N.Y. State Fines Underkaraters

Eighteen New York state retailers and two distributors were recently fined for gold underkarating, says New York state Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. The investigation centered on two Manhattan distributors—Alishaev Brothers and J and I Jewelry—both of whom, Spitzer says, falsely described their products as 10k gold. The companies agreed to pay $50,000 and $25,000, respectively, in civil penalties and costs to the attorney general’s office.The 18 retailers separately entered into settlements that require them to stop selling underkarated jewelry and pay fines totaling nearly $50,000.

“Gold should mean gold,” Spitzer says. “What these distributors and retailers were selling was nothing more than fool’s gold. This case should send a message to all distributors and retailers across the state: If you are misleading the public and selling an inferior product, you will pay the price.”

The products involved were mostly small chains, earrings, and rings, some of which were adorned with cartoon characters.

Spitzer says he was operating on a tip from the Jewelers Vigilance Committee. The gold was tested at JVC’s gold facility.

JVC executive director Cecilia Gardner says underkarating was particularly prevalent at small independent retail outlets located in areas where people shop for bargains. “The underkarated goods were often poorly made and a knock-off of licensed products,” she notes, adding that the investigations on this issue are continuing. Funding for the investigation was provided by a JCK industry grant.

Alishaev officials could not be reached for comment at press time, and calls to J and I Jewelry went unanswered.