Professional Jeweler Archive: JVC Aids Underkarating Probe in NJ

October 2002

Managing/Legal Issues

JVC Aids Underkarating Probe in NJ

A majority of the jewelry tested did not meet karat gold standards

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee, in concert with the Camden County, NJ, Consumer Protection/Weights and Measures Office conducted an underkarating investigation resulting in violations of New Jersey law, Federal Trade Commission Guides for the Jewelry Industry and the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act. Underkarating refers to a gold item being represented or marked with a quality mark (10k, 14k, 18k, for example) that proves untrue when assayed.

Non-Destructive Testing

Camden County approached JVC with questions about the industry and asked to use JVC’s Precious Metals Testing laboratory to assay items bought from retailers in the county between February and June 2002. The JVC facility uses a non-destructive X-ray assay to determine karatage of jewelry made of precious metals.

Stores were selected at random; prices of items ranged from $20 to $149. Out of 36 items tested, 23 did not meet standards (The National Gold & Silver Stamping Act allows only small variations when manufacturers alloy gold with other metals. Overall, the gold fineness of a piece of jewelry must not vary by more than 7/1,000ths from the amount indicated in its quality mark.)

Protecting Legitimate Retailers

This is the second time in a year JVC worked with a government agency concerning underkarating. Last year, after an investigation in New York state, JVC found two distributors and 60 retailers underkarating gold jewelry. JVC reported its findings to the New York State Attorney General’s office, which issued fines to the guilty parties (Professional Jeweler, February 2002, p. 101). “Once again, our industry monitoring showed underkarating of the gold in jewelry items victimizing buyers at bargain stores,” says Cecilia L. Gardner, JVC’s executive director and general counsel. “This activity damages retailers’ reputation for integrity and constitutes fraud.”

– by Peggy Jo Donahue

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