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Worried About Ebay Purchase Of Diamond Ring.


Guitar1979
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Hello,

 

I recently bought a Tiffany and Co Etoile diamond ring on ebay and am worried. The reason for my concern is the seller told me they were the original owner. I went to Tiffany to get the ring re appraised and they attempted to search for the owners name and the serial number. They couldn't find the owners name, and I asked the seller who the original owner was. Now the seller is admitting that they are not the original owner but that they purchased it from someone else. I now need to follow up with the new name at Tiffany and Co tomorrow and I have my doubts already.

 

I have some pictures of the markings inside the ring. I was hoping I may be able to get some expert opinion before I go to Tiffany and Co again.

 

Thank you in advance.

 

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Tiffany is famously uncooperative on this sort of thing and I'm surprised you got as far as you did.  Most of the stores won't authenticate and change the registered owner even in cases where you inherit directly from the original owner and even is you are willing to pay a hefty fee for the privilege.  

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On the other hand... if your concern is about authenticity, Tiffany should be able to help simply by confirming that the serial number corresponds to an actual Tiffany platinum Etoile ring.

 

FWIW, I bought one of these (but with diamonds) new back in 2001, and it has no number - nor does it have a complete "Tiffany & Co." stamp, but it's simply marked "T & Co." and "PT 950" - however both of these may be due the presence of the diamonds that would prevent a longer mark from being applied, not to mention that in 10+ years Tiffany's standards (and their subcontractors') for marking may well have changed.

Edited by davidelevi
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Wow thank you so much for the replies everyone. The style of this ring is one solitaire diamond and then platinum band. I should have taken photos of all of it, but it's the markings I was hoping to get further insight on, the workmanship on the setting looks fine.

 

Jgianne, that is really interesting. I'm wondering what does the serial number font look like? That's an older Tiffany stamp, it doesn't even have the c symbol. It's interesting that they do change their font and style throughout the years.

 

I do suspect the ring I have currently is a very old ring as well, I'm thinking 6-10 years old.

 

Denver, yes, I confirmed the store policy today. They can only issue revaluations for the original owner or someone who has been gifted the ring. It will also be in the original owners name or the gifted persons name. Proven by either looking up the database with the owners name (which was what they hoped to do the first day I went in), store receipt or inheritance letter etc. that's why I was so disappointed with the seller lying to me, as I would have been okay with a revaluation in her name. However I don't think the seller understood how strict T and Co can be.

 

Daviddelvie - I think i know the band you mean, with many small diamonds dotted through the ring?

 

I took the ring today to the local jeweller, he confirmed the ring was platinum and set with a diamond. He also without any promoting, or packaging from me did just presume it was Tiffany from the markings. At that stage I was asking about base worth, and he said to definitely not to break apart a Tiffany ring for its base materials.

 

I've left it with Tiffany to be polished at the moment.

 

Meanwhile the seller has gotten back to me saying I can return it if I would like. Honestly if they had gotten back to me this morning before I dropped it off at the Jeweller and then back at Tiffany I would have returned it.

 

However now at least I know the base worth of the diamond and platinum is worth just a bit less than what I paid for. Tiffany seems to have accepted it as one of their own rings currently and haven't had any concerns over the certificate or the ring itself yet. I hope it gets back successfully polished.

Edited by Guitar1979
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Daviddelvie - I think i know the band you mean, with many small diamonds dotted through the ring?

Yes, that's the one.

 

Tiffany seems to have accepted it as one of their own rings currently and haven't had any concerns over the certificate or the ring itself yet. I hope it gets back successfully polished.

This is the main thing, together with you having paid a reasonable price. Hope you enjoy it!
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Jgianne, that is really interesting. I'm wondering what does the serial number font look like? That's an older Tiffany stamp, it doesn't even have the c symbol. It's interesting that they do change their font and style throughout the years.

 

There are no serial numbers on this ring, purchased at the Short Hills NJ store that year.  We have a woman's wedding ring also purchased -- 39 diamonds, channel set -- that also has only company name & platinum marking.

 

The man's ring weighs 11 grams.  Platinum prices in mid-1998 were ~$350 troy oz, or ~$11.25/gram.  Selling price for the ring from Tiffany back then was about $1000, so it was a very good deal for them.

