Only those whose jewellery has been stolen know what a nightmare it can be.
Some of you may have read my article on how to tell if your diamond is real or fake. It doesn’t have to be the entire piece. Jewellery that has gone in for remodelling, or maintenance is susceptible too. Even if it is the precious stone has been taken – and everything else left, then your jewellery has been stolen.
It is always traumatic when a cherished piece of jewellery has gone missing, and in the case of theft is often heartbreaking. This is where a good insurer is crucial, and they can be a great support. There are a few other things you should do as well, which we will look at in this article.
Jewellery Scams or Fraud
It's not as described
Jewellery fraud or scams occur when you have been sold something that is not what it is claimed to be (for example a diamond which is a much lower specification than described, or in worst case, is not even a diamond).
What is important here is that you always check what you own, in the latter case before and after. You should never buy a high value diamond without having viewed it yourself, unless you really know and trust the company. I’ve said it in other diamond blogs, if it sounds too good to be true..it probably is!
Remodelling or repair precautions
A more common example of fraud would be sending your jewellery off to be repaired or reset, and stones being switched, or indeed, entire pieces. This still isn’t a frequent occurrence, but it does happen.
When we take jewellery in for remodelling, I provide my clients with a list of their jewellery, articulating materials and condition as seen. I will go through the piece condition with them, and where possible I ensure that they can see what I see.
It is definitely worth ensuring that you always go through your jewellery with a retailer or workshop before any work is carried out. A switch often is opportunistic. If you have made a big show of checking everything in their presence, this is a big deterrent and take a picture. I’ve know of cases where precious stones or jewellery has been stolen and went unnoticed for a couple of years. This makes any claims pretty tenuous from an insurer’s perspective. I always check all jewellery when I have it back, before it goes in front of a client, because I expect the client is going to want to check everything too.
You might wonder why people would even try to get away with something like this, unfortunately the simple answer is – because they do. But being vigilant yourself is a very strong deterrent.
What should I do if I think I have been defrauded?
- First and foremost, act quickly. You should check your jewellery before leaving the premises. If you think it is not what you paid for/put in then raise it there and then. Sometimes it will uncover a mistake or mix up and you will find your stones are put back etc. If your jewellery has been posted to you, check it very carefully and raise any issues right away.
- If your enquiry is met with denial, get your jewellery checked by an expert. This could be a registered valuer or a reputable jeweller who uses experts. It is also worth checking whether your jeweller is a member of the NAJ which is the UK trade body and holds its members accountable.
- If it turns out your jewellery is not what it was supposed to be, next steps are to contact the police and report the swap. In the case of a new purchase (but also in the case of a swap) Trading Standards should also be contacted.
- Alert your insurers;
- Most insurers would want evidence that the ring was legitimate at one stage – perhaps proof of purchase or a previous valuation. More on this in the next section on theft.
- The insurer will also want the crime reference number, as well as full details of the jeweller/servicer if they are sure the swap took place with them
Speed is important here, as the faster you act, the more chance you have of either retrieving your original stones, or being refunded.
In the case of theft
What should I do if my jewellery has been stolen?
- Again, it pays to act quickly, not least while everything is fresh in your mind. Contact the police and ensure you receive a crime reference number.
- Your insurer is likely to want documented evidence of your jewellery, receipts and a valuation so ensure you have all these together.
I have heard of people finding their missing property on Facebook, Ebay or Gumtree. In the case of jewellery, this is not impossible, but pretty rare. In a lot of cases the jewellery will have been dismantled, or else is very difficult to trace. If you stone is certified with the report number engraved on the stone, be sure to notify the certifying body. Stolen diamonds with fake certificates have been recovered by vigilant jewellers.
With stolen jewellery, it is the insurer who really makes the difference. And you will have no idea how bad your insurer is until something goes wrong.
Who is a good jewellery insurer?
I tend to recommend my clients to a couple of insurers I work with – TH March who specialise in jewellery, and Insurance Tailors who offer more comprehensive policies which are as the name suggests, tailored to the client requirements. I am happy to recommend them, because I know that if something goes wrong, my clients will receive an excellent service and things will be resolved speedily. There are others too. But you may find with a cheap policy, if your jewellery has been stolen then your options are pretty limited;
- There may only be cover for jewellery items whilst they are being worn by the insured – so even if the item was genuine it would not be insured whilst being serviced
- Indemnifying (settling) is much more restrictive, for example you may have to use their approved services and they may not offer a cash settlement option which means you have to go down the High Street if you want a replacement for your antique diamond ring.
- Restrictive Inner policy limits – there’s usually only cover for jewellery items up to a certain limit (i.e. £5k or £10k)
- Regular valuations required (usually every 3 years) – if you have not completed had these done then you risk invalidating your insurance
- Jewellery is an emotional area, and in the event of theft, it is something that you wish to have addressed as soon as possible. If the insurer is dragging their heels this can make things more distressing, indeed I’ve had clients who have complained that it has been like the insurer has been accusing them!
Make sure you use quality professionals for your jewellery insurance – comprehensive insurers will have a list of recommended suppliers and services who are trusted that you can use at your choosing, but they also appreciate that you may have your own relationships with a supplier and will give you total flexibility. A lot of the cheaper insurance policies have a restrictive list because they get a financial ‘kickback’ from working with their suppliers. Ask as many questions as you can before committing to anyone.
Insurance Tailors says that for valuable pieces a good insurer is keen on regular valuations. This is because if the jewellery item is specified on a policy then insurers will only pay up to that value (minus any excess, if applicable). The value of jewellery fluctuates hugely so valuations are way of making sure that your precious belongings are insured for the correct amount. Jewellery values have increased about 15% in the last two years just in the middle end, so it does make a difference if your jewellery has been stolen – not least in what you can claim for.
Any Other Thoughts?
- Keeping photos of your jewellery pieces is very helpful. These images are less about ‘pretty pictures’ and more to focus on the make up of the piece, and it’s condition. Best to use a white sheet of paper, photocopier is good as any texture can distract the camera lens. If you have a macro zoom on your phone then this is helpful. A camera will often take a better close up shot. If your jewellery has been stolen, and it is bespoke this will be invaluable.
- If your stone has a certificate number inscribed on it, make sure you know where it is. They are very difficult to read unless magnified, but you can get an expert to do this. With all my settings apart from rubover (which is a bit tricky!) I always have the stone certificate number between the claws, so it can be read.
- It really is about trust! Read testimonials, look for evidence and find out who has had good experiences, and where. To be fair on a lot of retailers, if something goes wrong, it can be a rogue element within the company. And businesses are quick to respond to this, as they don’t want the poor publicity.
It is worth stressing that you will hear lots of stories on the internet of all sorts of cons, but actually workshop swaps are very rare. There is always the risk of theft, but there are sensible precautions you can take to minimise this as well. So please don’t go treating nice jewellers like they are potential crooks, the jewellery industry is a very conscientious one and you could damage a good relationship. Conversely, do not be offended if the retailer goes over your piece with a fine toothed comb. They want to check that they are not receiving a cubic zirconia ring if you have said it is a three carat diamond!
(I do advise you stay away from diamond investment schemes though!)
Want some more thoughts? Read 6 jewellery insurance tips to avoid heartache.