**** provided a defective ring, lied to me during subsequent negotiations, and gave me a "lemon" of a diamond.
Allegation 1: Bova provided a defective ring
I purchased my ring from Bova Diamonds in September/October of 2011 for $3,000. The ring I purchased had 64 side diamonds. Bova representatives warned me that side diamonds would pop out for the first few months of wear as the ring adjusted to the wearer's finger, and they promised to replace the side diamonds for as long as they popped out. The problem is that the diamonds continued to pop out for a period of 22 months, which is far more than "a few" months. I don't dispute that Bova Diamonds was dutiful in replacing the diamonds - they did this when requested. But the burden of having to bring my ring to them almost every month (and after we moved away, having to ship it across the country to them for repair) became significant. Other jewelers inspected the ring, and assured me that the problem was the result of the Bova metallurgist's choice to use shared prongs instead of the far sturdier 4-prong system. Critically, this prong system would allow the diamonds to keep popping out for an indefinite amount of time, making the ring far less attractive to me as a consumer and belying Bova's repeated claims that the problem would soon cease to exist.
Allegation 2: Bova lied to me during subsequent negotiations
When it became clear to my wife and I that the side diamonds would continue to pop out, we decided we wanted a new ring that would not require constant repair. We decided to "cash out" with Bova, under which Bova would buy back the ring for a given percentage of the purchase price. In October 2013, after numerous calls back and forth, the Bova representative from whom I had bought the ring promised to pay me 67% of what I had paid. This promise was memorialized in an email. Relying on this promise, I sent my ring to Bova. Eight days passed, and I still had not received a check, despite knowledge that the ring had arrived at Bova's Dallas office. I called repeatedly, and eventually got a hold of the same person, who apologized for the delay and promised while on the phone with me that he was putting the check in the mail. Five days later, after many more calls, I talked to a new manager, *****, who assured me that the other representative was not authorized to make the promise that he did, and that she would not abide by it. When I threatened litigation, she assured me that Bova was well-lawyered and that my email did not constitute a contract (as required by the statute of frauds). She eventually gave me 50% of what I originally paid ($1,500). She explained that her position was difficult because my ring was "not worth what ***** had promised," or 67% of the purchase price.
Allegation 3: Bova sold me a "lemon" diamond
This is the most serious claim against Bova, but it is listed last because it is the least evidenced. Prior to cashing out with Bova, I took the ring to several retailers in New York to see what they would offer me. They each assured me in turn that the center stone of the ring did not match the lab-provided certification that accompanied it. In short, the diamond had been switched at some point - and Bova employees were the only ones to ever handle the ring. Admittedly, these retailers have an incentive to undervalue any ring in hopes of buying it at a bargain, so I took these opinions warily. However, ***** all but confirmed their assessment when she bluntly admitted that my ring was not worth 67% of what I paid for it. That Bova had switched my diamond is consistent with the entire narrative of my interaction, specifically the redaction of their 67%-promise upon receiving my ring from me and remembering that they had already extracted the ring's value by executing a switch at a prior date.
Bova has already refunded me $1,500 of the $3,000 purchase price. I seek the refund of the other half of the purchase price as recompense for my wife never having received a ring of the quality that was repeatedly promised, my significant trouble in repeatedly bringing the ring back to Bova's offices (while I still lived in Dallas) and later repeatedly having to ship the ring back to them (after I moved to New York), and the large amount of time lost a) negotiating the cash-out with Bova, including numerous unreturned phone calls, and b) going through the entire purchasing process with Bova, which required numerous phone calls and visits to their offices.
A complete refund is equitable because, I can say honestly, I wish that I had never been a customer of Bova. I believe that putting me back in the position that I was in prior to dealing with them is the appropriate solution, and I believe that forcing Bova to pay recompense will act as a significant deterrent to such shoddy dealing with future customers. Jewelers engage customers from a bargaining position of extreme strength, gaining advantage from information asymmetries and being a repeat player in these types of transactions (whereas the consumer typically only buys 1-2 engagement rings in their life). This extreme dichotomy of bargaining strength is similarly present within the used car industry, which is why additional legal protection has been brought to bear on those dealers. In the absence of legal protection, jewel customers are left to rely on the trustworthiness of their seller. But where this entity has repeatedly shown itself to be untrustworthy, extra-legal enforcement in the form of the BBB is the only mechanism that can prevent the normalization of unethical business practices. Therefore, though "lemon laws" are notably absent from the diamond industry, I hope that the BBB will hold its members to a higher standard than that merely required by the bare minimum of the law.
