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Diamond Experts in Calgary Don’t Give Their Customers the Full Picture

A diamond ring is a big commitment – financially and emotionally. When buying one, you want to be confident that it’s worth the money and will hold up well over time. But a recent undercover investigation found some jewellery stores aren’t giving their customers the full picture about what they’re getting. The Jewellers Association of Canada says some retailers are selling rings with replacement values that are far above what an independent appraiser would deem their value to be. Peoples, Michael Hill and Ben Moss all told Marketplace they stand by their replacement values, which are based on a diamond’s four Cs: cut, clarity, colour and carat. But independent appraisers say these numbers can vary greatly.

Many retailers also don’t fully disclose where the diamonds in their store come from. While the diamond industry has guidelines on supply chain due diligence, these are not always followed by retailers. For example, the Peoples, Michael Hill and Ben Moss stores that Marketplace visited sold diamonds from a range of countries, including Russia, Namibia and India. And while the Peoples parent company Signet told its suppliers to avoid Russian-sourced rough diamonds following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, other companies do not have such policies in place.

Some retail associates were also unnecessarily exaggerating the value of their rings. When asked about their rings’ resale value, some said they appreciate over time and are “a good investment” because a diamond has “lasting beauty.” But multiple appraisers told Marketplace that the amount by which a used ring will resell for is not necessarily indicative of the resale or replacement value of its original purchase price.

One retailer that does take resale value seriously is Ann Louise Jewellers, which has 14 stores across B.C. and Alberta. When a customer comes in with a diamond that has a grading certificate from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), they’re offered an independent appraisal by a professional appraiser for free. But this isn’t the case at most of their other stores, where they simply hand customers a sample of the ring in a jewelry case that is open on all sides to let them choose the ring and diamonds on their own.

When we asked a salesperson at a Michael Hill store in Edmonton about this practice, she was surprised to hear that other stores do it too. She said this allows customers to get a better feel for the piece and make an educated decision. But independent appraisers say it’s misleading because it doesn’t give them the full picture of the ring’s condition. And while it’s true that some consumers do pay extra for the convenience of going to a single location, they might not be getting the best deal or even the correct ring size. A ring that’s too small can look disproportionate and lose its brilliance over time, while a ring that’s too large is harder to wear comfortably. This can be especially important for those with smaller hands or a tendency to put on oversized jewellery.