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Is the Customer Always Right?

Clarity Enhanced Diamonds

Today we pose a philosophical question to our readers: Is the customer always right?

At Raymond Lee Jewelers, we’re of the mind that yes, yes they are. However, a recent incident that left a bad taste in a customer’s mouth forced us to ask the question again, and our VP Lee wondered how you would have handled the following situation. A customer came in to our showroom in Boca Raton to sell a diamond. Lee met with her, evaluated her stone briefly, looked at her certificate, and offered her the amount that we’d pay for her stone. She, as any smart customer would, wanted to do her due diligence and get a few more offers to get the best price for her diamond. Lee said that she could come back any time if no one matched our offer, and the number he quoted her would still stand.
Lee normally gets two thumbs up for his customer service!
Some time later, the customer returned, and met with another buyer. This buyer happened to evaluate both the stone and certificate more closely and noticed an unusual notation on the certificate “C.E.” This notation stood for “clarity enhanced” meaning that the diamond had been treated. Raymond Lee Jewelers deals exclusively in natural diamonds that have never been altered to enhance their clarity; the stones are devalued by this alteration and are required, by law, to be identified as treated. This certificate was not as explicit as is typical in saying what the diamond was. The buyer explained to our customer that, unfortunately, Raymond Lee Jewelers doesn’t purchase artificially altered diamonds; they are less valuable than natural stones, and can be confusing to deal in. We prefer to stick with high quality, natural stones so as to avoid any confusion about the type of jewelers that we are. Understandably, our customer was very upset, and insisted that Lee honor her price. He felt that he couldn’t honor his word to her about the offer on the diamond while still upholding Raymond Lee Jeweler’s ethics, and she left. Clarity enhanced diamonds are, to begin with, stones of lesser quality than we would typically buy and sell. Most likely, a clarity enhanced stone is somewhere around and I1 or I2. Enhancing it will likely only get it up to an SI clarity grade, but the man-made treatments & enhancements devalue the diamond greatly and can even compromise the diamond’s structure.
Upset Customers = Upset Lee.
To use an analogy of how clarity enhancement affects a diamond’s value, imagine that you’ve just purchased a pair of fabulous Christian Louboutin shoes. The trademark lipstick-red soles are certainly attractive, but you’d prefer that they were your favorite color, purple. If you took them to your cobbler and had the soles painted purple, your Louboutins might be improved in your opinion, but their re-sale value would be all but void – the alteration detracted from something that was already beautiful to begin with. Had this diamond been in its initial state, inclusions and all, it’s much more likely that Raymond Lee Jewelers would have purchased it and simply sold it at a deep discount. However, it’s clarity enhanced status forced us to turn down the purchase, and forced Lee to retract his offer. So, dear readers, what do you think Raymond Lee Jewelers should have done? Should we have compromised our code of ethics by purchasing a stone that had been manipulated to make customers pay more? Should we have honored our policy that the customer is always right? Tell us in the comments below!

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