FTC Finds Jewelry Sites Often Misleading

January 27, 1999

FTC Finds Jewelry Sites Often Misleading

The Federal Trade Commission said this week that many sites advertising and selling jewelry don't provide consumers with information required under FTC's Jewelry Guides.

The FTC reviewed 100 sites of major jewelry chains, small retailers and on-line auction firms. It checked compliance with disclosure requirements in three areas: pearl and cultured pearl jewelry, diamond weights and gemstone treatments.

Most retailers and auction site sellers failed to comply with pearl disclosure requirements – 56 of the retailer sites advertised pearl jewelry and only 29% advertised the jewelry correctly. Twenty-five auction site sellers had ads for pearl jewelry; only 20% advertised the jewelry correctly.

With diamond jewelry the FTC reviewed 90 retailer sites. Sixty-two percent advertised diamond jewelry with weight representations, and 58% of those sites appeared to be advertising the weight correctly. Of the 89 auction site sellers, 34 advertised diamond jewelry and 68% of those sellers appeared to be advertising diamond weights correctly.

Regarding gemstone treatment disclosure, most of the sites the FTC reviewed did not have appropriate disclosures. Of 64 retailer sites selling gemstone jewelry on-line, only 5% correctly disclosed treatments to consumers prior to sale; of 58 auction site sellers selling gemstone jewelry, only 37% correctly disclosed treatments to consumers prior to sale.

FTC staff is sending e-mails to all the sites that contained potentially deceptive claims for pearl, diamond or gemstone products, reminding them of the Jewelry Guide requirements. See the FTC's Web site at www.ftc.gov or call the FTC's Consumer Response Center, Washington, DC, (202) 382-4357.

- by Michael Thompson