RE: Case # XXXXXXXX: **** ***** Company Answer /Response Letter
In September of 2011 **** ***** purchased from **** Diamonds a loose diamond, custom designed setting and wedding band.
On October 3, 2013 Mr. ***** sent an email (which we have on file) requesting to upgrade the ring. No complaints were made in this email.
It was then decided that he would just sell the ring back to **** Diamonds instead and hold off on the upgrade.
It is true that the small diamonds in the setting would periodically pop out. This is common depending on how much the wearer of the ring bangs it (normal "wear" of the ring). This setting is a very common way to do the design. Designers all around the world set diamonds this way, it's called "shared prongs". A 4-prong system is more commonly used when setting the center stone in an engagement ring - not commonly used when setting side stones.
On October 10, 2013 Mr. ***** accepted the buyback amount offered to him... a check for $1,500 + $500 store credit to put towards his future upgrade. That in total equals $2,000 which is 67% of the purchase price. He accepted this dollar amount when he cashed the check.
Now Mr. ***** is accusing Bova Diamonds of switching the diamond. The retailers that he took the ring to in New York all assured him the stone was not the same as the certificate indicated... this is because the retailers want to offer Mr. ***** a lesser dollar amount to buy the stone from him than what it is actually worth. Did Mr. ***** get in writing that the stone did not match the certificate? This is just here-say then.
We have been in business for over 15 years and have never received a complaint that stones have ever been switched. WE DO NOT SWITCH STONES. Measure the stone. You cannot find two stones cut exactly, precisely the same. No two diamonds are alike. The measurements of the stone are listed on the appraisal.
How does someone wear a ring for three years than expect a full refund? His email on October 3, 2013 was a request for an upgrade. He wanted to buy his wife a bigger diamond. Perhaps he found something he liked better somewhere else and now he is making an invalid complaint against Bova Diamonds so that he can get a full refund. He never voiced any complaints to Bova Diamonds, in fact, he just simply wanted an upgrade.
He did not buy a "lemmon". He bought a ring which Mr. ***** wrote in his own words... "Bova representatives warned me that side diamonds would pop out..."
*** ****, Owner Bova Diamonds
First, I'd like to formally request that this complaint be reopened despite the fact that the deadline to respond lapsed 5 days ago. With the intervening holidays and the craziness of organizing time with two families, I failed to submit a timely response, but this should not be taken as an indication of apathy on my part. I strongly disagree with Bova's characterization of this dispute in their response to my complaint. In light of this, and in the interest of forgiving accidental delay that is all too common around the holidays, the BBB should reopen the matter and consider the following to be a valid response to Bova.
Allegation 3: Bova switched the diamond
I'm starting with the allegation that Bova switched the center stone of my ring because I think clarifying this issue will help to keep the other arguments clearly distinct. ***, writing for Bova, attacks the credibility of the NYC wholesalers who appraised the ring - I admitted to their conflict of interest in my original complaint. However, it is relevant that one of these wholesalers maintained that a switch had occurred even after I assured him I would not be selling the ring. He further invited me to visit an independent appraiser across the street to validate the claim. I did not go to that appraiser, as my wife was nearly crying at this point, but the wholesaler's attempted referral is still relevant: either he was bluffing by sending us to the appraiser, hoping we wouldn't actually go, or he legitimately believed that my diamond had been switched.
Nir claims that Bova, in its years in business, has "never received a complaint that stones have ever been switched." Given his response to my allegation, it seems obvious why this would be the case. No layperson is capable of appraising a ring, and all other appraisers can be dismissed by their presumed conflict of interest. At least in this case, the wholesaler who claimed the cert. did not match had some added credibility for his willingness to defer us to an independent appraiser. Moreover, even on Bova's Yelp page, a previous commenter ("Jaime H.") claims that he had received similar concerns from his own diamond expert, who had pointed out that his cert. was "loose." This certainly belies Bova's claim that this allegation is unprecedented.
