Diamonds are supposed to be forever, right?
Not for DeWitt resident Erin Pei.
She’s sick over the loss of the diamond, weighing just over 1 carat, while her ring was in the custody of Kay Jewelers at the Meridian Mall.
Though the jewelry store says it will replace her lost gem, Pei said that it’s impossible to measure the sentimental value. The missing diamond comes a few weeks after national reports surfaced about Kay customers who suspect their diamonds were swapped for lesser-quality gems while in for repairs.
Signet Jewelers CEO Mark Light told the Wall Street Journal, in a June 15 report, said there was no evidence of a systemic effort to swap diamonds but the company was still investigating.
Before Pei’s diamond went missing, she had been working, unsuccessfully, with the store to create a custom design for a new setting for her diamond. She sent in the ring for measurement while she worked with an off-site designer using computer-generated images.
She had hoped to get an updated ring with a vintage feel to mark her 10th anniversary.
The problem surfaced when Pei’s husband, Tao, read news reports late last month about unhappy Kay customers.
That alarmed Erin Pei, who called a customer service representative and asked for her ring back. She also said she planned to check the diamond to make sure it was real after it was returned. She was told not to worry, that it was rare to lose diamonds. That was near the end of May.
She waited for her ring. Then she said she got a call on June 8 telling her the diamond was missing, though the old setting, sans big jewel, was located.
“I was beyond shock,” she said. “…My husband is extremely, extremely upset.”
Kay Jewelers at the Meridian Mall referred questions to the corporate office in Akron, Ohio. Frank Cirillo, director of public relations for Signet, the parent firm, e-mailed to say that the company takes customer concerns seriously.
“We have reviewed this guest issue, as we do all that are brought to our attention, and are working diligently to resolve it in a manner that meets the expectations of the guest,” he wrote.
He said the company is reviewing its processes in light of the complaints but that jewelry is diamond tested before and after repairs and the company practice is to “plot” the diamond and map out each unique characteristic. Pei said she doesn’t recall going through this process but she has a certificate containing that information.
Pei first took her ring to J.B. Robinson at the Meridian Mall in September, just after her 10th anniversary. She paid a $250 deposit.
The custom design process was delayed repeatedly, sometimes by Pei, who has three children. Pei said she worked with several different employees, often having to start over to explain where they were in the design process. She said there were management changes when the store changed names from J.B. Robinson to Kay Jewelers after the first of the year. Both are owned by Signet Jewelers. The pictures of the design never matched her vision of the ring.
She finally contacted a national consumer line and began working with a representative over the phone before discovering her diamond was missing.
Pei is struggling with replacing her diamond. A store manager has shown Pei five rings and four stones to select from. She rejected most of them, feeling the quality wasn’t as good as the one she lost. She’s hoping the store will go beyond simply matching the value of her lost diamond. One she saw on Friday, however, is promising.
“With everything that has gone wrong, to just be like here’s a replacement, take it and go, it’s not going to make me a happy camper,” she said.
Her original ring cost $8,000, she said, but nothing can replace the sentimental value. It was carefully selected by her husband.
“That was when we were starting out, and not making a lot of money. I know how much he worked for that, taking on extra jobs so he could get me a nicer ring,’’ she said.
Tips for jewelry repair
According to the Better Business Bureau, before leaving jewelry make sure you have a legible receipt that contains:
- Your name, address and phone number
- Description and estimated value of item
- Estimated cost and scope of repairs
- If a diamond, a plot or diagram of natural characteristics and measurement of diameter
Ask to see your diamond under a microscope or have the store use a diamond tester so you can identify your diamond when it comes back. If you feel uncomfortable, follow your intuition.