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What jewelers can learn from the NY larceny case

By Brecken Branstrator

April 03, 2014

“There’s the saying that ignorance is no excuse, and that definitely applies here.”

New York--News broke recently that a New York jeweler faces multiple felony charges for allegedly selling moissanite and other man-made stones that he misrepresented as real diamonds. 

The investigation into this case is ongoing and, while it remains to be seen what the outcome will be, the case brings to light an issue that jewelers should not ignore--they are responsible for the quality of the stones that are sold at their store and for representing them accurately.

“There’s the saying that ignorance is no excuse, and that definitely applies here,” said Jewelers Vigilance Committee CEO and President Cecilia Gardner.

If a jeweler is selling a stone that they call a diamond and don’t note otherwise, they are guaranteeing that it is a natural diamond and are held to their word, she said.

“In my opinion, since retailers are responsible for the stones that they are representing, they have to do due diligence to make sure that what they are representing is accurate,” Gardner said. “If you do nothing to ensure that it’s accurate, you will be held liable.”

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Police confirmed to National Jeweler earlier this week that 47-year-old Paul Blarr, the owner of RSNP Diamond Exchange on Main Street in Williamsville, N.Y., so far has been charged with three counts of grand larceny and one count of scheme to defraud, all of which are felonies.

The Amherst Police Department, which has jurisdiction over Williamsville, did not return a call placed Wednesday requesting an update on the case and charges. Local news sources have quoted Blarr’s attorney, Charles J. Marchese, as saying that his client purchased the stones believing that they were real.

Many of his concerned customers have been taking their stones to a neighboring store, Scanlon Jewelers, to get them checked, and the Amherst Police Department is using their Facebook page to encourage consumers to have their stones checked.

Gardner’s recommendation to avoid situations such as this is for retailers to exercise quality control. They need to institute a program to test stones from suppliers, at intervals chosen by the jeweler based on their capacity to do it.

While it wouldn’t necessarily guarantee that all fake stones would be caught, Gardner said, the effort to guarantee the promised quality has to be there. This also would help if a situation similar to Blarr’s were to ever occur--the retailer would be able to show that attempts at accuracy were made.