Professional Jeweler Archive: FTC Asks for Comment on Platinum Marks

April 2005

Merchandise | Metals

FTC Asks for Comment on Platinum Marks

Should lower-content platinum jewelry be marked "platinum"?

The Federal Trade Commission has agreed to the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s request to seek comment concerning how jewelry with a lower -than-usual platinum content should be marked and whether an amendment to the FTC Guides for the Jewelry Industry is warranted.

The JVC action came after the FTC received a request from a company that wants to mark its jewelry “585 Plat. 0 PGM” to designate a product made of 585 platinum (metal that’s 585 parts per thousand of platinum) and contains no other platinum group metals.

According to the FTC Guides:

Jewelry containing 950 parts per thousand of platinum (95%) may be marked simply as platinum.

Jewelry that is 85% to 95% platinum must be marked with the actual platinum content. For example: 900Pt, 850Pt.

Platinum jewelry with less than 85% platinum must detail the other platinum group metal. For example: “750Pt. 200Irid” for an alloy with 200 parts of iridium. Total parts must equal 950 (95% platinum or its group metals).

The Guides also say that for any product to be marked or described as “platinum,” it must contain a minimum of 50% platinum, and the mark or description must disclose the amount of the platinum group metals.

Some industry members are concerned that “585 Plat. O PGM” jewelry could undermine consumer understanding of platinum as an almost-pure and very durable investment. There also are long-term technical and quality issues to consider. JVC discussed the matter with trade groups – including Jewelers of America, Manufacturing Jewelers & Suppliers of America, American Gem Society and Platinum Guild International USA – and some manufacturers and retailers.

The FTC has already issued a staff opinion saying the proposed “585 Plat. O PGM” mark is neither prohibited nor allowed and warning that because the proposed product is sufficiently different from other platinum products that contain platinum group metals, the mark alone is insufficient disclosure. It says additional information to distinguish this metal from other platinum products must be included when selling it.

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