A San Antonio TV station has accused a pair of local jewelers of selling lasered and filled stones without disclosing the treatments.
According to a seven-minute TroubleShooters segment on NBC affiliate KCOL, area store Lloyd’s Jewelers didn’t reveal that a $4,000 stone bought by the show’s producers was fracture-filled.
Another local store, Gold Unlimited, didn’t tell producers its gem had a laser drill hole, the show reported. At the second store, the show’s producers even raised the topic of clarity-enhancement, only to have the salesperson say they didn’t sell such stones.
The stones were examined by local appraiser Kirk Root, whose findings were double-checked by the Gemological Institute of America. Both stores eventually gave the producers refunds.
Reporter Brian Collister became interested in the story after hearing about several consumer complaints about a local jeweler selling treated stones without disclosure. “It just seemed like an interesting topic,” he says. He notes the show was worth the effort. “Everywhere people have asked us about it,” he says. “We had people calling us, thanking us. It was definitely worth it from the feedback we received.”
Lloyd Herrara, owner of Lloyd’s Jewelers, told JCK that he had bought the diamond in question off the street and didn’t know it was filled. “After 27 years in business, this is the first time I had this kind of problem,” he says. He says he’s returned the filled stones in his inventory and will tighten take-in procedures but notes that he’s received only four phone calls from customers about the program.
The owner of Gold Unlimited, Sam Tawil, also claims he didn’t know his stone was drilled—and adds that the producers specifically searched for the stone in question. “They louped 50, 60 stones until they came up with that one,” he says. “It’s not like they walked in and bought a diamond and it happened to be lasered. They were here for an hour and a half.” Tawil insists that his store policy is not to sell lasered stones. “We bought that diamond in a piece,” he says. “The laser [drill hole] must have been under the prong, because I did not see it … After this incident, I had some gemologists come down. [The producers] found the only lasered diamond in the store. They made it seem like that’s the only thing we deal in.” He says he has heard from only one consumer about the story.
On a follow-up story, the station offered viewers a chance to have their stones examined by local gemologists at a two-hour clinic. Of the 91 stones examined, gemologists found 15 that had been subjected to treatments. The owners of the stones said they were never told about the treatments.
The story concluded: “This is not an industry-wide problem, and you shouldn’t be afraid to buy a diamond. Just get it checked with an independent appraisal. Don’t rely on the one from the store that sold you the stone.”
The story wasn’t all damning—of the eight stores the producers visited in the original story, six did not sell stones with undisclosed fillings or laser holes.