Gold / Industry

State of Alaska Claims Jeweler Sold Fake Gold Nuggets


Alaska attorney general Treg R. Taylor is suing Ketchikan-based Soni Jewelers (which also does business as Colors Fine Jewelers) and its owner, Sunita “Soni” Lakhwani, for allegedly misrepresenting man-made gold quartz and imitation nuggets as natural gold mined in Alaska.

According to a complaint filed May 23 in Alaska Superior Court, salespeople at Soni and Colors stores in Ketchikan consistently told customers that gold quartz jewelry was made of 24k gold mined in Alaska and “worth thousands of dollars per ounce.” However, subsequent testing showed that the gold-colored veins in each stone were made of a low-purity alloy that was roughly half gold, the filing said.

Prosecutors further claimed that the stores’ salespeople told undercover investigators that gold nuggets the store sold were made of 24k gold from Alaska—but the nuggets were “actually imitations made of 14-karat gold shaped to resemble a natural nugget.”

Lakhwani later “admitted to Department of Law investigators that the quartz was not from Alaska and that she did not know where the jewelry was made,” the complaint said.

According to a May 23 state motion for a restraining order, one salesperson told an investigator who purchased jewelry undercover that its “stone is mined in the Yukon, so we buy the stone, we do cutting, and we do manufacturing, all that. This is the local manufacturing. This is not done in Los Angeles or in China or in Hong Kong. This is local manufacture.”

Lakhwani and her business have been charged with one count of violating the state’s Unfair Trade Practices Act. The motion for a restraining order asked that until a hearing is held on the matter, the stores be prohibited from continuing to make any false claims about their gold items. Any claims they wish to make about the products must be run by the state first, with documentation supporting the truthfulness of the sales pitch, the motion said.

No one at the stores could be reached for comment. A local news station was told Lakhwani was out of town and unavailable for comment.

(Photo: Getty Images)

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By: Rob Bates

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