 

Note that one troy ounce is currently defined as exactly 31.1034768 grams.  (1 ounce = 28.3495231 grams.)  Since platinum closed yesterday at $1485. per troy ounce, weigh your ring (or use mine as a guesstimate), multiply by purity (95%), and now you know the metal's present worth: $1485 x 11/31.10 x .95 = ~$500

 

The serial number on yours might indicate a more exclusive set.  However, there may be one small discrepancy -- the Etoile collection from Tiffany currently comes with multiple diamonds.  You would need to review old catalogs to see when your style was offered, and if it was actually part of the Etoile collection.  It could be authentic Tiffany's but not part of that collection, IOW.  (The word is French for the lead dancer in a ballet company.  English does not have a word for that, but we do have "french fries" :) )

 

I don't think there is a big aftermarket in used Tiffany rings,  Maybe 20% over scrap, because of the marking.  In a way this is good; an aftermarket would mean counterfeits,  As it is, as long as it weighs & looks like platinum, you can be pretty sure it's Tiffany's.  It's a "keeper" simply because you don't run across them every day.

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Actually, étoile just means "star" in French... (and then by extension the leading character in ballet or a movie). But that's me being totally anal-retentive (just to use another French expression that is almost identical in English).

 

 

We of Sea Girt, New Jersey, do not sweat -- rather, we perspire.  The former is the sad milieu of the nouveau riche. Tsk!

 

I just spent an hour dumpster-diving "Tiffany platinum" listings on Ebay, and now have to gargle my eyeballs with bleach.  Guess there really is a big fake aftermarket, after all!

 

Tiffany does a great service for the diamond industry as whole, because they condition people to expect insanely high markups.  If you're able to buy authentic Tiffany at close to raw material price, you're either astute or very, very lucky.

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Frankly, I'm not understanding your objectives here.  Presumably the issue is insurance and if it's lost you would like it to be replaced with an item of like kind and quality.  That is to say, a 'genuine' T&C Etoille.   From Tiffany's perspective, you don't have that because you didn't buy it from them.   For the insurance company, what they're going to want is an appraisal signed by a credible source that says it's Tiffany.   Tif doesn't offer this service, but there's plenty of others who do.  If you lose it, will they replace with a genuine Tiffany?  That's going to depend on your insurer.  Most will but that's a question for them. 

The budget for that replacement is a whole different topic.  Most insurance companies base their premiums on the cost of replacement retail new although this isn't necessarily what they're agreeing to do.   Since Tiffany only sells direct retail, and they only sell new merchandise, that means that the question comes down to what does Tiffany charge to do that?  That's easy enough to look up.  Ask 'em.  I'm guessing you've already done that.

Much of the discussion above has to do with whether you got a 'deal' from your seller.  That's yet another different issue.  It doesn't seem like you're questioning if it's a counterfeit or a partial counterfeit (for example, a Tif mounting with an aftermarket stone set in it) so the issue here is how it compares in price to other used Tiffany made items available in the market.  Presumably you've done this research already as well. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Frankly, I'm not understanding your objectives here.  Presumably the issue is insurance...

 

The budget for that replacement is a whole different topic.  Most insurance companies base their premiums on the cost of replacement retail new although this isn't necessarily what they're agreeing to do.   Since Tiffany only sells direct retail, and they only sell new merchandise, that means that the question comes down to what does Tiffany charge to do that?  That's easy enough to look up.  Ask 'em.  I'm guessing you've already done that.

 

Much of the discussion above has to do with whether you got a 'deal' from your seller.  That too is a completely different issue.  It doesn't seem like you're questioning if it's a counterfeit or a partial counterfeit (for example, a Tif mounting with an aftermarket stone set in it) so the issue here is how it compares to other used Tiffany made items available in the market.  Presumably you've done this research already as well. 

 

On authenticity -- in the 3rd picture in the original post, it seems the stamp is perhaps misaligned.  I also saw one Ebay listing where the Platinum part was double-stamped.  I have no idea whether Tiffany would release a product where their own name is crooked.  (For that matter, I have no idea how I got scratches on the inside of my ring, since I never take it off.)

 

As to insured value, we're probably talking at most the price of a new big HD television, so presumably that would fall under a normal homeowner policy and not require a separate policy (or even a rider).  It's essential to adequately document the item and its purchase price, but if you lose a ring, you're probably losing a lot of other stuff at the same time.

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Hello, this thread exploded while I slept!

 

To answer try to answer everyone's questions in summary at once. I purchased the ring with the intent of possibly re selling it later. Therefore the appraisal from Tiffany and Co would be important from a resale point of view. When I was unable to determine the original owner I wanted to know, worse case scenario, if I needed to just sell the ring off as scrap metal - what would be my loss. I knew when I had bought it wasn't too far off cost, as the etoile ring does weigh quite a lot. The diamond has been diamond tested and from the T&Co diamond cert, should be G,VS2 0.27ct the metal is platinum.

