Jewelry, Gems, & Minerals/VS diamonds becoming cloudy during prong repair
QUESTION: I took my 18k ring containing 46 VS diamonds to a jeweler for repair as one of the corners had small "rough" spot and I was concerned that I would loose a diamond. When I picked my ring up from the repair- the ring was shining more than usual-which I questioned at the time of pickup. Eleven weeks after the repair )in natural light) I noticed that 3 of the 46 VS diamonds were cloudy. Upon further inspection with a 10X loupe I the side with the cloudy diamonds looked as though it had melted and had tiny holes in what was a solid 18k frame. I was told that the heat used during the repair would not cause the diamonds to discolor and the jeweler is not taking any responsibility to the damage done during the repair. The cost of the ring was 8,500. Is it possible that three of the diamonds could have been discolored during the repair and what could have been used to disguise the damage done to my ring? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
ANSWER: Dear Jill, thank you for the question and your patience. Allexperts has let me down terribly by not sending email notifications of pending question, causing some questions to be answered later than I would like. I just now found your question on the site and have not been notified that you had asked a question of me. I have received no replies from allexperts or their mother web presence, about.com. after at least 10 inquiries to every technical and customer support address they offer. Sorry to bother you with this. I normally answer questions the same day received and being late does not suit me well.
Now, to what is important and that is your ring. Regardless of what the jeweler has said, diamonds will burn and the typical result is a frosted look on the surface. This is caused by over heating or excessive time of a flame on the stone. When a setting is built up using a torch, the need for careful control of metals, solders and heat is imperative. While heating one part of a ring to apply a section of new metal, it is surprisingly easy not to notice the actual placement of the flame and some of that flame in the hottest part of the flame may be on diamonds to the side. Or, the jeweler may be attempting to fuse (melt) new metal in place or is using too high a temperature of brazing solder. What the reason may be, intense heat on a diamond can and will burn the surface. this is generally not seen until the ring is cooled, cleaned of soldering residue and examined. At that point, the option is to replace the burned gem. I have burned diamonds inadvertently and doing that is certainly in the list of "it can happen" events a good jeweler does not want to see in his or her work. The bright polish is likely due to finishing applied at the buffing machine as a next to final step in the job.
Is the ring white gold? If so, working temps are generally higher than with yellow 18k. The ring may have been given a rhodium plate to provide a uniform color to all, essentially a whiter than white gold look typically applied to white gold from the manufacturer.
I could not find good link to an image of a burned diamond. Think about it having a slight haze obscuring the polish of the gemstone, generally on a part of the surface but possible on the entire exposed surface. Ir looks quite a bit like frost. The atmosphere does not provide enough oxygen for the stone to catch fire and go up in smoke so heat damage is limited but still destroys the appearance of the stone, certainly an important factor when the stone were of a vs grade to start.
I am nor certain what you mean by "disguise the damage to your ring". Please use a follow up to get back with me on that if it is necessary.
Jill, if there is a rather high grade jewelers in your area, you might ask the jeweler or other qualified person there to take a look and see if the gems are "frosted". The idea is not to involve the new jeweler but to support what appears to be the situation already. Jewelers do not like to be asked to critique another jeweler's work but this should be an easy one to answer.
Pinhole looks sometimes come from overheated solders, an almost expected result of heat which would burn or frost a diamond.
Please get back with me using a follow-up if you need more info. (I will leave off the opening rant!, sorry about that.)
God Bless and Peace. Thomas.
If you will be so kind as to rate this answer, I will appreciate it very much. Again, sorry for being a day or two late.
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QUESTION: Thank you for responding Thomas:) the top of the ring where the main stone sits surounded by 46 vs diamonds is 18k yellow gold - the band of the ring is 14k white gold. When I brought the damage to the attention of the owner - I asked if the jeweler was aware that the part she was working on was 18k (thinking the torch may have been set to high) as I did not mention it when I left the ring for repair. Her response was of course and when she asked the jeweler in front of me if the torch could have damaged the stones- she was quick to say no - concluding that I must have rubbed the ring against Brick as I was at Lowes when I discovered that three stones were not shining. I clean my jewelry almost daily - which makes it hard for me to believe that I didn't see it sooner? I did have a jeweler tell me that she may have put a coat of Rhodium on it which would make the stones shine - but that it would wear off with time. If this is the case and she did coat it to cover up the damage I'm thinking that my obsessive ness to clean my diamonds may have worn off what ever she put on them? I had to show the owner the GiA cert on the ring and all other paperwork to prove the diamond grade. This business designs and makes custom jewely so I'm sure they would have something on hand to help cover up the damage. The diamonds were small - so I think it would have been hard for her to take them out, Polish and return to the setting. I appreciate you helping me to understand what happened to my ring while being repaired. Thanks again for responding. Jill
Your comments are treated as a question and here is the reply. This time it came to my email right away. Follow-ups tend to do that.
