Chipped Diamonds

Can Diamonds Be Chipped?!?!

Unfortunately the surprising answer to this question is yes. Diamond is the hardest mineral substance known to man so you might be wondering why we have a page about chipped diamonds… Well, the key word here is mineral. Contrary to popular opinion, diamond is not the hardest substance in the world. In fact, you can scratch the surface of a diamond with a pop-top from a soda can.

Now that we’ve blown your mind, we might as well finish it off… You can crack a diamond in half trying to scratch glass with it! It’s true, if the diamond is at the wrong angle, or if you apply too much pressure, the diamond will cleave in half, maybe worse! Won’t little Johnny be surprised when that science experiment fails…

There is a substantial chip out of this round brilliant cut diamond which extends from the upper table facet, through the girdle and deep into the pavilion area. The chip is the result of the ring being struck against a kitchen counter top during an exercise session. The chip is so severe that it is difficult to distinguish the original shape of this round diamond which now looks more like a damaged square shape.

Although the odds of chipping your diamond during every day wear are quite slim, it is a possibility that you should be aware of so that you can take proper precautions. You can reduce your chances of damaging your diamond by not wearing it while participating in sports activities, gardening, rigorous housework, packing, moving, etc.

Believe it or not, the most dangerous time in a diamond’s life is during the cutting and setting processes because it’s then that the stone is subjected to the most pressure. Diamond setters probably break more stones than customers do, usually such accidents are the result of an inherent problem in the stone itself such as a thin girdle edge or an internal crack that is too near the stone’s surface. Sometimes however, damaging a stone is simply the result of inexperience or carelessness on the part of the jeweler.

For instance, the tip of this marquise shape diamond was seriously damaged while being tightened by a jeweler during a routine ring inspection. Notice how the entire right tip is broken off almost to the edge of the diamonds table facet. It’s a tragic story. The owner of the ring had taken it to her jeweler for a routine cleaning and quarterly inspection as required by her in-store insurance policy. Upon inspection, a sales clerk discovered that the center diamond was loose, so the ring was left with the store so that it could be tightened. Unfortunately, the ring owner’s eyesight is not good and she did not bother to inspect her ring under magnification when she picked it up, thus she did not notice that the jeweler had chipped her diamond.

In fact, the owner of the ring did not discover that her diamond was chipped until three months later when she took it in for another inspection and a new sales clerk brought it to her attention. The jewelry store was under new ownership and the in-store insurance policy denied her claim stating that it could not be proven that the damage was not due to abuse and neglect. The new owner suggested that the customer file a claim against her homeowner’s insurance company, and upon doing so they referred her to us for verification and replacement.

Upon inspection of the insured’s diamond, we determined that the diamond was secure in it’s seat and not loose or rocking in the head which holds it… The prong is set firmly against the stone’s surface and the chip actually comes up and around the prongs surface. Based on these facts, it is our opinion that the jeweler over-tightened the prong causing the diamond to fracture.

Fortunately for the insured, her homeowner’s insurance company authorized us to replace her diamond. However, the replacement cost of the diamond exceeded her policy limits and she had to pay the $2,000.00 difference. Furthermore, her insurance company could just have easily denied the claim because the ring was not specifically insured under the insured’s homeowner’s policy. There are a couple of lessons to be learned here:

  • Most homeowners insurance policies provide a minimal amount of jewelry coverage which is rarely adequate for replacement purposes. Therefore, you should always have your jewelry appraised by a Graduate Gemologist (GG) or similarly qualified expert and purchase additional insurance coverage which will provide for full replacement in the event of theft, damage, or accidental loss.
  • It has been our experience that most in-store insurance policies are rarely worth the paper that they are written on and seldom actually pay for loss or damage. The cost of in-store insurance policies are added into the purchase price of the jewelry item. They tend to be a great marketing tool, but are of little legitimate value for the customer.
  • Never leave your jewelry for repair, or pick it up from being repaired, without inspecting it under 10x or higher magnification in the presence of store personnel. Take nothing for granted.