 

I'm usually much more fussy and astute when purchasing but I'd just had a minor surgery the day before I purchased it, was browsing online, had been on pain killers, made an offer.... Anyhow I always worry when I purchase second hand, double, triple check everything, and only purchase with the complete paperwork. However because this was so close to cost and the seller said she was the owner I didn't think it would be too hard getting the valuations, so I was extremely disappointed I was misled by the seller being the original owner.

 

The slightly tilted Tiffany stamp is what concerned me as well. However I have heard that Tiffany will only polish their own jewellery - as I was running out of choices on what to do, I figured sending off the ring to get it polished by Tiffany would be one possible screening method. Although extremely embarrassing as well if it does come back unpolished. The numbers on the ring correspond to a SKU that is also on the diamond cert, interestingly when they took the details to be polished they also wrote down the SKU, so I presume that is part of their merchandising process.

 

I have heard from others as well that the diamond and platinum T&Co secondary market does not have huge a counterfeit market because of the cost of raw materials and the workmanship involved doesn't make it as profitable.

 

Anyhow I know I would be unable to sell the ring to someone as a Tiffany ring without being certain it was Tiffany. My problem as well is I cannot return the ring safely to the seller, unless I can prove it's not a Tiffany ring. Ironically, as Tiffany does not authenticate items, they also do not inauthenticate items. I would need to get a jeweller to write an appraisal that it was not Tiffany and as the jeweller seemed to presume it was Tiffany - well then...

 

So hence my dilemma, and why I am exploring all options to try and get the best understanding as possible about this ring to be as thorough as I possibly can.

 

I think there is one other thing I can check out as well - the crown inscription on the diamond. I know the later diamonds have crown inscriptions, but I'm not sure how far back laser inscription goes for T&Co.?

 

There is a diamond number on the certificate, but the T&Co certificate doesn't indicate there is crown inscription. In the recent past diamonds I have purchased from T&Co have been much newer, in the past 2-3 years, and have a diamond cert, with a diamond number and the cert says crown inscription.

 

This certificate, though having a diamond number doesn't say, crown inscription. I'm wondering if they used to keep the inscription secret? There doesn't seem to much be point to have a diamond number on the certificate if it isn't somewhere on the diamond? This certificate is definitely much older than other ones I've seen. My guess is about 10 years old. The watermarks check out for the certificate...

Edited by Guitar1979
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... I think there is one other thing I can check out as well - the crown inscription on the diamond. I know the later diamonds have crown inscriptions, I'm not sure how far back laser inscription goes for T&Co.?

 

 

Laser inscription on the girdle was generally available for GIA diamonds back in 1998 -- we didn't want it because we thought it would deface our solitaire.  However, Tiffany would likely have leapt on this as an additional marketing "security" feature.  Funny thing is, I've had 4 recent stones acquired, all of which are supposed to be lasered ... and on the 2 I've looked closely at, I can't find the marking.  I think you need better than 30X magnification.

 

Update -- Google "diamond laser inscription location" and you'll see good images of same, right on the girdle. Definitely need better than a 10X loupe to read the writing.  They will laser stones from .25 carat up, so it looks like your rock should have been eligible ... unless it's obscured by the setting.  Very unlikely someone would have swapped stones out for that size, though.

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Tiffany puts an inscription on one of the star facets, not the girdle.  It's pretty recent and if they do it, and they say so on the accompanying report.  It's quite small, especially on a 0.27ct stone, but it's not all that hard to find with a loupe if you know what to look for.  Tiffany has, of course, been in business way longer than lasers so it's definitely not evidence of a counterfeit if it's not there.  

 

Isn't there a date on the lab report?

 

Tiffany used to offer an appraisal service for something like five hundred dollars that people would use as an authentication report on the secondary market.  They stopped doing it several years ago, probably for this very reason.  As odd as it sounds, they seem to LIKE it that their stuff is difficult for their customers to sell.  If you're buying for resale purposes, I wouldn't attach any premium at all to the Tiffany branding.  You're not going to be able to defend it and your buyer will be in the same pickle that you're in now.   Whether or not you can get more than scrap value just because it's cool has more to do with you than with the goods.  Some people are a lot better at that than others.  Your betting that you're better than the person who sold it to you.  Only you can decide if that's a good shot. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Hello, thanks for that information re: 1998, that's useful to know.

 

My understanding is that the Tiff diamond inscription is on the crown, not the girdle. At least that's been with the last three solitaires that were under 5 years old. Sometimes the patented cuts like the Lucida have further inscriptions on the girdle. I also understand with all the facets bouncing around it does make it extremely hard to find inscriptions on the crown. I once left a 0.61ct diamond once with a jeweller for over 2 hours, searching at 30x magnification for the number. He did find it though eventually, but as you say it does take time and patience to find.

 

I do wonder if they had previously had the inscription done without declaring it on the certificate in the older diamonds and certificates as part of their security measures.

