FTC Jewelry Guide Roundtable Held

On June 19, 2013, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) held an industry roundtable in Washington, D.C. to discuss potential revisions to its Jewelry Guides. Among other things, the Guides set forth standards to describe gemstones and precious metals, including thickness and fineness. Although the Guides do not have the force of statutory law, they can be taken into account when determining whether certain marketing practices are unfair or deceptive acts that are unlawful.

The Roundtable comprised two panels. The first was devoted to the issue of marketing of alloy products containing precious metals (Gold, Silver, Platinum) in amounts below the minimum thresholds established by the Guides. This has become relevant dues to the skyrocketing cost of precious metals, which has caused many manufacturers to market products of less than 10k fineness, or to combine a lesser quantity of gold and silver with base metals while continuing to describe them in ways that may be confusing for the consumer to determine the value of what it is that they are purchasing. The panel focused on what guidance should be provided to advise sellers how to describe these products non-deceptively.

The second panel dealt with the issue of surface-layer applications of precious metals on jewelry products, and whether it is necessary to amend the terminology used in the Jewelry Guides or provide additional guidance to prevent consumer deception.

The Commission staff stated that the FTC would now take the industry comments into account and propose specific revisions to the Guides. It will invite additional public review and discussion before finalizing them.


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