Consider “birth marking” your stones. Several manufacturers, among them PhotoScribe (888-746-8672), offer this process whereby a laser is used to inscribe the stone with a secret code or serial number. Once a piece of jewelry has been repaired, you can look at it through a loupe to make sure your jeweler hasn’t made a switch.
Also, find out if the jeweler is a member of a trade organization such as Jewelers of America (800-459-0130) or the American Gem Society (www.ags.org or call 800-340-3028). The American Gem Society, based in Las Vegas, frequently conducts secret shopping excursions to and inspections of its 890 retail member firms.
In addition, consult your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbb.org) or chamber of commerce to find out how long the jeweler has been in business, advises Shaye Strager, spokesperson for the Jewelry Information Center (800-459-0130), a nonprofit trade association based in New York. The BBB can also tell you if any consumer complaints were filed against a particular jeweler. Strager also suggests that you request a complete description of your jewelry on your receipt; including the percentage of gold (given in karats) and description of your diamond, (the four Cs: cut, color, clarity and carat weight). This may provide the best protection of all.
Mail your consumer-related concerns to Ask Your Advocate at black enterprise magazine, 130 Fifth Avenue, 10th Floor, New York, NY 10011 or send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.