Detroit Dispute over missing pink diamond gets new day in court

By Ed White

Associated Press

DETROIT (AP) -- The case of the missing pink diamond was revived last when a federal appeals court restored a lawsuit that accuses a Michigan jeweler of swapping the gem for a cheaper stone.

The ruling overturned a lower court's order that tossed a lawsuit filed by Victoria Harris of Saginaw. She insists that a Saginaw jewelry store replaced her 2.35 karat pink diamond with a less expensive diamond when she had her wedding ring cleaned and enlarged in 2002.

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 decision, said Harris had supplied enough evidence to at least allow a jury to decide if J.B. Robinson Jewelers is liable. It's not clear how much she thinks the original diamond was worth, although the lawsuit seeks more than $75,000.

J.B. Robinson has denied any theft. An expert hired by the jeweler said the ring's prongs and settings could not hold a rock as large as Harris had claimed.

Harris presented affidavits from three people familiar with the original ring who said it had a pink center.

"There is no dispute that the diamond presently mounted in Harris' ring is colorless," Judge Richard Griffin and Judge Judith Barzilay wrote. "This testimony, which must be viewed in the light most favorable to Harris, supports the allegation that Harris' diamond was replaced."

But dissenting Judge Ralph Guy Jr. said Harris' claims "are nothing short of preposterous."

Guy noted that even Harris' husband said the ring looks like the one he purchased for $395 in 1973. The lawsuit, the judge said, is "long on emotion but short on plausibility."

Harris, 64, did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment Wednesday. She acted as her own lawyer at the appeals court and when the case was in federal court in Bay City, where it now will be returned.

J.B. Robinson's parent company, Sterling Jewelers Inc. of Akron, Ohio, declined to comment.

In her lawsuit, Harris said she was shocked when she went to pick up the ring.

"This is not mine!" she wrote. "There's too much glittering and sparkling and it's small. ... They ripped out a piece of my heart."

Published: Mon, Dec 13, 2010