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Florida couple says Zales Jewelers swapped ring during routine repair

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 10:54 PM EDT
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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WCTV) - A Tallahassee couple wants to know what happened to their wedding band after Zales Jewelers inside the Governor’s Square Mall sent it out for a routine repair and returned it with a different ring.

“It was clean and sparkly. Sparkles get distracting,” said Julie Jeter, who did not notice the difference right away.

Julie and her husband David took the ring in on June 6, 2021, for routine cleaning. They said they were then told that a diamond was loose and it would need to be sent out for repairs. The engagement ring and the wedding band were both sent out and returned two and a half weeks later on June 25.

It took about an hour before they came to the realization that something was wrong with the band.

“After a little bit, I just noticed something wasn’t right,” Julie recalled. “I was looking at the (wedding) band, and I usually match up the diamonds with the (engagement) ring.”

After pulling out some of the professional photos from the wedding that included close-up shots of the engagement ring and wedding band, the differences were subtle but glaring.

“My original band had 17 diamonds and the band we got back had 16,” said Julie. “You feel violated. You feel taken advantage of.”

A few other things were off too- like the size of the band and the detail work around the diamonds, as is evident in a side-by-side photo comparison of them.

A few other things were off too- like the size of the band and the detail work around the...
A few other things were off too- like the size of the band and the detail work around the diamonds, as is evident in a side-by-side photo comparison of them.(David Henry Jeter)

The couple said they went back to the store, but became “frustrated” because they were not getting anywhere with the salesperson or the store manager.

“To me, when you go to a reputable company, you would trust the products they have and the work they do,” said David.

David decided to take to social media to get the attention of Zales corporate. He also tagged WCTV’s Katie Kaplan. The move worked, catching the attention of a customer service representative and the T.V. station.

“It hurt. It was upsetting and then it was all of these questions, ‘How did it happen? Why did it happen? Where’s my ring?’” said Julie.

Zale’s parent company is Signet Jewelers Limited and claims on its website that it is the world’s largest retailer of diamond jewelry, boasting $5.2 billion in annual sales and 2,800 operating stores. It owns several of the nation’s largest jewelry chains in the United States, a well as popular stored in Canada and the U.K. The company has headquarters in Akron, Oh., but online financial records show its corporation is based in Bermuda.

A spokesperson for Signet declined to talk to WCTV about the company’s jewelry repair process citing “proprietary” and “security reasons.” However, we were told repairs are done by a “Signet facility” and “not a third party.” This is information that contradicts what the Jeters said they were told by the customer service rep over the phone, and by at least one viewer who claims to have worked for the Tallahassee Zales and who reached out after the story aired. Financial records for Signet lists two repair facilities in the U.S. including a 38,000 sq. ft. location in Akron, Oh. and a 31,000 sq. ft. facility in Dallas, Tx.

A request for an interview with WCTV was declined. But, in an emailed statement, David Bouffard, the vice president of Corporate Affairs for Signet Jewelers, confirmed the company is working with the Jeters and plans to replace the band, as well as open an internal investigation into the loss of their ring. Bouffard’s full statement can be read below:

“Yes, we are working closely with the Jeters on replacing their wedding band. At Zales, we have a saying, that when there’s a problem, we own it. That’s why we intend to continue to work with the Jeters on a resolution until they are completely satisfied. In fact, we informed the Jeters that we are going to conduct an investigation into the loss of their ring. While we unfortunately cannot replace the sentimental value associated with the original, we’ve contacted the manufacturer who has agreed to remake the ring. We’ll continue to work closely with the Jeters until they are completely satisfied. Thank you again.”

The Jeters’ ring, which was purchased as a set in the Summer of 2019, is now out of production and will have to be specially made. However, the couple said it is too little too late and they just want their original band back.

“It loses all sentimental value now. The day I put that ring on her finger,” said David trailing off. “It loses all sentimental value. In the back of my mind every time I see her look at her finger or mess with that ring, I know it’s not the same ring anymore, and I know that she’s going to know that too.”

The couple said they shared their story because they want other people to know they need to be aware. They are not the first to raise alarm. A 2016 article by Buzzfeed News made waves online after it identified several women who had claimed their rings and/or diamonds had been swapped by a Signet-owned chain.

At the time, Bouffard adamantly denied the allegations.

The Jeters have filed a complaint against the company with the Better Business Bureau and have vowed to stop shopping at chain retailers and said instead they will go to local companies with good reputations. They also suggest that Zales and Signet Jewelers apply all of the values they push in their commercials, like love and trust, to its business dealings with customers too.

Signet Jewelers owns the following brands:

  • Kay Jewelers
  • Zales Jewelers
  • Jared
  • Ernest Jones
  • JamesAllen
  • People Jewelers
  • H. Samuel
  • Piercing Pagoda
  • Rockbox

If you need to file a complaint with the Better Business Bureau, click here.

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