Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Carmel on the Case: Auction
You've heard the commercials on TV and seen the ads in the newspaper for the special one-day auction offering rugs, antiques or jewelry at bargain prices. But, as investigative reporter Carmel Cafiero found out, you could be over-bidding for the bling.
WSVN -- Sonja Straus loves the thrill of the hunt, finding great items for cheap prices. Recently, an ad in the paper caught her eye. An auction for seized property.
Sonja Straus: "I was just going to be a bystander and watch the fun."
Sonja looked around at what would be auctioned off and took a liking to a unique star sapphire.
Sonja Straus: "I looked at that piece, oh, very interesting, and she took it out and showed me an appraisal that looked very authentic to me."
The necklace was appraised for $42,000, so when the bidding started at $2000, Sonja got caught up in the action and won the bid at $4,100.
Sonja Straus: "I thought I got a very pretty piece and a great deal."
But as they day went on, her gut told her to check it out. So she stopped at her jeweler, so he could take a look at her purchase.
Sonja Straus: "And he said, 'Yeah, it's really a bad piece of jewelry.'"
Carmel Cafiero: "And what did you think when you heard that?"
Sonja Straus: "Well, it's like my heart dropped. It's like, why did I even buy it?"
The necklace wasn't even worth what she paid for, so she went back to confront the auctioneer. She wanted her money back.
Sonja Straus: "And he said, no, he couldn't do that."
Gavin Abadi was the auctioneer that day and says, "All appraisals are done independently." He says the jewelry he buys comes with its own appraisals, and he has no affiliation with appraisal companies, and, in most cases, he sees pieces for the first time at auction. Sonja took her necklace to another jeweler for a second opinion, and she still didn't hear what she wanted to hear. Daoud's Jewelers has been in business for 113 years.
Patrick Daoud: "Immediately, I thought it was synthetic, or there was some sort of treatment to the stone to where it was basically heated or coated to have a synthetic star in it."
Daoud says he's seen a lot of bad jewelry bought at auctions and warns take a close look at those appraisals.
Patrick Daoud: "The public is relying on a piece of paper they are assuming is accurate, and when it's not, that's a problem."
And the Better Business Bureau says, the safest bet, buy from a reputable jeweler. If you can't live without the excitement of an auction, take an educated buddy with you.
Carol Venello: "Maybe take someone with you who knows that industry and will be able to tell you if something like that is the real thing."
It's a lesson Sonja learned the hard way.
Sonja Straus: "I think I was more upset that I would be taken in."
Carmel Cafiero: "At most auctions, they will rarely give you a refund for buyer's remorse. But, in this case, Gavin Abadi had a change of heart. Because, he says, he doesn't want an unhappy customer, he refunded Sonja's money."
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