Professional Jeweler Archive: The Compliance Quiz

August 2001

Managing/Legal Issues

The Compliance Quiz

Are you in compliance with the law and FTC Guides? Take this quiz to find out

Probably the last thing on your mind when you’re making a jewelry tag, displaying jewelry or writing an ad is whether what you’re doing is legal. Or whether it complies with Federal Trade Commission standards. After all, you’re familiar with the laws and guidelines, right?

Many jewelers are not surprised to learn they do most things right. But just as many are surprised to learn they don’t know as much as they think. Answer the true-or-false questions below to see how you rate.

1. Every piece of your in-stock jewelry must have a quality mark and a trademark, and you also must disclose this verbally to your customer.

False. Surprising, isn’t it? It’s within FTC guidelines to stock items that aren’t quality marked. However, as part of the sales process, you must disclose to your customer – in such ways as in-case signs, tags or sales receipt – what the karatage is. And if the pieces are quality marked, then a trademark must be in close proximity to the quality mark on the piece of jewelry.

2. If a gemstone (diamond, colored stone, pearl, etc.) has been treated, you must always disclose it to your customer.

True. Use these rules of thumb: Did the treatment affect the item’s value, quality or care instructions?

Is the treatment non-permanent? If you answered yes to any part of these questions, you should explain to the customer exactly how the gem was treated and what special care instructions are required. Don’t forget the FTC now requires you to disclose laser treatment also.

3. You don’t have to tell your customer whether or not a treatment is permanent.

False. Right after you tell your customer about the treatment (see question 2), you must explain whether or not that treatment is permanent. Always.

4. You don’t have to label a gemstone’s country of origin.

False. Labels with country of origin are a requirement. You’re already looking up this information on the invoice every time a customer asks, so add it to your tags. This is easier and move convenient, besides being compliant. For finished jewelry, the country of origin is the last country from which it was imported. For loose stones, make your best effort to determine the country of origin.

5. Your store’s return policy – when written, posted in-store and disclosed to the buyer before he or she completes a purchase – is the only governing authority on the subject.

True. Your store’s return policy, when posted and disclosed, is the governing authority. If it’s not posted or disclosed, don’t expect customers to abide by it.

6. When advertising pearls, no additional descriptive language is needed – just call ’em pearls.

False. Natural pearls are formed only by Mother Nature and are increasingly rare. All other pearls are cultured. Yes, South Sea, Tahitian, baroque and akoya should all have the word “cultured” in their descriptions. No exceptions.

Make sure you and your employees are familiar with the regulations governing your business. There is more you should know, and you can ask the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. For questions or JVC membership information, call (800) JOIN-JVC.

– by Caroline Stanley

Caroline Stanley is JVC’s marketing and development director.

Copyright © 2001 by Bond Communications