Nir brings up an important point in resorting to the measurements contained in my diamond's appraisal. It is interesting that on my appraisal, which was provided by ****, the measurements for the center stone DO NOT even match the measurements contained on the stone's cert. While the appraisal lists the stone as a SI-1 with "good" cut, the certification lists the stone as a SI-2 with "excellent" cut. At best, this is evidence of a careless business that supplied its customer with a useless appraisal. At worst, it is clear support for the argument that **** switched my diamond, or perhaps that it has no idea what diamond it provided me. I have copies of both the appraisal and the certification.
Allegation 1: Bova provided a defective ring
Regarding the problem that the side diamonds continued popping out of the ring with great frequency, Nir seeks to hide behind a claimed industry practice of using a shared-prong system. There's no reason to lend this response any deference whatsoever. While I cannot dispute his claim that shared prongs are a normal arrangement, it is obvious that what IS NOT industry practice is to provide rings that require constant repair. Whether Bova ought to have used a different prong arrangement, or if its shared prongs were simply improperly made, the issue here is obvious from the result: side diamonds continued to pop out at a rate far exceeding what any customer would deem acceptable. If other wholesalers regularly employ the shared-prong arrangement, they must be capable of doing so in a way that prevents diamonds from popping out - something that Bova did not do in this case.
I was told by Bova's employees when I purchased the ring that side diamonds would continue to pop out for a few months after it was first worn, but this is far less that the two-year timeframe in question. Nir claims that continued problems with diamonds popping out can be explained by normal wear and tear from the wearer banging the ring. It bears mentioning that my wife is a teacher, not a rock-climber. The stress she placed on the ring, given her lifestyle, is clearly below average, and so side diamonds should not have continued to pop out after the first few months. Though many of my requests for repair were conducted over the phone, I do have email documentation covering some of these instances, along with a formal complaint to Bova submitted last year requesting that the ring be completely remade by a different metallurgist.
Allegation 2: Bova lied during subsequent buyback negotiations
This is the most clear-cut of all of my complaints, and there is ample email evidence to support it. I have an email from ***** *****, a Bova employee, dated October 7, 2013, with the following explicit language: "Per our conversation, minutes ago, we have agreed to buy back the items bout sic from Bova. The Diamond set in a custom eng ring and a band. We will buy it all back for 2000.00." This was the original agreement, and it says nothing about a deal for $1,500 cash and $500 credit, which Nir references in his response. This is because I was forced to accept this subsequent deal under duress when, after I had already sent my ring to Bova and they had had it for almost two weeks, I was contacted by another of their employees (*****) who refused to honor the previous agreement. This style of negotiation, which is steeped in bad faith practice and gross disingenuousness, is completely unprofessional and unbecoming of a BBB-certified company.
While I did cash the check for $1,500, this does not evince my choice to "accept" that as a negotiated outcome, anymore than anyone can accept negotiated terms with a gun to their head. Bova repeatedly promised me that the $2,000 check was on its way to me, and gave me no indication that it was unsatisfied with the deal until I received the call from *****. I had no idea what to expect from these people at this point, and legitimately feared that if I did not accept the deal imposed on my by her, I might open myself up to having my diamond switched again. BBB-certified companies should value honesty, timeliness, and good-faith dealing. Bova violated all of these values in this instance.
Bova Diamonds stands by our original response to Mr. *****'s complaint. He contacted us via an email on October 3, 2013 requesting to upgrade the ring. These complaints were never made known to us until BBB contacted Bova Diamonds. We are appalled that Mr. ***** has gone to such great lengths to slander Bova Diamonds because he did not receive a full refund. It is Bova Diamonds' store policy that we do not give full refunds. Mr. *****'s reference to Jaime H. is not valid because ***** H. was another customer wanting a full refund and then wrote a bad review on Yelp.com because his complaint to BBB was dismissed. Anyone can write a bad review on Yelp and a business cannot dispute it in the manner that they can dispute a complaint with the BBB. Bova Diamonds has been in business for over 15 years and we realize that we will from time to time have a disgruntled customer who does not agree with our refund policy.