January 10, 2000
FTC Survey: Disclosure Still An Issue
The Federal Trade Commission conducted a 1999 holiday survey of Web sites selling jewelry to consumers to check compliance with its Guides for the Jewelry Industry. It found that while some improvements were seen from its '98 survey, more work needs to be done, especially in two areas:
(For information about how to comply on-line with the Guides, see "Deceptive Trade Practices On-Line.")
- Pearl disclosure. While compliance improved, on-line vendors still aren't noting often enough that pearls are cultured, which is an FTC rule. The problem was especially seen in the sale of pearls other than simple white.
- Gemstone treatment disclosure. According to current FTC guides, vendors must reveal when treated gems need special care or the treatment is impermanent. While compliance went up at Web sites from 5% to 12%, this still isn't nearly high enough, said Elaine Kolish, associate director of FTC's Division of Enforcement, Bureau of Consumer Protection.
Kolish, who announced the FTC findings at a special luncheon held by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee Jan. 8, also said that the agency was still in the process of reviewing its proposed changes to the Guides. These changes would mandate disclosure of diamond lasering and gem treatments affecting the value of a gemstone. (Read related story).
She said the agency was looking especially carefully at the GE POL process, a currently undetectible diamond treatment that enhances the color grade of certain diamonds. A decision will come later this year, she said.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue