October 7, 2004
JVC Finds Undercarated Diamond Weights in 65% of Jewelry Tested
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee announced the results of an undercover market study to test total diamond weight jewelry for undercarating. JVC conducted the study to gauge the extent of undercarating, especially in small pieces with multiple diamonds. JVC also wanted to reinforce the need for retailers to monitor their inventories for quality assurance and to test their suppliers.
During a four-month period, JVC surveyed the greater New York metropolitan area - the five boroughs of New York City, New Jersey and Long Island. It purchased 55 pieces of jewelry, all with multiple diamonds and weights represented in decimals, not fractions. (Fractional representation is a range; decimal is a specific number. The Federal Trade Commission Guides for the jewelry industry require that total carat weights be correct to the second decimal point.) Price range of the jewelry tested was $150 - $2,900. JVC shopped a wide range of retailers, including $100 million supersellers, department stores, mall booths and boutiques.
Of the 55 pieces of jewelry, 37 were undercarated. Three items were less than 1% undercarated, 10 items less than 5% undercarated and 24 were over 5% underkarated. Of those 24, 10 pieces were 20% or more undercarated and one piece was 50% undercarated. Two pieces were 45% undercarated.
"Of the 37 undercarated pieces, 13 were undercarated less than 5%. In this group, the level of harm likely would not result in any action by a government agency," says Cecilia L. Gardner, JVC executive director and general counsel. "The results of this study indicate that retailers need to utilize quality assurance measures to safeguard their inventories against undercarating. Retailers who represent total carat weight to consumers are legally obligated to do so accurately. Misrepresentation can create legal liabilities for retailers."
JVC contacted all the retailers involved with the results. Many retailers were cooperative and provided JVC with the names of their suppliers and offered refunds. Some stores were not cooperative.
This investigation continues. JVC is contacting suppliers who have been identified as well as making referrals to local consumer affairs agencies.
For the results of the survey, visit JVC's Web site: www.jvclegal.org.