FTC Asks for Comment on Platinum Marks

February 8, 2005

FTC Asks for Comment on Platinum Marks

The Federal Trade Commission agreed to a request from the Jewelers Vigilance Committee to seek comment from the jewelry trade concerning the way jewelry with a lower platinum content should be marked and whether an amendment to the FTC Guides for the Jewelry Industry is warranted to address the issue.

The JVC action came after the FTC received a request from a company wanting 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 as alloys. Platinum group metals are platinum, palladium, rhodium, iridium, ruthenium and osmium.

According to the FTC Guides, items containing 950 parts per thousand of platinum (95%) may be marked as platinum. Items that are 85% to 95% platinum must be marked with the actual platinum content. Examples: 900Pt, 850Pt. Items containing less than 85% platinum must detail the platinum group metal. Example: "750Pt. 200Irid." Total parts must equal 950 (95%). Currently, the guides also state that for any product to be marked or described as "platinum," the product must contain a minimum of 50% platinum and the mark or description must disclose the amount of the platinum group metals in the product.

Some industry members are concerned that "585 Plat. O PGM" jewelry could undermine the current consumer understanding of platinum as an almost-pure and very durable investment. There are long-term technical and quality issues concerns both at the manufacturer and retailer level. JVC consulted with various trade groups, including Jewelers of America, Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, American Gem Society, and Platinum Guild International-USA, as well as a number of industry manufacturers and retailers.

The FTC has already issued a staff opinion letter stating that 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. In the letter, the FTC stated that additional information to distinguish this metal from other platinum products must be included when selling the product.

by Peggy Jo Donahue

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