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How Long and Fast Does It Take To Swap Out or Switch A Diamond?

Usually this question pops up when customers come in to get their jewelry and rings cleaned.

It’s always a huge fear of customers.

They think “If I give a jeweler my jewelry to clean, they’ll switch out my diamond for a piece of junk!


People have this roundabout way of asking “How much time does it take a jeweler to…

Switch out a diamond?”

You want the short and sweet answer? Or do you want the complicated one?

Well, I’ll give you both…

2 minutes.

That’s it.

2 minutes (give or take a minute) is what it takes to swap out your stone and put in a lower quality diamond that’s full of carbon spots and inclusions!!!

Keep in mind this all depends on your actual setting and your diamond of course.

But believe me…

Even though it could take 2 minutes… it really isn’t that easy.

There are a lot more things to take into consideration.

Things that are not that fast.

First off, if the jeweler is going to want to “steal” your diamond (or switch it out), then they are going to have to have a good reason to do so. They are going to want to steal it based upon the quality of your stone (clarity and color).

You see, if your diamond is a normal diamond, SI clarity or I clarity, then there’s no big reason or desire to take it. Jewelers have tons of these quality stones. SI and I clarity are the two bottom clarity ratings there is on the diamond clarity grading chart. It would be silly to swap out an I clarity diamond. What would you put in its spot? Another I clarity diamond?


I would assume that if a jeweler is going to take the risk and switch out a diamond, then they would want it because your diamond is a top of the line stone (like Flawless, VVS or VS clarity). Swapping out a VVS clarity for an SI2 clarity makes more sense doesn’t it?

Following me?

This leads me back to my initial point. If the jeweler is going to make a conscious decision to swap out your diamond, then they will have to know your diamond’s quality first. And there’s only one way to know that…

Cleaning the diamond.

They will have to clean it thoroughly first, then microscope or loupe it and identify the clarity and color of your diamond (and most benchmen don’t know how to really grade diamonds anyway… That’s what the jeweler does).

You can’t loupe it before the stone is clean to get an accurate rating.

The dirt and grime and dust on your stone would give false clarity readings and make your diamond look low quality even if it wasn’t. That’s why it’s important for diamond graders to always clean the stones first. Only then, once it’s clean and the jeweler identifies the real clarity and color of your diamond, and only then could they make that all important decision to steal a stone or not.

Trust me, if it’s worth stealing, it better be one heck of a diamond.

Sneaky sneaky…

And even if your diamond turns out to be a top notch stone and the jeweler does want it… There are still a lot of huge obstacles to overcome

Because if a jeweler is going to put in a lower quality diamond in your ring, then they are going to have to be sneaky about it.

Sneaky because customers have a very cute habit of not being interested in their diamond when they hand it over to the jeweler… (it’s dirty and nasty looking beforehand), but then when they get it back all shiny and new they look at it really long and hard.

They scrutinize their stone naturally because people just don’t trust jewelers. They always think jewelers are trying to rip them off. So customers hand over their rings without even glancing at them, then want to pick them apart once they get them back.

It’s crazy, but true.

Eagle eyes:

And knowing that a customer’s first instinct will be to look at their diamond with eagle eyes when they get that “swapped” diamond, CZ or gem back, then that stone would have to very identical to their original stone.

Don’t you think?

Close enough that a customer wouldn’t quickly notice it. Close enough that you’d be okay with the switch and walk out the door.

Do you realize how difficult this task would be to accomplish?

I mean, you look at your diamond ring every single day of your life. You know what it looks like. You would notice if it was different or changed (other than being cleaned or polished).

It’s nearly an impossible feat in such a short amount of time.

Is it possible?

The jeweler would have to have hundreds (if not thousands) of extra loose diamonds of all shapes and sizes and of course lower clarities in the shop.

They would have to gauge the MM width of your diamond and sort through all their diamonds looking for a match in size and appearance. It would have to be almost exact in order to “fool” you and to actually fit in the head you already have. Otherwise you’d spot the difference. I’m telling you right here and right now that it’s not going to happen. Not in just a couple of minutes.

It’s not.

So if you’re nervous and scared of letting a jeweler take your rings and polishing them up because you think they’re going to steal them, then get over it. I understand your fears, but there’s really no need to worry.

Leaving your diamond?

Now, if the jeweler doesn’t do the cleaning while you wait, say they take a half-hour or an hour, or even an afternoon, day, or week to do it, then you could have some reason for alarm

Time to switch a diamond…

Delay does give an unscrupulous jeweler the time it takes to switch out a stone.

So what exactly happens when they switch out a stone?

(Customers have this done all the time with upgrades or replacing chipped diamonds.)

How to switch a diamond?

To swap out a diamond or exchange one diamond for another, jewelers have to gently pry apart the prongs holding in the stone, pop out the diamond from the head (hoping not to break or damage the prongs in the process), set in a new diamond of the same MM size (or extremely close), reclose the prongs on the diamond so it’s safe and secure again, then polish everything up so it looks brand new again. Fun, eh?

This all takes time. Jewelers can normally do all of this in about a half-hour or so. It really all depends on the prongs, the diamond, the ring, and the talent of the jeweler. If a jeweler encounters weak prongs, or prongs that break off, then they have to repair them or rebuild them so they’re durable again (you would notice that). It’s a lot of time and effort and work to swap out a stone.

99.9999% of all jewelers would not even bother.

All in all, if it’s a quick cleaning you want, but you’re concerned about your jeweler, then you only have a couple of choices:

1) Let them clean it.

Just scope your diamond afterwards to verify the quality and that it’s your diamond you get back.

