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FTC Revises Jewellery Guides

Effective 16 August, the Federal Trade Commission is revising its Guides for the Jewellry, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries, which provide advice to businesses on how to avoid making deceptive claims about precious metal, pewter, diamond, gemstone and pearl products and when to provide certain types of disclosures about such products.

The revisions concern surface application of precious metals, products containing more than one precious metal, alloys with precious metals in amounts below minimum thresholds, composite gemstone products, varietals, cultured diamonds, qualifying claims about man-made gemstones, pearl treatment disclosures, use of the term “gem,” misleading illustrations, definition of diamond, and exemptions recognised in the assay for gold, silver and platinum. Highlights of the revisions include the following.

  • The terms “silver” or “platinum” should not be used to describe all or part of a coated product unless they are adequately qualified to indicate that the product has only a surface layer of the metal.
  • Marketers should disclose the purity of coatings made with a gold, silver or platinum alloy.
  • Rhodium surface applications should be disclosed on products advertised as precious metal, such as rhodium-plated items marketed as “white gold” or “silver.”
  • Precious metals should generally be listed in the order of their relative weight from greatest to least.
  • New guidance addresses the increased prevalence of deceptive claims resulting from the marketing of composite gemstone products made with gemstone material and any amount of filler or binder, such as lead glass.
  • It is unfair or deceptive to mark or describe a product with an incorrect varietal name, which describes a division of gem species or gems based on colour, type of optical phenomenon or other distinguishing characteristic of appearance.
  • A “cultured diamond” claim may be qualified with words or phrases similar to those detailed in the Guides (e.g., “laboratory-created,” “laboratory-grown” or “(manufacturer name)-created”) even when they do not appear immediately adjacent to the word “cultured,” provided it discloses clearly and conspicuously that the product is not a mined stone.
  • Treatments to pearls and cultured pearls should be disclosed if the treatment is not permanent, creates special care requirements or significantly affects value.
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