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These Women Say Kay Jewelers Swapped Their Diamonds For Fakes

May 29, 2016

One of the biggest moment's in any person's life is the day they get engaged to their true love. Whether you're asking the question or answering it, the feeling is unforgettable. For women, in particular, it's a moment many of them have grown up dreaming about. It's an occasion that she'll remember forever, and the engagement ring is a big part of that memory.

Gentlemen, it's time to listen up. In my personal experience, and in conversations with my male friends who were thinking of proposing/got married in the recent past, one thing became clear - not nearly enough men know that the engagement ring is not the wedding ring. For most of us, our exposure to the engagement/wedding process is largely through books, TV shows, and movies. All of them show a girl getting a big fancy diamond ring, and that's about it. Not enough guys (myself included) know that you need two rings - one for the engagement with the flashy diamond, and another, simpler band that will be worn day-to-day after the wedding. Learn from my mistakes and start saving up!

The one thing that pretty much everybody does know about engagement rings is that it's gotta be a diamond. As they say, diamonds are forever, which is why they're the symbol of choice to represent your everlasting love. Sure, not everyone can always afford it, but, if you can, that's what you get ... at least, that's what you hope you get. Sadly, as some brides and their shocked husbands are finding out, you may not always be getting what you paid for. Read on to learn more.

Chrissy Clarius thought the engagement ring her husband, Jim, got her was perfect. A solitaire diamond on a 14-karat white gold band.

Chrissy Clarius

Jim purchased the ring in 2010 for $4,300 from a Kay Jewelers in Maryland. It included a certificate of authenticity from the Gemological Science International - one of three organizations that Kay uses to certify their stones.

Chrissy Clarius

The ring was also backed by Kay's gemstone guarantee, which insures the stone against loss and damage, provided the customer brings in the ring every six months for an inspection. Chrissy says she was religious about getting the inspections and had sent the ring out for repairs approximately three times over the years.

In February, she took the ring to Kay for another checkup, and had it sent for repairs because the prongs were loose. The ring that came back, she says, didn't have a diamond in the setting anymore.

Chrissy Clarius

Chrissy became suspicious during the initial checkup, when the sales associate couldn't find the inscribed certification number on the diamond (all real stones are inscribed by the GSI). Although Chrissy says she never saw the inscription herself, her husband had seen it when he purchased the ring. Still, she trusted the jewelers and sent the ring for repairs.

When she returned to pick up the ring a month later, she inquired about the inscription number again. A manager told her that no inscription was ever found on the stone, but it matched every other detail on the certification card.

Unable to shake the feeling that something wasn't right, Chrissy took the ring to a different jeweler (Littman Jewelers) and asked them if they could certify the stone. They ran the test, and the results were absolutely shocking!

Chrissy Clarius

The stone turned out to be moissanite, a much cheaper lookalike stone! What's more, the stone was set in platinum instead of white gold. "I felt sick to my stomach," said Chrissy, who suspects that the stone was switched out during one of the repairs.

Both Chrissy and Jim were devastated to learn the truth. They even went to a third jeweler in Baltimore, which also showed the stone to be moissanite. Curiously, however, when they took the ring to Kay, it tested as a diamond.

Chrissy Clarius

When the ring was tested at Zales (owned by the same parent company as Kay), it also came up as a diamond. Yet, two independent stores both tested it as moissanite. I'm personally starting to wonder if Kay's parent company might have an issue with their testing equipment?

In the meanwhile, Chrissy was told by Kay's loss protection team that the matter is being investigated. She has also filed a police report in Baltimore county and filed a complaint with the Maryland attorney general's consumer protection division. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for Kay told Buzzfeed news that the company is "continuing to work with Ms. Clarius toward resolution" of her case.

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Since posting her story online, however, at least seven other women have come forth with similar stories of having their diamonds replaced by Kay.

One of the women is Hannah LaFlam, a wife and mother from Vermont.

Hannah LaFlam

Her husband, Jason, got her princess-cut solitaire ring for $4,500 around July of 2013. Naturally, she was over the moon and the ring was "perfect - a perfect diamond."

Hannah LaFlam

Like Chrissy, Hannah was also meticulous about getting her ring inspected regularly. In the course of those inspections, she sent it away for repairs twice - once to get it sized up when she was pregnant, and another time to get back down to size after she'd lost the baby weight. 

