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The Ultimate Jewelry Discount

This news story making the rounds in Miami, FL should make some jewelers’ heads spin.

During a February 2013 Holland America Line cruise, retired antiques and jewelry dealer Thomas DePrince visited the onboard jewelry shop to see what kind of loose gemstones were available – particularly something between 15 and 20 carats. The salesperson contacted the cruise line’s corporate office (Starboard Cruise Services), who in turn contacted their supplier – Sophia Fiori Diamonds.

Sophia Fiori checked their stock and came back with a 20.64 carat diamond for $235,000. While probably struggling to keep a straight face, DePrince decided to get the professional opinions of his life partner and sister – a certified gemologist and gemology expert, respectively. At that price, they both thought there would be a profound downside to the diamond, and advised against purchasing it. But, DePrince couldn’t pass the deal up, signing a contract with Starboard Cruise Services and paying $235,000 in full.

Soon after, Starboard realized that the price Sophia Fiori Diamonds quoted them was $235,000 per carat. They’d just sold DePrince a $4.8 million diamond for 95% off! Five days later, Starboard informed DePrince about the error, cancelled the transaction, and refunded his money.

Of course, DePrince sued for breach of contract and other claims, but the case was thrown out. However, an appeals panel disagreed with that outcome, and now the case is returning to trial – so there is a chance that this deal from two years ago could still go through. Diamond District jewelers: we’re dying to get your thoughts on this case.

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