Is the Store Liable for Damaging My Ring?

Note: The DearEsq free 'ask a lawyer' site is offered as a free informational service to the public and is not intended as legal advice. Laws vary from state-to-state, and in addition every situation is unique, and relevant facts may not be known. The answer to the question posed below may not apply to in your state or to your situation. For legal advice in your state and your situation you should consult with an attorney in your state who is familiar with the rules and laws in your state.

I was school clothes shopping at a mall last year (2013) with my son. We passed a very well-known highly reputable jewelry store.. They were offering free cleaning of jewelry / rings. the little girl asked me if she could clean my rings ( I have a large aquamarine and diamond pave set engagement ring that has to be steam cleaned / ultra sonic because the stone is chemical sensitive). Anyhow she took the rings and I asked her to also check the stones in case there were loose ones. She said okay and off she went. I was looking around the store waiting when she brought them back to me. As I looked at my engagement ring I noticed two stones were missing from the side pave setting. So after bringing this to her attention she picked up a jar of cleaner (not meant for my kind of stone / ring); well there were no loose diamonds in the jar, then she went to the ultrasonic cleaner and supposedly could not find anything in there either. After telling her I wanted to talk to the manager, and explaining the story, he asked her if she checked the stones before cleaning them and she said “no”. Then I explained how she told me she had checked the stones because I asked her to. Then he asked her again and she replied that no, she didn’t check the stones she forgot because she was new but didn’t want me to be upset that she forgot, so she lied to me. Anyways, the manger offered to fix the missing stones free of charge, but the ring had to be sent out to repair . I reluctantly agreed but it was a nationally known jeweler, what could go wrong, right? Needless to say a lot. They called to let me know the ring was in and that I could pick it up anytime. So I go to store get my ring and as I’m looking at it I notice that two more side stones are now missing, and the center stone is different in size, color, and shape! I mention to the salesmen my concern but was told I didn’t know what I was talking about, and they did nothing to the center stone. We argued for awhile and then I said that regardless, there were still two diamond side stones missing again. He wrote up paperwork to have the ring fixed, and handed me the copies of the paperwork and I left. As I got to my truck I realized he had mistakenly given me a work order slip that clearly stated they had replaced my aquamarine center stone because they had shattered it trying to repair side stones. So he knowingly lied to me and made me look like an idiot in front of other customers, saying that I was a liar and that I didn’t know anything about my stone and made me feel like an idiot. I went back and confronted him with the repair order, and he didn’t know what to do or say. I still think he knew the whole time but was trying to cover it up. Anyhow it is now a year later and they still have my ring which is not fixed right. It took 10 months to get a stone that was comparable in size, color and clarity that was also not man made or heat-treated. Finally after 3 customer care people and 4 managers / sales people, we sort of agreed on a stone that was close to the 4 Cs of the original stone, but not really. I was told that they could not get the quality of stone I had so it was either this stone or none! They have done so much work to the ring that it doesn’t even look the same plus the new center stone (which is smaller in carat weight and size) is crooked and missing diamonds, engraving of 14k is missing as well as engraving on the ring that matches my wedding band (which by the way was a matching set). There are still four side diamonds missing in the bezel setting. I was also supposed to get a new appraisal for my home owners insurance. They offered to send it to my family jeweler to have fixed but no jeweler will touch it now. Now they keep trying to get me to sign for it then bring it back to get fixed for the fifth time. I will not take possession of the ring for fear if I do they will say I accepted it and now they are not responsible anymore! What do I do and what legal rights do I have? I have all receipts and writings stating it was their fault to begin with.

We understand your reluctance to take possession of the ring under these circumstances. Unfortunately, depending on where you live and whatever paperwork you originally signed, the jeweler may (or may not, again it depends on where you live) be able to consider the ring to be abandoned property after a certain period of time, and if that is the case they would then be able to dispose of it or sell it off. For that reason, you should really consult with an attorney in your area, who is familiar with the laws covering personal property in your area. Also, depending on the original value of the ring, you may be able to take the jeweler to small claims court for the value that has been lost due to the ring being damaged. But again, you need to talk with an attorney in your area. Most attorneys will offer an initial consultation for free, or for a small fee.