Excerpts from thoughts shared with fellow dealers/collectors in April 1997.
Greetings: I wish I could tiptoe into this subject, which has been on my mind for some time, so please consider the information in the spirit it is offered, that is, not meant to offend anyone. While we are all aware that the jewelry we are dealing with, is, for the most part, costume jewelry consisting of non-precious metals, rhinestones, glass and faux "everything", we must realize that some, perhaps many, of our potential customers, do not have the knowledge or experience to make this distinction.
Right now I think our current customers are fairly well informed, but I also believe that the numbers of those who aren't will increase, as www shopping increases. So when we say ruby, sapphire, diamond, emerald, amethyst, garnet, pearl, turquoise, amber, aqua, etc., we need to qualify it as being artificial or simulated, and perhaps the "color of" (ie: amethyst-color rhinestones, or even better, amethyst-color glass rhinestones). Gold and silver should also be qualified as color, plated, washed, sterling, or whatever.. There are laws, to benefit consumers, about this. It is misrepresentation to describe a purple glass stone as an amethyst, a plated metal bracelet as "gold", a faux pearl as "pearl", or a brown glass as "topaz".
Some of you may recall (probably better than I) the lawsuit brought against a media shopping place in regard to the misleading names they were calling some of the "gemstones". This one, I think, was settled out of court. Another one involved a transportation entity magazine in which they offered, for sale, a diamond ring of certain quality. Now, while there is some subjectivity in the grading of diamonds, when the quality advertised and the quality delivered differ too much, then it becomes a fraud. The airline and the supplier were sued in a class action suit. The result was that any purchaser had the option of returning the ring for a refund OR getting a ring which met the original standards. Since the original price was more suited to the lower quality, this involved a considerable amount of money. Just a thought, but I sure wouldn't want to replace a gaudy rhinestone piece with actual gaudy diamonds!!! or rubies!!! just because I didn't identify the material correctly.
We are small potatoes compared with big industry, but to our customers we ARE the professionals and the experts. If we mislead them, even unintentionally, we do ourselves and our profession/hobby a great disservice. In addition to laws, there is a watchdog (not meant as a derogatory term) out there, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, voluntarily supported by the members of the fine jewelry industry. It is their mission to protect the jewelry consumer and ferret out the scofflaws. Even to the extent of businesses who advertise sale prices on items that were never sold at a higher price. That's right, there are laws in many states that you cannot advertise 50% off unless you have actually had the item for sale for the 100% price for a certain length of time. Ask one of the big catalog stores about THAT one.
If you think ONE general disclaimer or explanation on your site is adequate, you might want to check it out. I hear a general disclaimer on one of the front pages did not work for a mail order catalog that was calling the items gold instead of goldtone. I wish I had a better memory, but I think where one firm ran into trouble was using the word "like", as in "diamond-like". This might be a good word to avoid.
Having said all of this, I realize it is difficult to think in these terms when writing descriptions and you may even catch me out, if you watch my site.
In conferring with Isabelle Bryman, owner of Jewelcollect, before posting this, she brought up another very good point (mea culpa!). This has to do with those "NEW" labels which we attach to our items to help our viewers locate our most recently posted items. The point Isabelle made is that this is very likely to be interpreted as meaning a new item as in "fresh-from-the-manufacturer and never used". You can imagine that the slightly worn piece we think is so wonderful is not going to thrill a buyer who thinks she is buying a new one. I am sure you will all come up with some catchy phrase we can all borrow....the best suggestion has been "just in". Whatever we decide to use, it will become even more important that it is very clear, as we acquire more customers whose first language is not English.
For information taken from the Federal Trade Commission Guidelines on this subject, proceed to ADDENDUM
Yours in an effort toward more professionalism,
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Gaynor, P. O. Box 35038, Tucson, AZ 85740-5297 Website est. February 1997
Janet W. Gaynor, P. O. Box 35038, Tucson, AZ 85740-5297
Website est. February 1997