 

Thanks jijnnane, I agree it's very unlikely anyone would swap the stone out.

 

So unless I'm looking at a very specific organisation who only makes 0.27 ct diamond Etoile rings, with platinum and diamonds and has the means to watermark the certificate as well, it seems more than likely this is a legitimate Tiffany and Co ring.

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Hi Denver,

 

Thank you, you posted at the same time as me.

 

That's interesting to know that there will certainly be diamonds without an inscription as well.

 

No, the Tiffany certificate does not have a date.

 

I wouldn't expect to get much of a premium, as I don't have the valuation. My biggest issue is if I sell it, is I want to ensure as much as possible that there is not something that is a concern. Hence why I also looked into selling it as scrap. Also with this further information from people here, it seems there is not something overtly obvious I feel more comfortable having left it at Tiffany to be polished to avoid the unpleasant experience of it being sent back to me unpolished (if they discovered it was obviously not one of their rings).

 

ETA, re: 1998 I keep posting at the same time, my apologies Denver appraiser, that's interesting that other people were inscribing before GIA.

Edited by Guitar1979
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Tiffany puts an inscription on one of the star facets, not the girdle. It's pretty recent and if they do it, and they say so on the accompanying report. It's quite small, especially on a 0.27ct stone, but it's not all that hard to find with a loupe if you know what to look for. Tiffany has, of course, been in business way longer than lasers so it's definitely not evidence of a counterfeit if it's not there.

 

Hi Denver,

 

I've purchased three solitaires all pre loved, they had the diamond number and serial number on the certificate and also explicitly said on the certificate the crown had the diamond number inscribed, and the serial number was on the band.

 

In this diamond, though the watermarks check out, and the SKU seems to be recognised by Tiffany and is on the band, this is my confusion. The diamond certificate, has a diamond number on it and the SKU, as has the past certificates I have seen, however, it looks like a slightly older certificate, and does not explicitly say the diamond number is inscribed on the crown.

 

I double checked the certificate for watermarks and the customer service centre at Tiffany has also seen the certificate.... So my question is: if a diamond number is stated on the certificate, but does not explicitly say it is inscribed on the diamond:

 

1) is it possible the diamond is still inscribed?

2) the diamond is not inscribed - in this case does the diamond number just relates to the description, ie G, VS2, 0.27, dimensions etc?

 

ETA: seems it would probably be an older ring, where it's not inscribed? I just re read some posts. That is why the certificate would not say laser inscribed crown as the later diamonds do explicitly say.

Edited by Guitar1979
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1) is it possible the diamond is still inscribed?  
- 'Possible' covers a lot of ground but it's highly unlikely. 
 

2) the diamond is not inscribed - in this case does the diamond number just relates to the description, ie G, VS2, 0.27, dimensions etc?  
- That's all it relates to anyway, whether it's inscribed or not.  I must not be understanding the question. 

Edited by denverappraiser
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Nice bit of circular reasoning/repurposing:

 

The inscription was originally invented to ensure that a non-expert could easily check that a report referred to a specific diamond - the important thing was the grading of the diamond. In this case, who cares (within reason) what the grading is: the important thing being that it is a Tiffany & Co. report. The diamond - if it had an inscription - would be used to authenticate that the T&Co origin refers to the ring.

 

FWIW - as a collector (and thus buyer) of antique and estate jewellery, I have a slightly different point of view than Neil's on the "defensibility" of an attribution without an authentication by the maker. "Signed" Jewellery changes hand all the time, often for big amounts, based on hallmarks, style and manufacturing consistency and the reasonable condition (including possible repairs) for the age of the pieces. This including pieces made by firms that no longer exist or trade.

 

I then agree again with Neil when he says that for a modern, (relatively) mass-produced object the premium payable should be small if any at all... though often it isn't.

Edited by davidelevi
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1) is it possible the diamond is still inscribed?  

- 'Possible' covers a lot of ground but it's highly unlikely. 

 

2) the diamond is not inscribed - in this case does the diamond number just relates to the description, ie G, VS2, 0.27, dimensions etc?  

- That's all it relates to anyway, whether it's inscribed or not.  I must not be understanding the question.

 

Yes, that answers my question, thanks! I do appreciate it was a bit convoluted my thought process, but you have helped clarify things tremendously in my head.

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Nice bit of circular reasoning/repurposing:The inscription was originally invented to ensure that a non-expert could easily check that a report referred to a specific diamond - the important thing was the grading of the diamond. In this case, who cares (within reason) what the grading is: the important thing being that it is a Tiffany & Co. report. The diamond - if it had an inscription - would be used to authenticate that the T&Co origin refers to the ring.

Genius!

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