It’s looking like the fake diamonds a Williamsville jeweler is accused of selling were only the tip of the iceberg.
Other precious gemstones purchased or repaired during the past 20 years at the former RSNP Diamond Exchange on Main Street also are being called into question, Amherst police said. And some gold items were found to be gold-plated instead of solid gold.
Police have essentially issued an all-points-bulletin urging people who have done business with RSNP Diamond Exchange and its predecessor, Amherst Diamond Exchange, to have their jewelry examined.
“Not only the diamonds, but everything else should be checked,” said Amherst Police Capt. Enzio G. Villalta.
Each report in the investigation of jeweler Paul Blarr, who already has been charged with three felony counts of grand larceny and one of scheme to defraud, is being forwarded to the Erie County District Attorney’s Office, the captain said.
Blarr, 47, is accused of selling fake diamonds for the price of real ones. And, police said, he apparently took authentic diamonds that customers gave him to sell on consignment, sold them at pawn shops and pocketed the money.
Among his unwitting victims were several police officers, it previously was reported. More than 100 former customers already have contacted police.
“Some of them are going back several years,” said Villalta, who noted that most of the victims live locally.
Police, who announced Blarr’s arrest in late March, had more bad news for customers Tuesday.
Testing has found other man-made substances instead of diamonds, police said. So-called enhanced diamonds, produced when natural diamonds are treated to improve their visual characteristics, were not identified as such at the time of purchase – as required by the Federal Trade Commission.
In addition, former RSNP customers who have been having their items tested have learned the gemstones may have been switched, or aren’t the quality specified when they were purchased, police said.
Police advised that customers who had their items deemed to be diamonds through testing should have them tested again. Outdated equipment or failure to specifically test for Moissanite, a man-made substance, may have resulted in false positives.
“If you feel that you may be a victim, make sure that you have all items of jewelry tested,” Villalta said, “and to make sure when testing for diamonds, the test includes Moissanite.”
Anyone who had items at RSNP Diamond Exchange for repair only can call the office of Charles Marchese, Blarr’s attorney, to arrange for pickup of their property. That number is 845-6446.
Marchese has said Blarr himself was a victim, “spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to buy gems he thought were real.”