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FTC and gemstone treatments


#1
    Unless otherwise stated, all colored stones are assumed to be
subjected to a stable and possibly undetectable color enhancement
process.

The above statement should be on every retail sales receipt, as
suggested by the FTC.And, I believe they suggest stated verbally
also.

I’m still amazed that I have never heard of anyone being prosecuted
for not disclosing treated gem sales. Many of my customers that come
in with a stone they purchased on QVC or other related TV show, or at
some island vacation impulse buy, has never been told, or have this
in print on their receipt. I purchases some pearls at a sale at Ross
Simon once (a very good price…I thought) that were stated as
naturally colored. The price was so good, I insisted to get the
general manager on the phone to confirm…of course he could not and
knew nothing about the FTC’s regulations…until I told him. I see it
constantly in many mail order catalogs.

Congrats to Stuller for disclosing every gemstone item they sell
with a chart of enhancement procedures.

Has anyone heard of any crackdown by the FTC on this matter.

Thomas Blair CBJ
Island Gold Works


Jewelers of America Certified Bench Jeweler


#2
I'm still amazed that I have never heard of anyone being
prosecuted for not disclosing treated gem sales. 

I’m not aware anyone has been prosecuted for this but they have been
sued for it and frankly that’s a lot scarier to me than the FTC
cracking down (not that we haven’t been disclosing for 20 years
anyway). Because the FTC has written the rules as it has, an
uninformed consumer can sue a company that did not disclose. Usually
most of the time people haven’t spent enough money to make it
worthwhile to sue, but occasionally it happens.

Daniel R. Spirer, GG
Spirer Somes Jewelers
1794 Massachusetts Ave
Cambridge, MA 02140
617-491-6000
@spirersomes
www.spirersomes.com


#3

Here we go with QVC, et al. Television jewelry sales really burn my
bottom!! I’m still completely offended by ACN TV’s sale of a
"Tsavorite-colored Lab-created Obsidian" to my mother. Yes, her son
is a G.G. and she should have asked me first and there was no harm
done, since she did return it for a full refund, but who in the
world without gemological training would know that the gemstone in
question was only green glass? For those without gemological
training, obsidian is a form of natural, volcanic glass, and is a
natural gemstone. “Lab-created Obsidian” is glass, too…only it is
manmade. Even the FTC doesn’t have a Guide for this rip-off. After
all, the advertised nomenclature is correct, however misleading it
is to a lay person.

Okay, with that off my chest once again, on to the FTC.
Unfortunately, the FTC doesn’t make the regulations you asked the
general manager for, nor do they make laws. They only produce Guides
which offer, well, guides. Can they crack down? Yes, but not in the
way most people think. They can investigate situations and, if a LAW
has been broken, they can initiate actions to bring charges. But the
FTC’s Guides are just that; guides, not laws. There are other tools
at their disposal, but bear in mind that they are not a lawmaking
body. Can a person or business ignore FTC Guides? Absolutely. Can
they get away with it? Certainly, but only if the consumer does not
complain about it. The FTC can and does bring charges against those
who violate their Guide’s suggestions because an undisclosed
treatment often does violate laws that are in place. To prove my
point about ‘regulations’ and ‘laws’ regarding the FTC, here’s a
snip from a press release on the FTC’s web site where they had taken
an action against Zale Corporation, who had deceptively advertised a
line of imitation pearl jewelry as cultured pearl jewelry:

The FTC’s Jewelry Guides do not, themselves, have the force of law,
but they offer guidance to the industry about complying with the
Federal Trade Commission Act, which prohibits deceptive practices.

See? Right from their own ‘mouth’. FTC guides do not have the force
of law. They only offer guidance. You can read the entire press
release by clicking on the link at the bottom of the Jewelry Guides
page under Law Enforcement.

Now, here’s the root of what I was trying to say in my original post
reply. Go to www.ftc.gov. On the left side of the page, click on the
"For Business" link. From there, also on the left, click on “Jewelry
Guides”. That will take you to Section 23 of the Guides. In there,
you will find all of the FTC’s guides relating to fair practice in
the jewelry trade. Gemstone treatment disclosure is in section 23.22
and reads:

23.22 Disclosure of Treatments to Gemstones It is unfair or deceptive
to fail to disclose that a gemstone has been treated if:

(a) the treatment is not permanent. The seller should disclose that
the gemstone has been treated and that the treatment is or may not
be permanent;

(b) the treatment creates special care requirements for the
gemstone. The seller should disclose that the gemstone has been
treated and has special care requirements. It is also recommended
that the seller disclose the special care requirements to the
purchaser;

© the treatment has a significant effect on the stone’s value. The
seller should disclose that the gemstone has been treated.

Notice that each item uses the word “should”. Not “must”. The seller
"should" disclose certain treatments. And even then, only under
these three listed conditions. According to subparagraph (a), if the
treatment is considered permanent, it needn’t be disclosed. That
leaves out the vast majority of gemstones on the market. I won’t run
down the list because its simply too long and if I miss some, I’ll
be responding to dozens of replies about the omission. (b) is a good
suggestion, of course, as is ©. However, the word “should” in all
three subparagraphs pretty much ruins the efficacy of the Guides.

The bottom line? Even with the word ‘should’, as opposed to 'must’
in the Guides, unfair trade practices such as not disclosing
gemstone treatments can not only be proven, but can be enforced. The
general public is becoming more knowledgeable of the treatment of
gemstones and “crackdowns” can and will happen. Failure to disclose
gemstone treatments can only hurt the gem and jewelry trade. Please
practice disclosure, but only if you want there to BE a gem and
jewelry trade.

James S. Duncan, G.G.