5 On Your Side

Is a Diamond-Purchase Refund Glittering in Your Future?

Posted February 26, 2008
Updated February 27, 2008

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— Perhaps you or someone you know bought diamond jewelry in the last decade or so. If so, there might be a refund waiting.

It's part of a $295 million class-action suit against DeBeers, the company that produces most of the world's diamonds. It is not a popular subject in some quarters, however.

A 5 on Your Side investigation found that the suit is so touchy in the diamond industry that not one of the area jewelers contacted for this story would talk about it on camera. They said they were concerned about possible ramifications from DeBeers.

A series of lawsuits claimed the DeBeers group of companies conspired to fix the price of diamonds, monopolized the market and had misleading advertising.

Because of it, the suits claimed, consumers paid more for diamonds then they should have. A settlement says that consumers who bought diamond jewelry between 1994 and 2006 are eligible to share the $295 million.

One of the people who bought during the covered period is Crystal Burriss, who noticed an online posting.

“It said ‘diamond refunds,’ and that caught my attention,” Burriss said. “That's a lot of money, so I'd like to have my little chunk.

Burriss' original wedding set and a tennis bracelet both fit the time period.

“The ring was, assuming everything goes … as the percentages are outlined, $161. And it would be slightly more than that, I think around $200, for the bracelet,” Burriss said of her potential refunds.

Although refund amounts will vary depending on the number of total claims filed for a piece of the $295 million, the higher the cost of the diamond, the higher the payout percentage. For example, according to the settlement, a $1,000 piece of diamond jewelry could be eligible for a $320 refund.

Burriss said she plans to claim her portion and wants to get the word out so that other women can get theirs.

“I don't think I've met one person that it doesn't affect,” Burriss said.

Best of all, she said, there do not appear to be any strings attached – "the best kind of money."

Are You Eligible?

You are eligible for a claim if:

  • You purchased a diamond or diamond jewelry anytime between Jan. 1, 1994 to March 31, 2006.
  • You maintain a place of residencey in the United States.

To file a claim:

8 Comments

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  • Cleanup on Aisle Cool Feb 28, 2008

    What so wrong about having a monopoly on a non-essential product? Hmm? I understand a monopoly on, say, water or gasoline could be deadly. But diamonds?

    Come to think of it, should OPEC be the next to be sued???

  • obs Feb 27, 2008

    Surprised on a couple levels. First that people weren't aware of DeBeers creating a ridiculously overpriced market for vanity items that are very common minerals. They've been doing it since the company was founded decades ago. What also surprises me is that the courts had to be involved when people were voluntarily paying too much for said items.

    It might have been a monopoly under the law, but considering the diamonds in question were vanity items (they did not list industrial diamonds) they could have simply been passed over for other types of adornment, such as moissanite, which is largely indisinguishable from diamond. But the law is the law, they knew they were caught and made it go away.

    Who wins? Who loses?

  • PikeMom4real Feb 27, 2008

    My purchase was quiet large.I bet I get nothing.(1995)

  • TheAdmiral Feb 27, 2008

    The thing about it is that if they settled out of court, then by the very nature of a settlement it should be that they are guilty. They should change the law so that if someone settles they are required to admit guilt.

    I made two purchases and I know I won't see a penny - much like the CD price fixing Class Action that I was part of.

    I did not even get a check.

  • happy Feb 27, 2008

    So, $295M divided by 10 years = $29.5M per year in refunds. I know that I personally received 6 diamond purchases during that time frame. Granted, they weren't extravagant, but I'm certain they totaled over $4K. I understand that the payout will only be a small portion of the original price, but I can't imagine that the pay out is going to be very much if every person in America goes in for a refund.

  • jowilker Feb 27, 2008

    When the bubble does pop on that gig, and all the gals find out that their $5,000.00 diamond is only worth $50.00 or less in real time, marriage refunds aint all they are gonna want.

  • oneday8035 Feb 27, 2008

    I'd rather have a refund for the marriage!

  • MrPearce Feb 26, 2008

    Of all the monopolies that should have been gone after, Da Beers is the one.

    That they settled out of court for a paltry 295 million, is tantamount to an all out legal victory for Da Beers.

    If it would have been pressed to its logical conclusion I suspect Da Beers could have ended up pay hundreds of billions for years of price setting.