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FOX40 Investigates: Diamond Retailer Accused of Mishandling Customers’ Jewelry

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SACRAMENTO -- If diamonds really are a girl's best friend, you would think her jeweler would be just like family.

Deana Davies is convinced her jeweler, Zales, swapped the center stone on her engagement ring with a noticeably flawed diamond after she sent it in for service at the Sunrise Avenue.

"I glanced at my ring, put it on, walked out the door, and as soon as I put my hands on the steering wheel I went, 'That's not mine,'" Davies said.

The diamond Davies got back had a cloudy, diagonal line, referred to as an inclusion. She said that's something her original stone didn't have.

"They gave me the excuse that I just didn't see it before, that maybe they turned the diamond when they rhodium flashed it, so the prongs didn't cover it and now it was more visible," she said.

The problem with that explanation is the inclusion stretches past the prongs near the center of the stone. Davies had also been staring at the diamond, admiring it like so many others do with their own engagement rings, for years.

Davies called the Zales corporate office in Texas relentlessly to try to work out a solution, but never got a call back.

"It took about two years before we finally gave up and just let it go," Davies said.

Davies isn't alone, either. There are others with similar claims -- some with more photographic evidence than others.

"It's already a black cloud over our wedding and, daily, I have to try to track someone down to find a resolution," Amy Bassett, of Modesto, told FOX40 back in June.

Bassett said she sent her engagement ring to Zales for a repair. Instead of her solitaire center diamond ring, she got back a cheaper ring with a cluster of diamonds in a setting two sizes too small.

Zales admitted to losing her ring. They still haven't found it.

Bassett's story was shared on Facebook more than 2,600 times, and was flooded with comments from people who claimed the company had either lost or swapped their jewelry.

"We'd just like to take our business elsewhere," she told FOX40.

That's easier said than done, though.

Zales is owned by a company called Signet Jewelers. Signet is the largest diamond retailer in the world, and own many jewelry retail chains like Kay, Jared, the Galleria of Jewelry, H. Samuel, Ernest, People's and the Piercing Pagoda.

With $6 billion in sales annually, could all these customer complaints be an expected amount, or are Zales and sister companies really letting people's rings slip through their fingers?

"My first reaction is, 'Why are these rings showing up here, and why are they not all showing up there?'" loan officer Stevie Brown said.

Brown's office is in Allen, Texas, pretty close to Zales' corporate office and repair shop in Irving, Texas.

Ironically, she used to work in a jewelry store.

Back in May, Zales addressed four boxes of engagement rings to her office by mistake because her boss' name is one letter off from the Zales claims adjuster they were meant for.

"To me, it was moreso just, 'How can you let somebody's rings ship and you have no idea where they're going, and why don't you care about people's intimate personal belongings?'" Brown said.

Brown documented the rings in each box, and contacted the Zales claims adjuster to explain the mixup.

The claims adjuster responded via email, saying, "We have cleared up this issue with address. If you receive any more packages, please let us know."

"Thankfully, I have good character," Brown said. "You know, people could be keeping these rings and selling them on eBay."

FOX40 tried reaching out to Zales several times, by phone and email. Our calls were routinely sent to voicemail, which was full.

Zales did, however, respond in writing:

"At Zales, we take customer concerns very seriously and view even one issue as unacceptable. We have reviewed this guest issue as we do all that are brought to our attention, and are working diligently to resolve it in a manner that meets the expectations of the guest. Signet Jewelers also issued a press release in June, disputing national social media claims it systematically mishandles customers’ jewelry repairs or engages in diamond swapping, calling allegations against them grossly exaggerated."

Mik Carapetian, who owns the independent Razmik's Jewelry in Fair Oaks, says jewelers have a duty to educate their customers and about what they are buying and resolve complaints in a timely manner.

"Anything you want to know, you have a right to ask. That's what we`re here for," he said.

Carapetian says, whether or not your diamond is certified, you should always have diamond mapping done in store to document any identifying characteristics.

"Document everything," he said. "Take pictures."

Meanwhile, the Davies know their marriage means more than the ring or the proposal, but they say that moment will never be the same.

"My hope is that as more of these stories come out, that other people don't have to deal with what we had to deal with," Davies said.