ABC News Finds Jewelers Not Disclosing Clarity Enhancement, Inflating Appraisals

The ABC News show The Lookout is charging that two New York City jewelers did not properly disclose that the diamonds they sold were fracture-filled and sold gems with inflated appraisals. 

A segment on the show, which aired July 10, had ABC news correspondent Dan Harris and gem expert Antoinette Matlins visit three jewelers on New York City’s 47th Street Diamond District. All three sold clarity-enhanced diamonds, but only two properly disclosed them, according to the show.

In the first store, the duo was sold a stone with an $8,500 price tag, for which they paid $3,500. 

The store-issued appraisal said “natural CE”; when Harris asked what that meant, he was told it had something to do with the prongs, according to the video.

When Harris bought the stone, there was an asterisk on the lab report next to the word “clarity,” which said the clarity was “enhanced.” Harris asked what that meant. According to the show, he was told, “It’s not the way it was born, they make it beautiful.”

“She makes no mention of glass-filled cracks,” Harris complained, adding he was not told that fracture-filled stones require special care. A lab analysis from Chris Smith of American Gemological Laboratories determined the stone was fracture-filled, with a lead-content glass used as filler. 

When confronted later, the saleswoman said she did “tell you that it was CE…that is why it is less expensive.” The shop owner apologized afterward and said the saleswoman “made a bad decision.”

The duo had a similar experience at a second Diamond District store. There, the show bought a diamond for $3,500, which had a $9,700 appraisal.

When the stone’s paper holder said “clarity enhancement,” Harris was told: “That’s the polish they do for the stone.” 

Harris also asked if the stone required special care. “Don’t be worried about anything,” he was told. 

When the reporter later confronted the salesperson, he was told, “I don’t know what they put in it.… It is polished inside.” The store owner offered to refund the reporter’s money, calling the episode “a misunderstanding.”

One jeweler, Mr. Diamond USA, did disclose the treatment, and received on-camera praise for its disclosure. 

The Lookout also said the diamonds were sold with inflated appraisals. The show’s on-camera appraiser said the stone valued at $8,500 was really worth $2,800, and that the stone appraised for $9,700 was worth about $3,000.

“We didn’t overpay, but we didn’t necessarily know what we were buying,” Harris said, adding, “If I was actually a bachelor, I would be shocked and surprised about these diamonds.”

Matlins said “there is nothing wrong” with selling a clarity-enclosed diamond, as long as it’s disclosed for what it is.

“In the gem and jewelry field, we say: In gems you get what you pay for—or less,” she added. 

JCK News Director