This past summer I bought some jewelry from Bidz.com. I heard that people were getting great deals from this company. In fact, the site was recommended from a computer magazine.
I checked out the site and was impressed at the wide array of items up for sale. Everything seemed to be on the level. I was stunned by the web page and the jewelry caught my eye. I had originally gone on the web site for computer equipment, but the jewelry fascinated me. They had some jewelry, said be fully appraised and certified, supposed to be worth something like $10,000 dollars, going for less than a thousand. I followed the bidding and the piece sold for only a few hundred dollars.
I kept watching this. WOW...what deals! Furthermore, the auctions were 100% guaranteed!
I was looking for some way to make some money, so I said to myself. If they are selling jewelry for below wholesale, I could sell for wholesale and still make money! The markups on these items would be huge if they are selling jewelry worth tens of thousands of dollars for mere thousands.
I guess I should have known better. After all, the company could certainly sell the item for its full retail value.
But I bought some jewelry. I bought a total of five pieces with a total appraised value of $62,300. Three of the pieces had certificates of appraisal -- two from a company called AIG, American International Gemologists, and the other from a GLA, Gemological Laboratories of America. The other two pieces had no certificates, but were tagged at retail value of $6270 and $7240.
I bid on the items, won the items and paid a total of $4,350 -- the price including shipping. My goodness, what a deal! I got the pieces in good condition. Everything seemed to be in order.
But I decided to hedge my bets and try to get one of the pieces appraised at some local jeweler in downtown Buffalo. I took the ring -- a diamond and sapphire ring the piece supposedly worth about $6000, to the jeweler. It would be $75 to get it appraised.
When I took it to the jeweler, he just looked at it and just remarked that it was a new piece but would not say anything more about it. I had taken the tag off so I could get the real value of it. But he would not even give me any estimate of its value. And then he told me that he did not appraise new pieces because he had had bad experiences including legal troubles. I didn't get an appraisal.
I wish that jeweler had been up front with me. He probably knew that the ring was junk, but he wouldn't tell me that.
I began looking for places to sell my booty. At an estimated retail value of over $60,000 even if I sold for a mere fraction of its worth I would still make money -- or so I thought.
A friend of mine went over my house later after I had bought and received the jewelry and he looked at the stuff. He doesn't know any thing about jewelry, but he is street smart and he told me that it looked like junk to him. I didn't believe him. I told him about the certificates of some of the jewelry. And he said to me that the certificates must be fraudulent. No jewelry of any real value could be sold for such a low price. He kept asking me, "How can a company be selling over $60,000 worth of jewelry for $4,300? (a mere approximately 7% of its total value) The certificates must be bogus! Why doesn't the company sell that stuff for $60,000 if it really is worth that much?"
He was right! He finally got me to take the stuff to a local jeweler near the Buffalo Airport and a fairly well known one in Buffalo. The jeweler looked at the stuff with both an amazed and disgusted look on his face.
He looked at me in the eyes and asked me, "What were you thinking? I don't mean to be mean, but this stuff is really low quality." He said that the diamonds were miscut, poorly cut, and generally of low quality over all and that many of the diamonds were one step above industrial grade (I1, I2 clarity and less than J color) and shouldn't even be in jewelry. Even the best diamonds were of about SI clarity and G and H color. The gold was of low quality too.
I showed him the certificates. He said that he had never even heard of the AIG or the GLA even though he has contacts and deals with jewelry and jewelers all over the United States.
The certificates were essentially frauds!
I wound up selling the jewelry for a paltry $700 of what was supposed to be over $60,000 of jewelry. I lost about $3,700.
I did not even make scrap value on the jewelry I bought! I got melt down value.
The jeweler however told me that I couldn't even sue the company because in the fine print, the appraisers say that the jewelry may not attain the value stated and that they did accurately reported the color and clarity of the jewels sold, they just made outrageous claims as to its appraised value which technically is not against the law. Furthermore, my friend told me that even if I could sue the company, that I would wind up spending a whole lot of money, because I would have to go to California, spend time in court there, file the complaint there and so forth. He knew people that had to do that.
As for AIG and GLA. I looked for them on the internet. The AIG apparently doesn't exist. I have not found a web site or anything pertaining to them on the web. They do have an address and telephone number printed on their certificates which for all we know may be just a trailer somewhere and a phone number with an answering machine. The GLA is more substantial. It has a web site and a physical address and telephone number. Their last reported e-mail address is email@example.com. You can visit their web site and get their address assuming they still exist. Bidz.com now has a new company doing appraisals for them too. This new appraisal company seems to be based in Marina Del Rey, California. I was just scoping out Bidz.com web site before I filed this report.
I think GLA is based in Marina Del Rey too. I wonder if GLA is in cahoots with bidz.com and receive some compensation for their services of "appraising" jewelry for bidz.com or if somebody is using the name of a legitimate company and producing forged documents hiding behind the name of a legitimate company. The documents are really good. They are laminated and imprinted with some sort of seal to verify authenticity all to make it seem legitimate. They even have holographic seals on their documents to assure that you have a legitimate document.
Before I sold my junk jewelry, I actually wrote an e-mail to GLA asking about the jewelry I had purchased. And they sent me a courteous reply reassuring me about the value and quality of my jewelry and the reality of their company.
I sent an e-mail to the AIG using the e-mail address provided on their appraisal certificate. I never got a reply from them.
This is yet another object lesson. If something sounds to good to be true, it probably is!
I only wish those hucksters would send me a check for $60,000 for all my pain and suffering and for the value of that worthless jewelry. But I don't even know if I can ever get even my $4,300 back. But unfortunately I can't get my money back because I threw away all my packing materials and then I sold the pieces and the jeweler shortly thereafter melted them down.
Buffalo, New York
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