Shares of Signet Jewelers Ltd. continued to slide on Friday over credit concerns and questions of possible gem swapping.
Signet operates 3,600 stores, primarily under the name brands Kay Jewelers, Zales, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, H. Samuel, Ernest Jones, Peoples and Piercing Pagoda.
The company said Friday, “Signet Jewelers’ entire team culture is directed toward ensuring that we earn and maintain customer trust.” Citing the company’s 100-year history of providing quality products and customer service, Signet emphasized: “We understand that every piece of jewelry is much more than an accessory — that it is often a reflection of a deeply personal and meaningful moment. Signet has in place vigorous product-quality procedures that are consistently monitored. Our teams review the characteristics of the item with the customer both when they drop their jewelry off and when they pick it up following service or repair, to ensure their confidence in the safe return of their original piece.”
Signet also said that in its design and service centers “we manage more than 4,000,000 service and repair transactions each year, and over 99 percent are completed without negative customer feedback.”
The company also said, “We strongly object to recent allegations on social media, republished and grossly amplified, that our team members systematically mishandle customers’ jewelry repairs or engage in ‘diamond swapping.’ Incidents of misconduct, which are exceedingly rare, are dealt with swiftly and appropriately.”
Signet shares began their slide Thursday, after an investment newsletter by James Grant noted a BuzzFeed story about possible gem swapping. Grant’s report also raised a concern about Signet’s credit operations and how it might have been used to boost sales.
The BuzzFeed story, which ran on May 25, said a woman took her engagement ring to Kay Jewelers to have a repair done, only to find out later that her diamond was replaced by a man-made stone. The BuzzFeed story said it identified “at least seven other women on Facebook” who had a similar complaint.
At least two law firms are seeking information from investors to see if there’s been any securities law violations by the company’s officers and directors.
Shares of Signet closed Friday down 4.4 percent to $88.18. The stock price is near its 52-week low of $84.80, and off its 52-week high of $152.27.