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1990: Diamond Customers’ Claim for Refund Is Secured By Kansas Court

August 1997

When an engagement breaks, where does that leave the jeweler?

That question, accompanied by a recent state Supreme court case, may leave jewelers in a quandary about how to handle requests for refunds or even competing claims to ownership of the ring by the would-be bride and groom.

The Kansas Supreme Court decision, citing a New Jersey court precedent, decided in favor of the groom’s ownership of the ring, after the bride refused to return the diamond when the engagement was broken off.

The Kansas court ruled in favor of the original purchaser of the ring, since, the judge said, the ring was given as a “conditional gift in contemplation of marriage.” As a result, whatever the length of time a woman wears the ring, the court ruled, it does not actually belong to her until the moment she becomes the giver’s wife.

This case illustrates the awkward and even outright vulnerable position in which jewelers may find themselves when an engagement is broken.

For example, what is the jeweler to decide in a case of competing ownership – especially if one or both of the parties are customers with whom the jeweler wishes to maintain a good business relationship?

Or what policy should a jeweler have about refunds in the case of broken vows? Should he return the entire or partial amount or issue store credit? Especially if the jeweler has himself purchased the diamond on memo and can’t return it to stock.

Perhaps each case needs to be dealt with on an individual basis or perhaps this scenario is unfortunately common enough to warrant industry-wide established guidelines to help jewelers contend with this awkward situation.

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