Indian jewellers 'sold American woman $4 chain and pendant for $720,000'

Police search for father and son dealers from north-western state of Rajasthan over alleged gold and diamonds scam

Tests found that 'diamonds' on jewellery sold to American Cherish Nortez were moissanite stones. The National
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Police are searching for father and son jewellers from the north-western Indian state of Rajasthan after they allegedly duped an American woman into paying 60 million rupees ($720,000) for items actually worth 300 rupees – less than $4.

Cherish Nortez bought what she believed was 14 carat gold chain and a pendant with encrusted diamonds from a retailer at historic jewellery market Johri Bazaar, in state capital Jaipur in 2022.

Police say she was given a certificate of authenticity for her purchase.

But when Ms Nortez exhibited the piece at a show in the US in April, a purity test revealed they were fake. The chain was not gold but nine carat silver coated with a gold film, while the pendant was encrusted not with diamonds but cheap moissanite stones.

Ms Nortez returned to Jaipur in May and confronted jewellers Rajendra Soni and his son Gaurav, but says she was threatened with a counterclaim.

“They threatened to snatch away my passport and file a counter case,” Ms Nortez told local media.

She approached the US embassy, leading to a police investigation.

Police found that the Sonis bought a house worth 30 million rupees. Officers raided the home but the father and son had fled and are still at large.

A man named Nand Kishore has been arrested on suspicion of issuing the fake certificates of authenticity to Ms Nortez.

“Investigations have revealed that the accused sold silver jewellery with gold polish, valued at 300 rupees, to the foreigner for 60 million. To check gold and diamond purity, the hallmark certificates were verified,” said Bajrang Singh Shekhawat, additional deputy commissioner of Jaipur Police.

“It was revealed that these certificates were not authentic, and Nand Kishore – the person who issued them – was arrested. A search is under way for the absconding father and son."

Updated: June 11, 2024, 12:46 PM