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Jeweler admits to selling fakes for last 16 years

By Brecken Branstrator

May 13, 2014

Williamsville, N.Y.--The New York jeweler charged with misrepresenting diamond simulants as the real thing pleaded guilty Friday to the charges brought against him, according to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office. 

Paul Blarr, 47, pleaded guilty as charged to one count of scheme to defraud in the first degree and 10 counts of grand larceny in the third degree, encompassing 89 victims who lost $630,000. These were the highest charges for which Blarr could have been convicted had he gone to trial.

He now faces up to 50 years in state prison, which is the maximum under New York law for a non-murder offense. His sentencing is scheduled for July 25 at 9:30 a.m. 

Blarr admitted that between Jan. 1, 1998 and March 21, 2014, he sold counterfeit jewelry, including diamond simulants misrepresented as real diamonds, at his two companies, RSNP Diamond Exchange and Amherst Diamond Exchange.

He pleaded guilty in front of Erie County Court Judge Michael Pietruszka, who then read the names of all the victims involved in the scheme to defraud charge and the grand larceny counts.

The DA’s office said in a statement that the time between his guilty plea and sentencing allows for further investigation into the jeweler’s business, including “items of jewelry entrusted by their owners to the defendant either for repair or for sale on consignment.”

These items now have to be returned to their rightful owners, and the office said that Blarr has promised to cooperate with the Amherst Police Department to do so.

“This has been devastating to him and his family. He’s not running from what happened here, and the judge recognizes that,” his attorney, Charles J. Marchese, told the Buffalo News.

He also noted that they believe the $630,000 figure “may have been inflated by using appraised values as opposed to monies actually paid to my client.”

Marchese did not respond to a request for comment from National Jeweler.

When the issue first came to light in March, Marchese was reported as saying that Blarr was a victim, and purchased the stones in question under the belief that they were real.

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In the month following, however, it came to light that the fraud might extend beyond misrepresenting simulants to include selling enhanced diamonds without disclosing them as such, switching colored gemstones or not selling the quality promised, and selling jewelry that was said to be solid karat gold but actually was gold-plated.