Stuck with a Problem? Has your diamond, jewelry or gemstone deal gone sour?

How did I get here and how do I get finished with it without going to my attorney?

Are you in a situation where you made a purchase, had a piece of jewelry break, a diamond chip, a stone get lost, or some other issue with a jewelry purchase or a vendor problem? Do you feel like it’s you against the entire industry? Do you, as a vendor, feel fearful of an unhappy customer and wish to make a fair settlement, but just can’t seem to come to an agreement? Do you have a damage or loss claim which is creating a problem because you may not have the correct insurance coverage? Is your replacement stone or jewelry a fair replacement?

Problems happen. You may think you are alone, but it is also very frustrating for an honest merchant, or legitimate insurance firm on the other side of the dispute.You may think the vendor party is a crook now, but when you made the deal you must have held some other opinion which gave you the confidence to make the final purchase decision.Things can change and we are here to help you.

Many problems can be resolved by an expert and a simple phone call.Communication is much better than a dispute. It can initially be entertaining or a challenge to argue, but in the long run a mutually acceptable understanding will be best.Sometimes a consumer and retailer just can’t come to an agreement alone. Distrust breeds more frustration, and harsh words may be exchanged.They may no longer take your phone calls or respond to written demands.Where do you turn to?

An expert mediator can help.

A mediator is a person who is not unbiased and unaffected by the sale or refund of the item in dispute. The mediator listens to both sides, gathers all facts, explores all the options and seeks to create an agreement for both parties. The goal is an efficient and reasonably fair resolution.

Mediation is a process where two parties to a dispute negotiate an acceptable agreement with the aid of a mediator. A mediator is also known as a “neutral”.

A mediator is a third party who assists in the negotiations; however, they do not make decisions like a judge in a court of law.Just as every situation is different, every mediator has a different approach to mediation.It is the mediator’s responsibility to structure the process that the parties can successfully negotiate a dispute resolution agreement that works for both sides. Dispute resolution is not one sided.A final result is nearly always a reasonable compromise, not a one sided victory.Both sides save “face” and both sides save countless dollars in what might be fruitless litigation in the courts.

There are different phases of a mediation process. Initially, one of the parties contacts a mediator and discusses the background information and the facts as they perceive them. The item in dispute is carefully examined and documented.A full understanding of your position is kept in this documentation.

There are always two sides of a story. Then the other party is contacted and their version of the story is recounted and documented.When the parties can’t agree, it is the responsibility of the mediator to help them come up with the all the options available to resolve the dispute. The third phase is the final one before resolution and agreement. Before or during this third phase an evaluation of the disputed item(s) will be done by the mediator or his designated valuer.The right expert for valuation can be the mediator or someone else who may be more qualified in the specific item(s) requiring investigation.

Negotiation is the final phase. The options that are available for settlement are laid out and explained. Scenarios that are totally unacceptable are eliminated leaving the possible settlement methods apparent. Sometimes trade-off can be made to balance out a settlement.It is hoped that the consumer feels the problem has been properly adjusted and the opposing party feels they have saved face or allowed the consumer a fair opportunity to settle peacefully.

At the point where all the issues are agreed upon, a settlement document spelling out the specific terms is rendered. This is a binding contract on all parties once it is signed by both parties. Mediation is a private process.Our services and your results are confidential.This benefits the consumer and the opposing party. The more each party openly criticizes the other in public forums or in the seller’s locale, the more animosity develops and the less chance there is to reach a fair settlement.The common mistake is thinking that complaining loudly will cure a problem.It often does exactly the opposite.

Mediation removes the emotional content of reaching an agreement in a dispute.It saves time, money and has proved effective for proven a very effective tool in reducing costly and pointless litigation in the courts.

When all else fails you still can fall back on litigation.You and your attorney will need expert advice and eventually expert testimony.“Experts” are readily available, but not all experts are created with equal knowledge, skills and experience.When mediation fails, the expert stage commences.The costs rise, but the courts do offer final decisions if you are patient, and financially capable of seeing your case to a conclusion.Remember, you may be right, but you may not win. You definitely may win less than an amount which pays for all your lost time, and legal fees.Few jewelry related cases come out in a positive financial way.My experience as an expert, in and out of court, has given me the tools necessary to provide good assistance, but my first recommendation is to attempt a settlement through mediation methods before committing to a long term lawsuit.

by David S. Atlas, GG(GIA) Sr Mbr(NAJA) ASG(AGA)
D. Atlas & Co.

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