P.S. You have to know what quality of diamond you have first. Hopefully you bought a certified diamond, or even better, a certified diamond that’s laser inscribed. That will make it much easier to identify your stone’s quality… just make sure you bring the certificate with you.

2) While you watch:

See if the jeweler will allow you to watch them while they clean your diamond. Some will, some won’t, you just have to ask first.

Not allowing you to watch doesn’t mean they are shady, their insurance policies may not allow customers in the shop.

3) Clean it yourself:

You knew this was coming… :)

If you trust no jewelers then the best way for you to protect your diamond and your paranoia is to clean it yourself. It’s silly, but then you wouldn’t have to worry about your diamond being switched now would you?

Buy yourself an ultrasonic cleaner or a steam cleaner and enjoy.

Learn more in my article: Prevent diamond switching.

Diamond switching is not as common as you would think.

Most jewelers strive to gain trust and respect, not throw it away to make a buck or two. It’s just not worth it.

Find a jeweler who has a long standing good reputation in your city or town and deal with them. They’ll do everything they can to make you feel comfortable and give you peace of mind.

Your diamond will get returned back to you, clean, safe, and secure.

Cheers! :)

Recommended Jewelry Supplies:

Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Jewelry Steam Cleaner Complete Jewelry Cleaner Kit Diamond Dazzle Stick
Gold Silver Jewelry Polishing Cloths Jewelry Making Supplies Kit Gold Acid Test Kit Watch Tool Repair Kit
Ring Adjusters EMT Emergency Ring Cutter 10x Jewelers Loupe Jewelers Microscope

Recommended Jewelry Supplies:

Ultrasonic Jewelry Cleaner Jewelry Steam Cleaner
Complete Jewelry Cleaner Kit Diamond Dazzle Stick
Gold Silver Jewelry Polishing Cloths Jewelry Making Supplies Kit
Gold Acid Test Kit Watch Tool Repair Kit
Ring Adjusters EMT Emergency Ring Cutter
10x Jewelers Loupe Jewelers Microscope


  1. Alicia Grossman // August 9, 2016 at 7:34 pm // Reply

    I had my over 2 carat stone cleaned about 2 weeks ago. They took it in the back for like 10 minutes. This bothered me. I then hurt my ring finger and cant take the ring off. I wanted a jeweler to look at it, so I took it to a neighborhood place and he did look while I was wearing it. While he was looking at it, I was talking to his partner in the store and not paying attention to the jeweler looking at my ring. Is there any possible way he could have switched my diamond while it was on my finger? It is a very valuable large, 2.25 carat diamond.

    • No. No way possible on your finger. The force it would take, to pry the prongs back, pop a new stone in, and bent them back again, would probably crush your finger. You’d absolutely know it. So don’t worry. :) -Richard

  2. I had my ring polished today. He would not allow me to watch and took it to the back. About 15 mins later he came back out with the ring after I left I looked at the ring with “eagle eyes” and I feel like the diamond is set lower than what it used to be. I called and asked them if they would do anything to do setting and he assured me they don’t touch the diamond only steam it. Should I be concerned can I be putting things in my head because he didn’t let me watch?

    • Hi Sindy, I wouldn’t be alarmed in the least. It does take about 10-20 minutes to clean a ring (ultrasonic cleaner and steamer, not to mention the polisher if they buff it). That’s normal, doesn’t sound like an issue to me. Have your diamond checked to verify it’s a diamond, and if you have the paperwork on it, have it double checked to make sure it’s the same stone, but I would assume it was. :) -Richard

  3. I took my ring in to be replated by the same jeweler I bought it from. It has carbon spots in it at 2 o’clock and 7 o’clock. The color is an F. When I picked 3 Days later, it looked gray and didn’t sparkle. The carbon spots are now at 1 o’clock and 5 o’clock . I took it to another jeweler and was told the Center Stone is an H. I have the original appraisal but do not no how to proceed. I am heart broken that my ring no longer sparkles. I picked an F color because they shine better. I hope you can help me.

  4. I bought my ring online from a pawnshop for $845. When I got it I was sceptical, so I took it to a pawn shop to check the diamonds, and they were all real and the same color. I have not taken it for cleaning or anything else until today. I had it resized at an indoor flea market. The jeweler asked if I wanted to look around the flea market while he sized it. I gave him $20 on top of what he was charging me to resize it. All in all it took him like 30 minutes to do the work. I leave the place and while I’m driving back to work, I noticed that the center .25 carrot diamond was totally clear and another shade. I was clearly upset, so I had to verify what I was thinking. I went to a pawn shop and had the diamond checked. What do you know…
    All the diamonds were real except the one in the center. I called the jeweler, and he said that he has been doing jewelry repair for 32 years now. So experience, he has. Now it’s a he said I said BS situation. I’m making a report tomorrow and see what happens.. Truly there are people out there trying to screw people over. That’s sad.

    • Hi Ruben. Did you have an appraisal done on the ring when you bought it? Either from the pawnshop or another jeweler to verify the diamonds as genuine and to verify the quality as well? When buying from a pawnshop, it’s probably wise to have your goods double checked, just in case. Because it could be either place giving you the wrong info. Just the fact that the diamond looks different, is not a cause for alarm. It could have been dirty underneath the stone (which will make the diamond clarity and color and brilliance appear different). Many times items found in pawnshops are not professionally cleaned like they would be in a jeweler. Plus, the sizing would require a polish and cleaning and more than likely a steaming to thoroughly clean it, so it could make it look different. So right now, without actual proof that it was a real diamond to begin with, it’s really hard to point the blame. Hopefully you had it insured and can get it replaced by your insurance company. -Richard

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