Diamond shopping is a big step for any couple. The bride knows what she wants, and the guy knows what he can afford. But imagine if you found out that sparkling stone wasn't worth nearly what you paid for it.
Genesis Diamonds boasts the "the guaranteed best prices in America," and the store says it has sold as many as 130 diamonds in a single weekend.
But a dozen competing jewelers tell the Channel 4 I-Team that Genesis is selling certified diamonds of exaggerated quality.
The jewelers say they're breaking bad news to customers who put their trust in Genesis.
"How often do you see someone come in with a disappointing stone?" asked Channel 4 I-Team reporter Demetria Kalodimos.
"At least once or twice a week," said jeweler Rodney Lunn.
"People think they're getting one thing, and they're getting something else," said gemologist Van McMinn.
That's what happened to one Genesis customer named Michael. His engagement is off, and he needed to sell his Genesis Diamonds ring to get out of debt.
The diamond was graded by EGL International, a lab widely criticized for exaggerating diamond quality and value.
Michael paid nearly $5,000 less than six months ago, but two trained gemologists have since told him it's realistically worth around $1,200.
So, he came back to Genesis, where he was first offered a trade.
"You can get a full value of whatever you paid your total, $4,845, towards anything else in the store," a Genesis store employee is seen telling Michael. "The problem is that, you see, there are two different grading systems. One is the EGL, and one is the GIA."
What the Genesis employee says is true and important.
GIA wrote the book on diamond grading and adheres to the strictest standard.
EGL International, the lab that graded Michael's stone, is far more lenient, giving top marks to diamonds many experts say don't deserve them.
"I go by what the lab says," the Genesis employee tells Michael. "This lab is a big name. I'm sure they don't want to be sued."
"When you take a diamond from a certain lab, and you send this same diamond to a different lab, you get different results," said Genesis Diamonds owner Boaz Ramon.
But the Genesis employee goes on to tell Michael the difference in GIA and EGL certification wouldn't be the quality of a stone, but rather it's price.
"Do you feel this customer got an incomplete explanation?" Kalodimos asked the owner of Genesis, Ramon.
"Absolutely not," Ramon said.
So can Michael get his money back? Remember, he hasn't had the ring long - just a few months.
"The big owner, which is Boaz, is not gonna give you your big money," the Genesis employee tells Michael.
"Can I get any then?" Michael asks.
"Sure, we'll give you an offer, of course," the Genesis employee said.
Next, in comes Ramon, who seems to say once a ring is worn, he can't sell it.
"Most people, for them, getting engaged is something very pure. They want to start it right. They don't want to wear a ring that somebody said 'no' on the ring," Ramon tells Michael.
Again, Michael is offered not money but an in-store trade.
"If you come in to me and say, 'Listen, I want to get from you another ring that costs $5,000,' you'll get your $4,800 back, no question asked," Ramon said. "This, nobody does. It's what I call good faith."
"Do you think some of your customers think they can get cash?" the I-Team's Kalodimos later asked Ramon.
"I don't think so. I don't think so," Ramon said.
Ramon says every customer who buys a diamond, even Michael, has been educated on what he's getting and may never get the sticker price back from anyone.
"If you will sell them a GIA or an EGL or even a ring from Tiffany, they will offer him a ridiculous amount of money, but this doesn't mean we did something wrong," Ramon said.
"But the allegations are people don't know until they purchased the item, and then maybe afterwards they're maybe too embarrassed or they're scared to say what you gave me is not what I thought I was buying," Kalodimos said.
"Some of the customers that you may be referring to, they knew everything about it, because when they come into our store, they are going through a very strong diamond education. Every single one," Ramon said.
In the end, Genesis did agree to give Michael $2,500 plus $500 in store credit to be used quickly. He also signed a confidentiality agreement.
"I've been in business a long time, and I'd never - absolutely never - made a customer sign a confidentiality contract," said Lunn, a local jeweler.
"Why the confidentiality, Boaz?" Kalodimos asked Ramon.
"A lot of times we do things above what we agree to do to another customer, and we don't want anybody to spread the word and take advantage," he said.
Michael left with some cash, a watch and a string of pearls, but in the end he also had a bit of a bad taste.
"I definitely feel as if I should have received a full refund," Michael said. "The loose diamond was not of the quality that they sold it to me for."
The Tennessee attorney general's office has reached out to Channel 4 News, asking that anyone having problems contact the state Division of Consumer Affairs.
Our newsroom has also had a lot of calls and emails from people wanting to know what to do about their diamonds. If you feel the need to get a second opinion, the most reliable information would come from a graduate gemologist, and there are several of those in Nashville.
Note: Genesis Diamonds has no affiliation with leading lab-grown diamond distributor Gemesis Diamond Company.
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