August 21, 2013

A Diamond Fell Out of My Ring: Now What?

Posted in diamonds, engagement, jeweler, jewelry, jewelry care, jewelry repair, rings, rose diamonds tagged , , , , , , at 10:44 pm by rosediamonds

Alternate Title: Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner: Friend or Foe?ultrasonic cleaning

 

Our Verdict? Frenemy: a blend of friend and enemy 

One of the most common complaints about jewelers and jewelry across the board is the often touchy issue of a diamond falling out of a ring during cleaning, repairs, typing, breathing, etc.  It’s a touchy subject where everyone wants t point the finger at someone else, but allow us to, as professionals in the industry, explain both sides of the issue.
 
Below are a couple consumer complaints taken from online forums.  These illustrate a common emotional response to a situation that is unfortunate for both the consumer and the jeweler.
 

I purchased a ring for my wife’s birthday and has has worn it about 10 times but it has been a year.Its a small stone that fell out but they said their policy is to bring in the ring every 6 months and have it inspected and if I had done that they would have fixed it.

I took it to another jeweler and had it repaired and while he was cleaning it another stone fell out. I just believe they sell ***, the ring was $1000.00 and if they can’t sell jewelry that the stones don’t fall out with limited or even full ware, they should go out of business. I am telling everyone I know about they crappy policy.
My wife has 20 fine pieces of jewelry and if it had all been purchased from (XYZ JEWELERS) she would not have time for anything else but inspecting jewelry.  I hope they go out of business.

OR

I went to go pick up my wedding band yesterday, and they offered to clean my engagement ring for me. Then there was a commotion in the back of the jewelry store and they asked me how long I’ve had the ring etc. I told them a little under a year. Then they told me that one of the little diamonds in the pave setting fell out and they couldn’t find it in the filter. I know the jeweler who cleaned my ring isn’t responsible for my ring since it’s only been a year and it shouldn’t have fallen out from a steam cleaning.

The jeweler where we got the ring from isn’t open today (Monday) and I only have 4 days to get my engagement ring fixed!! So are they responsible for the diamond? Luckily our ring is insured, but who’s responsible? What should I do?!  Nothing is going right!!

Just so we all know what kind of ring it is most likely to happen to: Micropave rings.  They are super popular, and have teeny tiny prongs that hold the diamonds in the ring. (see right)

micropavemissing diamond

I always like to read comments after a heated complaint, and there was quite a range of responses ranging from commiseration, insurance claims, insurance fraud, and general bad-mouthing.  I DID like this one to a point…

Pave settings, however, are notorious for losing stones, no matter how long (or short) a time you’ve worn them.  Can you check with your jeweler to see how they actually cleaned the ring?  If they put it in some sort of ultrasonic machine (which uses tiny, fast vibrations to knock dirt and grime loose into the cleaning solution), it is almost certainly the jeweler’s fault — any jeweler worth their salt should know not to put pave in an ultrasonic machine.  The tiny vibrations can easily knock the stones right out of the pave setting. If they cleaned it more gently, then it was probably about to fall out anyway and not the jeweler’s fault.

It’s hard to say without knowing the details of your setting, but sometimes the maker of the setting will replace the pave stones for free or a nominal cost, since they expect that a few will fall out sooner or later.  Check with whomever you bought the ring from to see if this is true.  If it’s going to cost less than your insurance deductible to get it fixed, there’s no sense in putting a claim on your insurance unnecessarily.

Let’s look at this in Three Parts: Why Did This Happen? Whose Fault Is It? Ways to HELP Prevent It

why_meWhy Did This Happen?

  • Normal Wear & Tear: Did you know that the prongs are thinner than paper clips and made out of a relatively soft metal (white gold, gold, silver, etc)  Each time you wear it, the prongs (especially those on the outer edges and at the tallest points) are getting worn down fractionally.  Similar to the wear and tear on tires.  No one expects tires to last 30 years, right?
  • Common Occurrence: The prong was damaged previously (by wear and tear or hard hit) and was unnoticed because a build-up of lotion, soap, oils, etc was holding it in place like a glue.  The heated jewelry cleaning solution loosened the lotion build-up and the stone fell out.
  • Common Occurrence: No one, including the salesperson who took in your repair noticed that the diamond was missing because the spot was filled with white paint, lotion, etc. and wasn’t immediately noticeable.  It was missing before you came in.
  • Prong Pulled/Pushed: Don’t stop wearing sweaters, but prongs can over time get lifted by snagging on blankets, sweaters, your hair etc.  A strong enough pull can lift the prong off the surface of the bezel facet,, releasing your diamond
  • Thin walls/prongs: many rings on the market are priced to sell.  Not necessarily priced to last.  The thinner the metal holding the diamonds, the more prone to damage/wear and tear.
  • Excessive maintenance: Extremes are problems in all walks of life, and jewelry care is no different.  Excessive, repeated polishing can expedite the wear and tear process from gradual to moderate.  Don’t worry about occasional clean & polishes. but also don’t get your ring polished every day.
  • Extreme ring sizing: When you adjust the angle of the ring shank (up OR down) by a lot, the angle of the prongs also changes.  Sometimes, stones will loosen following a sizing of more than 2 sizes either direction.  Many jewelers take precautions to prevent this from happening, but no two jobs are the same, and many times, they cannot make any guarantees. 
  • Everyone’s Frenemy: the ultrasonic jewelry cleaner is a standard part of any jeweler’s cleaning regimen.   The wave shake gunk out from behind stones and can speed up the pre-repair cleaning process exponentially.  Many people do not realize that jewelry must be squeaky clean prior to heating (with the torch).  If it is not completely clean, oils and dirt can “burn” onto the backsides of the stones and inside tiny crevices in the jewelry.  Without the ultrasonic cleaning, many jewelry pieces would take days longer to repair or service due only to the cleaning time required.  During the gunk shake-up, diamonds can also shake loose and fall to the bottom of the cleaner.  Ultrasonics are a necessary evil and often paired with diamond’s #2 enemy (the steamer) which uses high powered jets of steam to remove debris from jewelry.  This was probably the real cause of the commotion in the above example as a diamond bounced off the floor and everyone crawled around trying to find it.

