As a designer, artist and jewelry maker, it is unlikely you spend a lot of time contemplating the rules laid our by the FTC, Federal Trade Commission, but as persons, partnerships, corporations at every level of the trade who are engages in manufacturing, distributing and the sale of products, you too are subject to these requirements. For the full FTC document for which they seek comments view the FTC Comment Document. Apparently this broad document has been undergoing review since 2012. Note that if you have any comments, they must be submitted by 4 April 2016. You can also review any comments on the FTC Website as they pursue their charter to promote competition and protect and educate consumers.
The new “rules” reflect revisions to existing interpretations of:
- Surface application of precious metals (i.e., platings)
- Products containing more than one precious metal (Vermeil, Silver and Gold Fill)
- Alloys with precious metals below minimum thresholds
- Lead-glass-filled stones
- Cultured Diamonds
- Use of the term “gem”
- Treatments to pearl products
1.Surface Applications of Precious Metals
Proposal to require a “full” disclosure of the metals in a piece of jewelry, especially when it is an alloy or a plated product. Additionally, to strengthen the durability of surface applications of gold which would basically require at least 22karat gold, rather than the 10 karat which is found in much jewelry on the market. The commission is attempting to make statements based on what consumers may expect regarding the durability of a product. And to require the disclosure of rhodium plating on other precious metals. The jewelry industry uses Rhodium plating to avoid tarnishing of sterling silver.
2. Products Containing more than 1 Precious Metal
The proposed new section states it is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent the relative quantity of each metal. It asvises that descriptions should list precious metals in the order of their relative weight. So it’s all about wordsmithing so that the consumer is not duped.
3. Alloys with precious metals below minimum thresholds
Requires marketing of products to provide truthful information about the precious metal and avoid giving the impression that lessor quality materials will perform as well as higher quality materials.
4. Lead-Glass-Filled Stones
Proposes more accurate description of stones which have been infused with substantial quantities of lead glass. So if the stone has been infused with lead glass, that must be in the description.
This provides that certain misleading terms must be discontinued. For example “yellow emerald” can not be used to describe a golden beryl and “green amethyst” cannot be used to describe prasiolite.
6. Cultured Diamonds
Diamonds which are laboratory created must state exactly that, i.e., laboratory-grown, manufactured by, synthetic.
7 Misuse of the word “Gem”
Avoid the misuse of Gem names such as Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, Birthstone or Gemstone.
8 Treatments to Pearl Products
Provide adequate descriptors to disclose treatments, if it is (a) not permanent, (b) has special care requirements (c) has a significant effect on the products value.
The changes are aimed at accurate descriptions and names to safeguard the consumer and avoidance of confusing descriptions to products. You just need to label the items you sell honestly and accurately
The final wording is not yet cast, but generally these are the issues. Much of the logic of the FTC is based on what the FTC calls “reasonable expectations” of a customer. Many of their rules are based simply in “Truth in Advertising”, a noble cause, just not an common goal everywhere in the world.
The FTC and it’s rules are aimed at safeguarding the American consumer, but the big question is enforcement in an age where products available in every stores comes from world wide sources where the FTC has no authority.
How to Avoid Problems?
It comes down to knowing and trusting your supplier. It is also why we do not accept returns of Precious Metals findings. We cannot sell resale returns as the testing to verify the metals is too time consuming and expensive.
Take a look at our large selection of Findings.
As a jewelry-maker, I rely on information provided by suppliers, which in many cases, is sorely lacking. Until the FTC applies these rules to suppliers of components, I can’t see how end-users can be held responsible for accurate labeling when complete information is not reliably available.