Get your piece of the Diamond Class Action pie.

by Paul Michael on 16 January 2008 17 comments

Hands up if you bought diamond jewelry between 1994 and 2006. Well, if you did you can claim some of the $295 million that has been set aside in the DeBeers class action lawsuit.

Anyone who knows anything about the diamond industry knows DeBeers. They also know that DeBeers is an enormous corporation that buys up massive quantities of diamonds in bulk, stockpiles them and thus, artificially inflates the value of the product. It's not new or original, but it works. This, from the class action suit:

Several class-action lawsuits were filed asking for money damages on behalf of diamond purchasers. The lawsuits also asked that the defendants stop certain business conduct. The lawsuits claim that the largest suppliers of diamonds in the world—De Beers S.A. and its associated companies—violated antitrust, unfair competition, and consumer-protection laws by monopolizing diamond supplies, conspiring to fix, raise, and control diamond prices, and disseminating false and misleading advertising. De Beers and the other companies deny they violated the law or did anything wrong. They also say that because they do not do business in the United States, the courts in the United States do not have authority over them.

Anyway, DeBeers was taken to court and decided to settle out of court for a huge sum of money. They deny any wrongdoing by the way. The class action lawyers must be celebrating in a big way, they can now retire in the Bahamas (heck, they can probably buy the Bahamas), but you and I still get to claim a little cash to make up for the extra money paid for diamond jewelry in the US between 1994 and 2006.

Simply go here and file your claim online . You don't need to submit physical receipts unless your purchase was over $10,000 (which is not quite my case, but engagement rings can get pretty costly these days). However, you may need to prove your purchases later on, so make sure you have at least a bank record or receipt before you submit your claim.

How much will you get back? Well, I can't say for sure but it looks like it varies considerably. For diamond-only jewelry over $5000, you're getting back 90% of the wholesale price. That means, as several readers have pointed out, that you won't be getting back 90% of the $5000 but 90% of what the reseller paid for it. For smaller amounts, the percentages go as low as 13.8% of the wholesale price, which may very well be peanuts at that point. Here's a table to give you a better idea:

You have until May 19th, 2008 to get your claim in. So, grab your receipts and get back the money you're owed.

 

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Guest's picture
Guest

It's not really accurate to say DeBeers "was taken to court and lost." A settlement is not a judgment. From the class action Web site:

"The courts where the lawsuits were filed have not made any determinations regarding whether the Defendants have done anything wrong. If the lawsuits are settled, the Court will not rule on any of Plaintiffs' claims or on Defendants’ defenses to those claims, and the lawsuits will be dismissed. This means the Class Members may not sue any Defendant ever again about any past, present or future claims based on or related to the conduct covered by the lawsuits."

Guest's picture
Guest

Hmmm...when I follow the link to make a claim online, it won't allow me to click the "continue" button. Is anyone else having this problem?

Guest's picture
Guest

You must not be eligible.

Guest's picture
Guest

No, the issue can't be that I am ineligible because the "continue" button is before you type in any information. Perhaps I should try it in a different internet browser.

Paul Michael's picture

In my opinion, DeBeers lost. It's guilt by association, but that's just my opinion. Personally, if I were the CEO of DeBeers and had to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars, I would not be patting myself on the back.

Guest's picture
Mandy

Thanks for this article! I actually saw a "Legal Announcement" for it in a magazine just last night, and wondered if it was legit, or had hidden fees or anything. I hope we get some money back from when my husband bought my wedding ring set! It says all claims must be submitted by May, but doesn't say when the checks will be mailed - did I just miss it somewhere?

Paul Michael's picture

I think trying a different browser is a good idea. I use Firefox, it never lets me down.

Guest's picture
Guest

I installed Firefox for the sole purpose of filing this claim. Holy Cow! Goodbye IE forever!

295M? I'm sure that is a grain of sand in DeBeers 14yr profits. I also wonder if their was a deeper intent behind this? Like to prove out any fraudulant behavior at DeBeers or gauge how bad the dirty diamond trade really is?

If only women wanted something cool for their engagement! Whats so special about diamonds?

Guest's picture
Josh

What that table let's you know is your "recognized claim amount" (RCA). So if you bought a $5,000 piece of diamond jewelry, your RCA is $5,000*90%=$4,500. This is the most you could possibly get back. Only $135,432,500 of the settlement is available to consumers. If consumers in total file claims for $450 million, then you will only get $4500/450000000=0.001% of the available $135 million, or $135. If there are claims for $4.5 billion, then you will only get $13 back. And according to Wikipedia, in 2002 there were $57 billion dollars in jewelry sales, so you will likely not get that much back. Assuming a flat $50 billion/year for the 12 year time frame, we're talking $600 billion in jewelry sales, or perhaps $300 billion in potential claims. If a paltry 1% actually file claims, then you'd expect to get about $2 back. But wait, you must be eligible for at least $10, otherwise you get jack.

No doubt, apply for the settlement, but don't get your hopes up of a big check.

Guest's picture
Guest

(p.s. In other words, don't confuse the purchase price with the wholesale price. The 90% referenced in the post is not going to be taken straight off of the $5,000+ purchase; it refers to 90% of the *wholesale* cost, which is less than the purchase price.

Guest's picture
Guest

Awesome information Paul! How would the consumers know what the wholesale price is, though? I guess my engagement ring doesn't qualify since the hubby bought it after March 31st, 2006. No biggie.

Paul Michael's picture

It is wholesale price, NOT purchase price as I had earlier stated. I will edit the article to avoid any confusion.

Guest's picture
New Guy

I think the wrong chart is listed in your article. There are 2 charts listed on the class action website, and from what I can tell the second chart is the one most consumers will use. I'm referring to anyone who just bought a diamond ring. That chart does in fact show percentages of the RETAIL price, so it would be a percentage of the price you actually paid. But I notice 2 things: first, no matter what chart I use I end up with about the same dollar amount (assuming wholesale price is 50% of retail price). And second, as already pointed out, this is the max you can possibly receive. There is a set dollar amount they are going to distribute, and you will almost certainly get way less than the max amount allowed.

Still, a refund of any kind is nice. I'm filing because, incredibly enough, I still have the payment book from when I bought my wife's engagement ring. I don't know if that constitutes a receipt, but it's worth a try.

Guest's picture
Guest

I agree with New Guy above, the chart shown in the post is for wholesale purchasers, there is a 2nd chart for retail purchasers and it does list refunds as a percent of purchase price. It is the max amount you could possibly get so depending on how many people file claims, you may get very little back.
Here's the 2nd chart (for retail purchases of diamond jewelry):

Purchase price - Claim Percentage
<200 - 10.5% of retail price
200-999 - 27.5%
1000-5499 - 32%
5500-9999 - 38.5%
>10000 - 45%

Paul Michael's picture

And you're right...any kind of refund is nice.

Guest's picture
Guest

I was planning to file for my 2 rings bought during this time period until I talked to someone who knows quite a bit about these class action suits. He said the lawyers always get all the money & the people who file get next to nothing. (Or nothing) The lawyers like for people to apply - for the more that apply , makes it look better to the courts. I have heard,there are lawyers that do nothing but look for class action cases. That's the kind of lawyer to be I guess.

Guest's picture
Misty

So when do I get my $2.00? I could really use it.