Whose Fault Is It?Not My Fault

It would be great if we could simply point a finger at one party, time and time again.  Here is a general breakdown of where fault CAN lie.  Each case is individual, and with all human conflict, usually a combination of faults.

  • The Jeweler: whether they cleaned it, repaired it, sold it, or looked at it, the jeweler gets a lot of blame in any “diamond fell out” situation.  The jeweler is occasionally guilty of extreme sizing problems and overzealous polishing.
  • The Manufacturer: Thin walls and teeny prongs are made with the minimum amount of gold to keep their costs competitive with other manufacturers, whose goal is to keep their jewelry affordable enough for end users despite rising metals costs (outside of their control).
  • The Consumer: Wearing delicate jewelry while very active (think landscaping) can cause unusual wear and tear issues.  Consumers should also limit chemical exposure (cosmetics, cleaners, bleach, and pools) which can weaken metals by eating little holes in it.
  • No One’s Fault: Wear & Tear is normal, and just like computers and cars require regular maintenance to keep them performing their best, jewelry also needs occasional check-ups.  Accidents happen.  Consumers and Jewelers both can get in a rush and forget to thoroughly inspect items prior to cleaning, and it can lead to upset all the way around.
  • The Salesperson: I mention this as a separate entity because many times, a sales associate in a jewelry store will have little to no training on jewelry maintenance, repairs, diamonds, etc.  It is their job to record client information and sell jewelry.   Just like a waiter is not at fault for salty food, a salesperson usually had no hand in your repair. At the same time, if your salesperson is rude or unsympathetic to the unfortunate-ness of your situation, you do have a right to be upset about their handling of the issue.

Ways to HELP Prevent It An_ounce_of_Prevention

Nothing is going to be 100% fail proof, but there are several things both jewelers and consumers can do to lesson the occurrence and the impact of losing a stone.

  • The Consumer: Maintain your jewelry’s integrity by removing it during heavy activity & chemical exposure
  • Yearly Prong Checks: by a trained jeweler (note NOT a salesperson).  A trained jeweler will be able to identify heavy wear and can suggest preventative measures to keep jewelry looking its best.  It is less expensive to re-tip an existing prong than to replace a missing/broken prong + missing diamond
  • Be aware that shared prongs and or thin construction can lead to more stone issues if you tend to be hard on your jewelry
  • If you have inherited a ring that you plan to put into daily wear, take the time and initial expense to get it inspected by a trained jeweler, so it will last another generation of wear
  • Make sure your jeweler carefully inspects your ring in front of you prior to taking it to the back for cleaning or service.  It prevents any weird feelings about whether stones were missing prior to drop off, or any prong damage/wear can be identified proactively.

now-what_If you do have a stone fall out

In the end, it is not a complete disaster.  Most jewelry stores across the country will replace diamonds and reset them for less than $50.  

A tip: if your stone comes out during cleaning or service work at your local jeweler’s, try to understand it is a bad day for them as well.  Most jewelry stores that have on site repair centers can replace the diamond quickly and reasonably.  Some jewelers will give you a discounted repair fee if they feel they were somewhat responsible (ie. did not check prongs prior to cleaning)  Remember it is easier to lure flies with honey…

 If a diamond falls out while you are outside a jewelry store, try to locate it.  If you can find it, it will save you the cost of a new stone at the jeweler’s.  You can bring it in by using a piece of scotch tape to secure it to a piece of paper.  

red tapeRegarding Insurance Claims

 This leads into the next issue of whether to claim it on your insurance (usually jewelry is covered as a rider on your homeowners or renters policy).  Most clients have reported that only center stones are usually worth the hassle of submitting claims to their insurance company.

