Reaction Mixed on Dateline Piece

As can be expected, not everyone was thrilled with the recent Dateline NBC exposé on diamond appraising that took a dim view of current industry practices.

The piece showed several instances of diamonds being sold for less than their “appraised value”—and warned that those appraised values can lead to increased insurance premiums. On-screen, appraiser Don Palmieri said the valuations were inflated and called that “shameful.”

In a statement, Jewelers Vigilance Committee executive director Cecilia Gardner said, “Deceptive appraisal practices have long been a problem in the industry, with wide negative impact on the consuming public. Deception of the category described in the Dateline NBC story could be a violation of FTC guidelines and many state and local consumer-protection laws.”

Palmieri, meanwhile, thought the show pulled some punches and could have even been tougher on the industry. “In the 1970s, [inflated appraisals] was something only the crooks were doing,” he said. “Now it’s become an [accepted] way of marketing commercial jewelry.”

The International Gemmological Institute, which was rapped for having grades and appraisals higher than other labs, said in a statement: “The objective of an insurance appraisal is to establish an accurate insurance position and to provide sufficient support in the event proof of loss or damage becomes necessary. All IGI retail replacement values are based upon national surveys (not local or regional). The retail replacement values on IGI reports are not for investment purposes, nor are they an endorsement of the price consumers should pay.”

It noted that “when securing insurance coverage for articles of fine jewelry, consumers should submit both the appraisal report and the receipt of sale to their insurance company.”

Zales, one of the retailers targeted in the story, declined comment to JCK. Wal-Mart did not return a phone call.

At press time, the Dateline piece could be viewed at www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8661995.