I think I found a diamond. Now what?

Yesterday, I found a piece of jewelry on the beach using my metal detector. (Pic and blog post here.)

I’m guessing I can’t waltz into any old jewelry store and ask a jeweler whether or not the diamond is real. Any idea what I should do?

BTW, the metal setting I found the diamond in has no distinguishing marks or anything like that, so I doubt there’s any chance of locating the original owner.

Why do you assume that? You probably don’t want to take it to a Zales but any jewelry store with a real jeweler on hand can tell you if it is real in two seconds. Determining the value is where it gets trickier. Just tell them you have an old ring you might be interested in selling and want to know if it is a real diamond. I wouldn’t recommend really selling right then in case you have something of value and the want to lowball you but it is a start.

I may be mistaken, but I think that you can. There are plenty of legit reasons for you to have it without knowing if is real. Just go ask a jeweler.

Why couldn’t you? Any jeweler could tell you in a second whether it was real. And most of them would do it for free, anticipating business from the restoration.

If I were you, I’d try to pawn it. They’d tell you if it was real or not.

Is it finders-keepers then in the US?

Yes, any actual jeweller would, I’m sure. They will be accustomed to inspecting rings and so on for insurance valuation purposes. They might charge a small fee, though. To save yourself the trouble, just feel free to send it to me. :slight_smile:

Don’t know how nitpicky jewlers in your area are, but I had exactly the same situation. Found a ring with a nice rock on the beach. Took it in to a local jeweler. The guy took one quick look and said, “Whatever it is, it’s not a diamond,” which was all I needed to know. No charge or anything.

So if you have it and you want to pawn it, do you pwn it?

I’m a New Yorker. I’m trained from birth to assume the worst about people :wink:

I’d think that if I told the whole story, an unscrupulous jeweler might not tell me the whole truth in hopes of taking it off my hands.

Or maybe I’m just being paranoid.

In most cases, yes.

Just for the record, I would return any significant find if it had any identifying marks that would allow me to track the original owner down. In this case, there’s so little metal left that I’m not even sure whether it was originally a ring, pendant, earring or what…

I think I might take a lunchtime trip to one of the local jewelry stores.

You get a second opinion.
Maybe he was lying and hoping you’d sell it to him cheap (for the setting maybe).

I once bought a diamond ring at an estate sale which was priced too low to be true. Since it was my fianceé’s engagement ring, we took it to a random jeweler (Na HoKu jewelers to be exact) where they happily checked it for me.

They have some laser pen where they “beep” it and the strength of the returning laser beam indicates if its real or not. In fact, they checked it, got a false, noted how dirty the stone was, cleaned the ring for us and checked it again where it scored true.

So my advice is to try a jeweler. If they won’t do it, try another.

Oh, I should note that my fianceé spent a stint in a mall jewelry store and said that the pen was standard issue equipment in her store as well. So it shouldn’t be hard to find someone who can check it.

Thanks for the advice thus far, all. I’ll let you know what I find out.

Generally, most people would make some effort to find the person who lost a valuable object, but for a ring that was found on a crowded beach that’s been there long enough for the setting to corrode away – there’s just no practical way of tracking down the owner.

Shouldn’t the process be similar to having found a wad of cash or such–you hand it to the police and then they give it back to you once everyone has ascertained that there’s no hope finding the owner?

I found a diamond stud earring in the lobby of a hotel once, and I ended up taking ownership of the jewelry, but I jumped through a bunch of hoops first.

I actually worked at the hotel where I found the diamond, and I knew how “porous” our own Lost & Found was. If I had put it through that process, it would have gone missing immediately. I wanted to keep the diamond if it was unclaimed, and I wanted to give the owner the best chance of getting it back. I was young, and this may have not been the wisest decision career-wise, because I did end up getting written up for not following lost & found protocol, but whatever. It all worked out for me.

I first took the diamond to a local jeweler and they were very quickly able to tell me that it was real and would retail for about two grand. They did not offer to buy it from me, but were willing to give me good info on it.

I then took the diamond to the police station thinking that they would hold it for 7 days and if nobody claimed it, I could keep it. It wasn’t that simple. Washington State law at the time said that the timeframe would actually be 90 days. And in that time, I had to run TWO “found item” classified adsin the local newspaper. This cost me about $20. Finally, if nobody claimed the diamond - I could have it…but I had to pay the state of WA 10% of it’s wholesale value ($100), which the police got from a pawn shop. Still, $120 for a nice diamond was definitely worth the time and money.

The police officer in charge of my “case” also contacted my hotel (this is how I got busted at work) and the chairperson of the convention that had been in town. None of these leads turned up anything. Neither did the classified ad I ran.

Regarding the classified ad and the way they listed it in their public records, the police had me list it only as a “eering with yellow colored metal.” As few details as possible so that the real owner would have to describe it exactly in order to take possession.

In the end, Washington law had just changed to make the claim fee a measly $10 per item, regardless of value - and I took possession of the diamond after 90 days. I took it to a jeweler and had it made into an engagement ring.

Pretty much a happy ending, except that the marriage only lasted 5 years. Oh well…

After my father in law passed a couple of months ago, we found a couple of rings with what looked like nice size diamonds but weren’t sure they were real. I didn’t want to deal with a jewlery store so I just bought it to a pawn shop. Asked if they were real (they were) asked quality and size and how much THEY would give me for it.

I thanked them and left. Of course that wasn’t an appraisal but it was nice to have some kind of idea.

Very simple and was interesting as I had never been to a pawn shop before and looked around as I waited.

If it was found in a tarnished setting, it’s probably not a diamond. A 1 carat stone would almost certainly be set in 14k or platinum, which don’t tarnish. (Well, 14k can look a little brassier with age if not polished, but not really tarnished)

And Gaudere makes the right call.

Took it to two jewelers during my lunch break. Both said it was a cubic zirconium.