Be aware that for reasons of liability, most jewelry stores do not like to be specific about what they accept for repair. For instance, it is standard practice to describe a one carat diamond solitaire engagement ring brought in for repair as “Ladies gold colored metal ring with round white stone.” Such descriptions are standard industry practice, and serve to protect the jewelry store from fraudulent accusations of stone-switching.

Despite such vague take-in practices, with proper preparation you can adequately protect your jewelry by being able to identify your diamond and verify it’s condition when you return to pick up your repairs. Reputable jewelry stores usually make it a habit to carefully inspect every piece of jewelry that they take in for repair and involve their customers by teaching them what to look for. The process is quite simple, draw a picture of the piece of jewelry on the repair envelope and include a separate drawing (“map”) of your diamond indicating the internal inclusions and any blemishes such as scratches, naturals, and chips. Next, record the approximate dimensions of your center stone by using a micrometer (ask the store clerk to assist you). Then, initial your drawing and ask the store manager or sales clerk to verify the condition and characteristics of your diamond by placing their initials next to your sketch.

Most jewelry stores will not specify the clarity, color, or carat weight, of a diamond accepted for repair because it is difficult to ascertain while a stone is mounted. However, with proper documentation of the jewelry item on the repair envelope, it would be terribly foolish (and bold) of a jeweler to switch your center stone because it wouldn’t have the inclusion pattern portrayed on the repair envelope. Likewise, it would be difficult to dispute the presence of a chip not previously noted on the repair envelope.

Note: A reputable jewelry store should not be offended by your effort to protect your investment, the process is no different to that of inspecting the condition of a rental car before taking delivery of it, or walking through an apartment before you rent it… The reality is that there are dishonest jewelers out there, and accidents do happen, therefore you have the right to reasonable precautions.

In the event that you believe your diamond (or other jewelry item) has been damaged while in the care of a jeweler, do NOT remove your property from the jewelry store or you essentially release the store from liability! Instead, quietly ask to speak to the store manager, and request written acknowledgment of the damage, and that they replace or repair the damage without cost to you. If they refuse to cooperate, or you are not satisfied with their response, simply refuse to take delivery of the jewelry item and advise them your insurance company will be in contact with them. Let your insurance claims agent settle the dispute for you, it is in their best interest to see that the jewelry store takes responsibility for its mistakes. Do NOT threaten legal action, or make a scene, doing so can actually cause you to become civilly liable for any monetary loss that the store incurs as a result of your damaging their reputation or causing another customer to leave the store (loss of business).

In the event that your diamond is chipped, there are several options available to you depending on the severity of the damage:

  • If the diamond is properly insured, you can file a claim with your homeowner’s insurance company and have the diamond replaced.
  • If the damage is minimal, you may be able to have the diamond re-cut. However, the proportions of a re-cut diamond are frequently inferior to those of the original and substantial weight loss is a consideration.
  • If the chip is minute and does not pose a danger to the remainder of the diamond, you can choose to ignore it and/or re-set the diamond in a setting where it will be better protected.

Chipped Diamonds For Sale:

The value of a diamond declines dramatically when it is chipped, regardless of the size or location of the chip. When an insurance company pays to replace a diamond that has been chipped, the damaged diamond becomes the property of the insurance company. In an effort to reduce their losses, many insurance companies frequently allow jewelry stores and cutting houses to purchase their “insurance salvage” for pennies on the dollar.

It is not uncommon to find insurance salvage for sale in retail jewelry stores, however it is usually not represented as such. Salvage stones that re-enter the market as “bargains” are usually re-set so that the chip is hidden under a prong or bezel (gold framework).
When purchasing a diamond, carefully view the diamond under 10x magnification (or higher) from all angles and pay particular attention to the facets along the girdle edge of the stone. If you discover that the diamond you are considering is chipped, it does not necessarily mean that it is insurance salvage. However, it is reasonable to assume that the jeweler paid much less for it than he would have for a diamond of comparable quality that was not damaged.

In addition, to inspecting diamonds for chips you should look for characteristics that could weaken the stone and cause it to chip later. It is advisable to avoid purchasing a diamond with cracks that extend close to the stone’s surface because it could make the diamond more susceptible to damage.