Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/resetting diamonds


Hi Thomas,

My mother left a ring to me that had a diamond on either side of a pearl.  The pearl has been lost and I now want to reset the diamonds as a pair of earrings.  How do I ensure that the diamonds I entrust to a jeweller are the diamonds that he/she returns to me in the new setting?

Pam, your concern is not unusual but there is normally little reason to be overly concerned.

Having the gems reset into earrings is a great way to keep the gift "alive".  So, you are concerned that the jeweler might switch the stones.   This is one of the more difficult questions to answer. In the most part, the answer is a matter of trust and in understanding what motivation an unscrupulous jeweler would have to replace you diamonds with inferior goods and the motivation beyond intrinsic honesty a jeweler has NOT to switch your stones. Keep in mind I know nothing of the jeweler with whom you will be doing business and cannot speak directly in that regard.

Pam, the most foolproof approach is to have an appraisal of the diamonds, including all identifying characteristics of the stones. This allows a second look at the stones after set into earrings mountings to assure the same characteristics are present in the stones.  You might find the cost of appraisal too much to take this approach, depending on the sizes of the diamonds. Smaller gems may not justify an appraisal or be suited for accurate appraisal beyond weight, cut, color and basic clarity evaluations. This will provide market value which may be compared with the stones when in earrings.

I generally recommend you look for a higher end jeweler with an established and reputable business(among other things located in an actual physical store location with several years of doing business). Local business registries (such as the Better Business Bureau in the United States) will be able to provide records of complaints against the business or lack thereof.

Consider this: Beyond normal economic factors, one characteristic that will keep a jeweler successful is "honesty" and high level reputation. A store whether local or part of a large chain will have a reputation, mostly known by word of mouth and by its customers. Customers will be repeat customers, having found the jeweler who provides what they want and in whom they place trust. A rumor of dishonesty and poor reputation can close the business almost overnight.  An established business with higher level clientele and several years of doing business behind it will not have motivation to take the chance of being found dishonest.  The risk simply is not worth it! A reputable jeweler has pride in quality of merchandise, in having happy repeat customers, in providing high level service and certainly in being honest with customers.

Pam, if you believe an appraisal is what you need, look for a business with suitable credentials. This link tells a little about various schools offering certification to graduating students, including those in Canada. Also, the American Gem Society has a Canadian affiliation.  Scroll down the page to see listings and brief descriptions.

I suggest you visit a local jeweler and be up front with your concern. The manner in which your concern is handled will tell a lot about that particular jewelry business.  Jewelry businesses hear this sort of concern and you are certainly not the first, even with "stone switching" being generally unfounded and arising more form lack of familiarity with the business. You might ask to be told something about the diamonds, basics such as cut and weight and to take a look through a microscope.  This means removing the stones from the ring but that must be done anyway in the process of resetting.  The cooperation and assurances you receive will say a lot about the jeweler.

Christmas is a busy season and some stores cut off service work during the holiday season. You will be wise to visit a few stores a couple of weeks after the holidays when activity has ground down to a slow pace.

Please get back with me if you have additional questions, now or after visiting a jeweler about the resetting. In the meantime, I wish joy, peace and happiness to this holiday season and beyond.

God Bless. Thomas.  

Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals

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Have a question about jewelry repair or working with precious metal jewelry and gemstones? For many years up to December 31, 2010, I was a working professional bench jeweler, involved everyday with setting stones in mountings, designing and making jewelry, repairing and limited custom manufacture. If you work with jewelry as a hobby or as a profession, I might be able to help. I deal with the retail business, not mass production. Ask privately if you wish. See the box for that: It keeps your question between us. Please DO NOT ask MAKER'S MARKS, but metal quality marks are fine to ask. Please DO NOT ask diamond prices. See a gemologist for that.


I have extensive experience in design, service and making of jewelry. I deal mostly with precious metals and gemstones but work with many materials as needed and usable to create an artistic design. My experience also includes freelance photography and photographer of jewelry and similar items for a former employer and individuals. Design of custom items requires reading the desires of the client and being clear on what can be done within that framework...then fulfilling the transition of idea to reality. Effective communications is essential in a working designer/producer and customer relationship.

Education is English/Physics! Started in human resources, to advertising, to, what a road. I have had formal training in jewelry work and many shared experiences with top grade jewelers. We just never know were we will go or be. Follow your best, your dreams, with some discretion! Don't let the work tear up your body along the way as it has mine.

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