February 21, 2000
Unless Paulson Pearls named its Web site "Pearls R Us," it's hard to see how the Atlanta, GA, company could have designed an Internet presence that gets the message "pearls" across more effectively.
The Paulson site sells no diamonds, no colored stones and no watches,
just pearls, all pearls, all the time. Got it?
This simplicity aims at Web shoppers whose hearts are set on pearls and, therefore, don't want to wade through the busy sites of jewelry e-tailers that sell everything. Here, you arrive at the homepage and have three primary choices: pearl necklaces, pearl bracelets and pearl earrings.
In addition, there's a "most popular" page to see the top sellers from each of the above categories.
To reinforce the all-pearl concept, Paulson's merchandise is shown in classic black-and-white photographs with a soft focus. Even the text is soft, with gray lettering rather than crisp black.
There's the usual other stuff. Running down the left side of each page is a series of links for those who want more information about such things as customer service, security, return policies and the origin of pearls.
Missing, however, is any information about pearl treatments or enhancements, disclosure of which is required by the FTC Guides for the Jewelry Industry. Because it is difficult to tell whether a cultured pearl's color is natural or the result of dyeing or irradiation, it is best to tell customers their cultured pearls are enhanced to make the color more attractive unless a jeweler knows and can explain conclusively that they're not.
Many online purveyors are simply not aware of the FTC Guides, says Cecilia Gardner, executive director of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. Therefore, many of the violations are unintentional
To its credit, Paulson clearly states its pearls are cultured, another FTC requirement.
(For more information about online compliance with the FTC Guides for the Jewelry Industry, see our related news story and "Deceptive Trade Practices Online" in the "Your Business Online" section.)
- by Mark E. Dixon