New Jersey officials found underkarating of gold jewelry

Camden County (New Jersey) Consumer Protection/Weights and Measures Office found that nearly two-thirds of gold jewelry that were tested did not meet the karating standards set by the Federal Trade Commission. In addition pieces violated New Jersey State law and the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act, according to a statement by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.

Camden County approached JVC and requested to use their Precious Metals Testing laboratory to assay items purchased from retailers in Camden County between February and June 2002, says Cecilia L. Gardner, JVC’s executive director and general counsel. Stores were selected at random; prices of items ranged from $20 to $149. Out of 36 items tested, 23 did not meet the standards set by the Federal Trade Commission.

“Once again, our industry monitoring showed underkarating of the gold in jewelry items victimizing buyers at bargain stores. This activity damages retailers’ reputation for integrity, and constitutes fraud,” Gardner said.

Underkarating refers to the situation when a gold item is represented or marked with a quality mark (10K, 14K, 18K, etc.) yet doesn’t live up to those markings when assayed. JVC Precious Metals Testing facility uses a non-destructive x-ray assay to determine karatage of jewelry made from precious metals.

“JVC’s expertise in both the legalities of the jewelry industry and their Precious Metals Testing facility were very valuable,” said Patricia Tuck-Davis, Director/ Superintendent, Camden County Protection/Weights and Measures Office. “Misrepresenting the amount of a precious metal—gold, silver, platinum—is a serious problem for consumers. With JVC’s support we’re helping to alert the public to ask more questions.”