Jill, either the jewelers are ignorant that a diamond may burned and given a frosty look from the damage or they are deliberately deceitful.
To keep things clear, rhodium only adheres to metal and not to gemstones. The stones may have been given a coat of cement of some water clear type, waxed or a multitude of other things even like furniture polish. Then again, maybe the damage was not hidden but not so apparent as to catch your eye immediately. The view with a loupe is quite revealing and the naked eye may not see the frosting on smaller gems, even quite reflective VS qualities...sometimes the light has to strike the stone at just the proper angle with your vision.
Bricks? A stone may be chipped but a brick does not frost a diamond by abrasion. A brick is very soft compared to diamond, the hardest of all substances. And was the ring also scuffed? I see evidence that the jewelers are misleading you through ignorance or deliberately. If from ignorance, more diamonds will be damaged in the future of that work shop!
Small stones are regularly set into jewelry and may be removed and reset, albeit with some skill and attention required, backed by experience. That work is not easy but is within the skill set of a good professional jeweler.
I am impressed by your determination to keep your ring clean. Lack of that sort of attention is the very reason I have seen so many ladies who just discovered a stone is missing! How did that happen!..The rings have generally not been properly cleaned or checked in years. Jill, good for you!
Thanks for getting back with me. God Bless and Peace, again, more is better! Thomas.
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QUESTION: Thomas, Thank you again for the information. This jeweler is most definitely untruthful and when I went back with the ring 11 weeks after discovering the cloudy stones and the side of the ring, I was treated poorly from the time I entered the door. The jeweler examined the cloudy stones for authantucity - all while the owner drilled me as to where else I had taken the ring. Insisting that I was responsible for the damage. The cloudy diamonds were visible with the naked eye and when examined under a 10x loupe they looked like they had soot on them. This is why I thought the setting on the torch may have been too high. Needless to say, in spite of not admitting they were responsible, the owner agreed to make it right by replacing the cloudy stones. When I picked the ring up after this repair, within an hour of arriving home a stone close to the canary diamond on the top tier fell out in my sink while I was cleaning lettuce. I immediately placed the ring in a bag for fear of losing more diamonds and retuned to the jeweler the next day for the replacement of this diamond. It wasn't until later that evening (after my husband pickd it up) that I took an extra good look at my ring where all of the diamonds had been replaced.... She had replaced the three cloudy diamonds with larger stones. The end result was the ring bowing on the repaired side. The diamond replaced on the second tier (next to the canary diamond (valued at over $5,000.) on the repaired side had a drop of gold almost the same size as the replaced diamond on top of it. At first glance I thought a piece of black thread had become lodged in the ring... But upon further inspection with my loupe - it was the drop of gold that was creating a shadow.. I never took the ring back to them, and filed a complaint with the BBB that they are fighting, and laying the blame on me. The setting was replaced and the diamond reset. We are in the process of trying to recoup the cost of replacing the setting as well as the cost of the original repair that caused all this to begin with. The sad part is that honesty would have served them better than trying to "cover it up" as i would have chose a different solution than having the ring basically destroyed due to the Jewelers lack of experience by allowing them to remove and replace the cloudy diamonds that she damaged. You have been extremely helpful and I will continue on my quest to expose them. Based on my experience with her... this jeweler has done this before and I'm sure my ring won't be the last botched repair and coverup. Doing the right thing is always the right thing to do. Thanks again for your help. God bless - Jill
Jill, I hope your complaint to the BBB brings some good from the entire affair. When I have been around business owners who behave like this: "The jeweler examined the cloudy stones for authenticity - all while the owner drilled me as to where else I had taken the ring. Insisting that I was responsible for the damage" invariably employees wishing to stay employed often follow the same behavior patterns of the owner. Unfortunately, a person can establish a poor reputation which is irreparable and so can thr business.
Why not be honest and stick to it? I simply do not understand that approach to working with others in every day living and certainly not in a public business. Unfortunately, while a summons to small claims court if often effective, a judge might see this as a she said, he said thing without enough substantiating evidence.
Again, my wishes are for the right ending to come about for you.
God Bless and Peace. Thomas.