When she went to pick up her ring from Kay last week, she noticed something was off. Her GSI-certified Leo diamond, once full of light and color, didn't look the same. When she told an employee she wasn't sure if this was her diamond, she was simply told "it's just because you haven't seen it for a while."

Hannah LaFlam

Although she left the store, Hannah didn't feel right. This is her original diamond.

Hannah LaFlam

And this is the one she walked out with. According to her, it seemed bigger in size but lacked the brilliance of her original diamond.

Hannah LaFlam

Hannah decided to call Kay and get her certification number. She then went to an independent jeweler and asked the store to match the stone to the certification number. 

Hannah was right all along - the numbers didn't match. She took her ring back to Kay, and after an employee checked the numbers, the store admitted they'd made a mistake.

Hannah LaFlam

Hannah's diamond was eventually located in New Hampshire, and her ring was recently finally restored. To compensate her for her trouble, the company also threw in some gift cards. Unfortunately, the damage seems to be done, and Hannah said she's seriously considering not utilizing her warranty with Kay again, despite the fact that it's already paid up in full. 

Another unhappy customer, Heidi Stier-Rivera, say her negative experience left her so traumatized she no longer wears her engagement ring.

Heidi Stier-Rivera

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Heidi, a mom/stepmom of four, married her husband, Orlando, in 2007. He spent a lot of time choosing the perfect diamond before finally purchasing an SI1 diamond for $3,000. SI1 is a clarity level grade, meaning that the stone in question has no flaws that are visible to the human eye. While Heidi's diamond did have a small inclusion (flaw), it wasn't visible and never bothered her.

The ring/stone were originally purchased at a J.B. Robinson, also owned by Kay's parent company, in 2005. A few years later, that store closed down and was replaced by Kay. Heidi and Orlando were told they could continue their inspections/repairs to the same store.

When the setting on her ring started to wear thin in 2011, Heidi took it to Kay where she was told that she'd be better off with a new setting altogether. She agreed, and Kay sent the ring out for repairs. When it came back, however, she noticed something was wrong.

This is a picture of Heidi's original diamond.

Heidi Stier-Rivera

Here's the one she got back. She says it has a large, noticeable flaw that can be seen just off-center, to the right in the photo below.

Heidi Stier-Rivera

She was sure it wasn't her stone, so she took it to another jeweler to get it checked. They told her that her stone was not SI1, but rather just I, which is the next level down in clarity.

Heidi Stier-Rivera

She was shocked to learn that she now had an imperfect diamond. When she returned to Kay to confront them about it, they initially tried to say it's just the new setting which makes the inclusion on her stone look bigger. After a lot of hemming and hawing and offering excuses, however, they admitted that the stone she now had was an I and not an SI1.

Sadly, despite her complaints, she got nowhere with Kay. Eventually, she gave up and now has no desire to wear that ring because it makes her angry.

Heidi Stier-Rivera

“It’s not the diamond my husband got for me," she says. "It has no sentimental value for me anymore, I don't want to have an engagement ring that brings bad memories.”

When a BuzzFeed News correspondent visited a Kay location in Midtown Manhattan, they were assured that Kay has very strict policies to prevent these kinds of situations. Store employees always check certification numbers, and most even show the customer where it is.

BuzzFeed News

Furthermore, employees are also supposed to mark down if the stone has any chips or cracks, and inform the customer prior to taking the stone away. At the next level, repair workers also check the certification numbers during repairs and again after the repairs are completed. Additionally, many of Kays store employees are certified diamontologists who would easily spot differences in stones. One company official speculated that some of these claims might be the result of the customer not having been provided enough information when they dropped off the ring.

Sadly, all of those policies don't bring much comfort to the women in this article, who have had one of their life's most precious memories permanently ruined by the experience.

Chrissy says that she had dreamed of passing on her ring to her son some day. Even if the issue is resolved, she says, it's unlikely she'll ever get back the actual ring her husband proposed to her with. "Kay Jewelers took that from me, they stole it," she says. "That makes me feel robbed and so disappointed."

Hannah agrees, adding that "Things like this, it’s just taking those memories away."

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H/T: BuzzFeed

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