamond treated and filled to mask flaws.
Newly engaged Shelley Wang heard GraysOnline sold diamonds cheaper than retail outlets.
When she logged on and saw a 1.07-carat, solitaire brilliant cut engagement ring, the valuation certificate putting the ring's value at $8050 convinced her to bid.
``I saw the certificate online and thought it was legitimate,'' she said.
Ms Wang bid up to $2259 and ``won''.
``Obviously I was excited. I had an $8000 ring that I paid just $2200 for,'' she said.
The cost was immediately billed to her credit card, but when the ring arrived two days later, Ms Wang was horrified.
``The diamond wasn't sparkling, you could see all the little cracks inside it. A piece of glass would have been better,'' she said.
When Ms Wang took the ring to the Diamond Certification Laboratory Australia for grading and assessment, her fears were confirmed.
``It was a low-quality industrial diamond called a reject and worth only $100,'' DCLA's Michael Cohen said.
``There is a treatment called fracture filling, where diamonds are injected under high pressure to fill in and mask faults, much like how they fix a chipped windscreen.''
Ms Wang complained to GraysOnline, and after an internal investigation was reimbursed.
``We found the stone in question was fracture filled and incorrectly described and the valuation was incorrect. A mistake was made, which is why we provided a full refund,'' Mark Kehoe, from GraysOnline said. He said the company only sold on behalf of wholesalers.
GraysOnline sold $700,000 worth of diamond jewellery a month, Mr Kehoe said.
``We engage third-party valuers, a panel from the National Council of Jewellery Valuers,'' he said.
``We rely on a description provided by the valuer.''
Ms Wang's diamond was accompanied by a certificate certified by a registered valuer and NCJV member.
``My understanding is it was impossible to see the fracture fill as it was still in the setting,'' Mr Kehoe said, defending the valuer.
NCJV president Graham Easy said the association had ``a number of complaints'' from consumers who had bought from GraysOnline.
Laboratories could take a low-grade stone and make it look better, which Mr Easy said was ``fine'' if there was full disclosure.
``The problem is with overseas sellers not disclosing the treatments because you cannot see fracture filling with the naked eye,'' he said.
GraysOnline said it no longer sold ``treated diamonds''. It has also stopped advertising that consumers can ``expect to save over 50 per cent on the finest diamonds''.

Article by: Jane Hansen

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