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warranty-fine-printA common question we get from clients is, “what kind of warranty and servicing plan” do you have for your diamond rings? We immediately know that some jewelry store has pitched them the lifetime guarantee gimmick. When we ask our client what they mean by guarantee, they usually answer something about bringing their jewelry back to the store every six months so they can examine it and something about getting free cleaning, but the other details get a little fuzzy. While not sure of the specifics, most clients think the warranty protects them against loss and damage.

Of all the shoppers who asked about a lifetime warranty, not one had ever seen a jeweler’s guarantee in writing.

Typically, a jeweler’s warranty program requires the consumer to bring their jewelry items back to the store every six months for their inspection. If the jeweler says any maintenance, repair or upgrade are necessary, the consumer must pay for those services or the warranty is voided. If the consumers have any other company repair or modify the jewelry item, the warranty is voided. This marketing gimmick keeps customers coming back into the jeweler’s store on a regular schedule and keeps them out of other stores.

Besides hoodwinking customer into coming back into the jewelry store, the danger with these implied warranties is that shoppers think they are covered for all types of problems and fail to purchase jewelry insurance. The fine print on most of these guarantees states the warranty does not apply to lost, stolen or abused items, but they never see the fine print until it is too late. Jewelry insurance covers loss, theft, and damage, which address almost everything that ever happens to a jewelry item.

We found one guarantee with the following wording:

“Your diamond is warranted against loss from the original mounting for the lifetime of the purchaser, providing it is examined at least every six months by a (jeweler’s name) authorized inspector and documented on this certificate. This warranty covers only loss, which is incurred through normal wear, and any unusual damage or accidental mishap will nullify this protection. Prongs must be intact and not separated, and any necessary repairs found during inspection must be made by (jeweler’s name) at the consumer’s expense. In the event of loss, (jeweler’s name) will replace your diamond with another of equal value. ($5,000 maximum merchandise liability)”

Take a good look at this warranty from the consumer’s perspective.

  • The consumer must pay for any maintenance or repair found at the six-month inspections or the jeweler can void the warranty.
  • The jeweler defines what “normal wear” and everything else is “unusual damage” which voids the warranty.
  • Any accident voids the warranty and an accident means anything the consumer did not intend to do will void the warranty. It is hard to think of what can happen to damage a jewelry item that does not involve “unusual damage or accidental mishap,” conditions that void the warranty.
  • The warranty is voided if the prongs are not intact or are separate (bent). Since I cannot think of one way a stone can be missing if the prongs are tight and undamaged, the warranty is of no value if a stone is lost.
  • The warranty effectively excludes loss, damage, or theft, which are standard protections with jewelry insurance.
  • The lifetime warranty is an effective marketing gimmick for the jeweler, but of very questionable value to the consumer.

About the only situation a warranty “might” cover is the jeweler’s negligence. Jewelry insurance protects for occurrences of lose, theft, and damage, while the jeweler’s “warranty” covers none of these. The big loser is the consumer who thinks they are covered by a jeweler’s warranty and fails to purchase jewelry insurance. If anything happens to their jewelry item, they are in for a rude awakening.

The “servicing plan” touted by jewelers boils down to steam or ultrasonic cleaning the jewelry. Since almost any jewelry store is happy to get you in their store, they will typically do this free anyway, even if you did not purchase the item there. Like the warranty, the servicing plan is long on hype but short on real value for the consumer.

Jewelry stores that cannot compete on quality and value have to resort to marketing gimmicks. They try to package the sale with these “perceived” values to compensate for the higher prices the consumer is paying compared to the diamonds and jewelry available at Diamond Source of Virginia. The wise shopper gets the best diamond value possible, purchases jewelry insurance, and does not fall for the “lifetime guarantee” gimmick.