The New Jersey state legislature went on its summer vacation without voting on a bill that would have regulated how jewelers can purchase used jewelry. The bill, A 2712, was tabled following a last minute phone campaign led by the New Jersey Jewelers Association.
The bill had passed the Senate and was expected to be approved June 23 in the state assembly, said NJJA board member Paul Sanford of Paul Sanford Jewelers, Somerville, N.J. The jeweler credits the last-minute phone campaign and the support of Jewelers of America for legislators deciding to table the bill.
“We’re very pleased. We made some very good contacts through this and we’re getting a lot of support,” Sanford said. “People are asking for more information on what they can do to help and how to join Jewelers of America.”
The bill, designed to deter the fencing of stolen jewelry, would have, among other things, required jewelers to:
• Keep the used jewelry for a minimum of 14 days;
• Maintain a permanent record—including name, address, telephone number of anyone they bought used jewelry from;
• Identify any characteristics of the used jewelry;
• Verify the identity of the person selling the jewelry by requesting valid photo identification;
• Take photograph of the jewelry being purchased and maintain the images for a year;
• Deliver to the local police department a record of used jewelry purchased by the jeweler each week.
The legislation specifically excludes pawnbrokers and other merchants (such as coin dealers and check cashing operations) in which jewelry isn’t the company’s main business. It is this exclusion that NJJA was fighting, Sanford said.
“The fact that it’s singling out independent jewelers is what we’re against,” he said. “We don’t want to buy stolen jewelry. We’re not against the bill entirely, but in its present form its unpalatable. It singles out one industry.”
He added, “How is that faire to regulate independent jewelers and not everybody else. … We want equal regulation. It’s pretty much what we want.”
Any jeweler in violation of the bill would have been fined $10,000 for the first offense and $20,000 for the second and each subsequent offense.
While the bill was tabled, it may be taken up again during the next legislative session, so Sanford said NJJA will continue to be on top of the issue. JA, which normally doesn’t get involved in state legislation, will be working with NJJA, he added, because there’s a possibility that this kind of legislation may taken to other states.
“We’re going to follow through with fighting the bill,” he said.