FTC: Disclose Platinum Percentages

When advertising platinum that includes a large percentage
of base metal alloys, companies must disclose the metal’s exact composition,
the Federal Trade Commission ruled on Dec. 16.

The new rule was one of a
number of revisions
the FTC made to the platinum section of its Guides for the Jewelry,
Precious Metal, and Pewter Industries
.

“In recent years, some marketers have added base metals,
such as copper and cobalt, to platinum jewelry sold to consumers,” said an FTC
statement. “While this has made jewelry marketed as ‘platinum’ more affordable,
it also has made buying it more complicated, and increased the need to clarify
how combination platinum/base metal alloy products should be marked and
advertised to prevent deception.”

The revised Guides
say that when using base metal alloys which contain between 50 percent and 85 percent platinum,
marketers must disclose the product’s full composition, by name and not
abbreviation, as well as the percentage of each metal it contains (i.e. “75
percent platinum–25 percent copper”).

If the product does not have the same attributes or properties
as traditional platinum products, that must also be disclosed, the FTC said.

As in the past, any item that contains less than 500 parts
per thousand pure platinum may not be marked or described as “platinum.” But jewelry that is at least 85 percent
pure platinum may be referred to as “traditional platinum.”   

If an item is marked or described as “platinum” without any
qualification, it must have at least 950 parts per thousand pure platinum. For these products, the platinum
percentage doesn’t have to be disclosed.

Despite requests made by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee
and others in the industry, the FTC declined to issue detailed guidance on
products containing platinum plating or coatings, citing the need to do
consumer perception studies, the JVC noted in a statement.

The FTC also released two new publications regarding
platinum, one for consumers and the second for the business community, which
can be found here.