 

Losing a diamond is one of the most emotional problems consumers face at the jeweler’s, and there is a lot of emotional misinformation out there.  Hope this helps you keep your cool if it happens to you.friends

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17 Comments »

  1. Jane Alba said,

    The similar incident happened with my cousin last month, she lost her diamond… 😦

    ladies diamond rings

  2. Svenn said,

    Thanks for the comment Jane. Care to share what the outcome was?!?

  3. Thanks for the tips! There have been a couple of times when my diamond fell out of my engagement ring. I don’t want it to happen again, so I want it to be fixed once and for all. I’m pretty hard on my jewelry, so I should take your advice and take my ring off while I’m doing heavy activity and working with chemicals. In the mean time, I should take my ring to a jewelry repair shop.

  4. Derek Stevenson said,

    Would like to have a wedding ring fix

    • rosediamonds said,

      Please bring it in!

  5. Nicola Campbell said,

    My ring was specially commissioned by a reputable family owned jewlers with my own yellow and white gold and the diamonds from my original engagement ring and a central diamond inherited from my husbands grandmother I have had it since July and have lost two of the smaller outside diamonds already .The first time they where horrified and sorted it no prob , but today after I came home I noticed another diamond is missing and I will have to take it back in tomorrow, there has been no wear and tear on this ring what so ever and I hardly wear it after loosing the first stone as I feel nervous . Can you advise ? My original engament ring I never took off and even wore it when gardening it took nearly twenty five years of hammering and was well worn what is the problem ?

    • rosediamonds said,

      Hi Nicola,

      Without seeing the ring, it is hard for me to gauge what the issue is. I suspect that the stones in the new ring are set differently than the original. We have fallen in love with dainty sty;es, but our lifestyles don’t always match.

      I’d be happy to take a closer look if you want to send a pic in.

  6. Bobbiejo said,

    My boyfriend just proposed to me and the ring he gave me I only wore for like 3 hours and the diamond came out does that mean the ring is fake or what?

    • rosediamonds said,

      Hi! Sorry a stone fell out, but it doesn’t mean the ring is fake. Sometimes a stone can fall out if it has been sized. the bending of the metal changes the angles of the prongs that hold in the stones. Easy to fix…don’t worry.

      Congrats, by the way!

      • Bobbiejo said,

        I’ve never had it resized so I don’t no why it came out that’s what I was wondering why it would come out

        And also thank you

      • Bobbiejo said,

        And also how can I have it fixed would I have to take it to a jeweler or what?

  7. Have a diamond ring paid £ 17,000 ten years ago now it’s discoloured and a small crack appeared Had it checked 6 months ago to make sure stone was secured Can this repair have caused the crack or discolour No trouble

    • rosediamonds said,

      So this is interesting. Diamonds don’t grow more discolored, but they can reflect discoloration of yellow gold (prongs). Yellow gold can discolor if exposed to chemicals.

      The chip may have occurred with a accidental bump (along a critical angle) or it may be an inclusion that was always there, but only recently noticed (this happens). A chip is going to feel sharp and may show a conchoidal fracture (it looks the same way glass chips in circular formations). A feather is an inclusion that forms during the diamond’s formation millions of years ago. Most feathers do not affect durability of the stone.

      The worst case scenario is that the stone was replaced. This is rare, but not unheard of. Most jewelers have a reputation that is more important than small gains on single stones, but there are situations where this has occurred.

      I’d be happy to take a look at some pictures if you want help identifying the chip vs. feather issue.

  8. Stephanie Pulliam said,

    Who can I take my engagement ring to and get it fixed cuz I love my engagement ring who do I take it to

    • rosediamonds said,

      If you are in the Springfield, MO area, I’d be happy to repair it. If you prefer to get it fixed locally, I recommend you look for a jewelry store that has a repair center on site. It makes life less complicated. You can ask to view the ring under a microscope before and after leaving it to verify it’s yours

      PS. When reviewing online reviews, take the comments with a grain of salt. There are a lot of unhappy people in the world, lol.

  9. Kris said,

    Hi there, I just ran into a similar scenario as to what you discussed in your article. My stone fell out, I called the jewellery store where my husband bought my rings at and because I have not my rings maintained every 6 months, my warranty is void. I never even knew about this!! My husband never told me. Anyways, they said they would have to ship the ring out and it would cost between $500 – $1200 to fix. Does this seem right to you? Thank you!

    • rosediamonds said,

      Sorry you lost a stone. It’s not fun for anyone–including the jeweler. The repair cost depends on the size and quality of the diamonds. That said, it sounds like they were big stones or had sustained big damage

      I’d be happy to take a look if you want to text me a picture of it.

      Most places that offer warranties have these types of checkup policies in place to protect them from extensive risks. Because gold is a soft metal, it requires maintenance to keep it looking nice. The policy is meant to give customers a warning when the prongs are low. It’s useful if you always live in one place, but can be a hassle if you move.

      Alternative coverage for loss is available through an addition to your homeowners policy. FYI


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