California Jewelers Deal With Local Scandal

After a jeweler has been arrested for stone switching, local retailers handle his former customers

In the wake of a widely publicized stone-switching case, Ventura, Calif., retailers have turned from salespeople to diamond checkers.

Following his arrest for grand theft, Jewelry Unlimited owner Ara Ghazarian took his own life, the local district attorney confirmed. 

His death stranded dozens of distraught customers, who have poured into his former competitors wanting their stones checked.

Debbie Fox, owner of local store Fox Fine Jewelry, has so far seen around 15 stones she believes were switched.

“The experience has been awful,” she says. “These people have come in and then you have to tell them that their diamond is a moissanite. There is shaking and crying.

“I think it has really shaken up people in the town, as it comes on the heels of the Sterling issues,” she adds. “It has led to a lot of distrust.”

Fox at first wasn’t sure how to handle it, but eventually decided to run an ad (pictured) addressing it directly.

“In light of recent events, we have checked many diamonds to verify them,” it says. “Most pieces are fine. But some are not. It is with deep sadness as we walk though this as a community.”

The ad concludes by offering free diamond checks.

Bob Lynn, owner of Lynn’s Jewelry Studio, has also had to deal with Jewelry Unlimited’s nervous customers. Out of more than 30 people who have come in, he believes about 15 pieces contained switched moissanites.

“People are devastated,” he says. “It’s just been horrible. Most people don’t seem to have any idea how emotionally involved people are with jewelry items—especially things that have come from family.”

He admits checking stones has been time-consuming, but feels he had no choice.

“This is something that has to be done for no charge, not just for the industry but for the community,” he says. “It’s set a few of the custom jobs back a bit. But most of the people have been understanding.”

He also put the word out about his diamond-checking service on Facebook, an email blast, and a local message board.

The DA declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation.

(Image courtesy of Fox Fine Jewelry)

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JCK News Director

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