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1990: Diamond Jewelry Consumers Must Acquire Diamond Buying Education

January 1999

New consumer protection regulations have been proposed by the New York City Department of Consumer Affairs. We hope the advice and tips from the Consumer Bill of Rights outlined by the Consumer Affairs Commissioner, Jules Polonetsky, will be adopted as a guideline for other cities and states to protect jewelry and loose diamond buyers. The Diamond Registry joins with Commissioner Polonetsky to urge jewelers to post the DCA Jewelry Buyer’s Bill of Rights on jewelry shop walls so that consumers “can arm themselves with the most important tool needed to be a successful shopper – an education.”

As a protection against “bogus bargains,” the phrase coined by Commissioner Polonetsky, the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA) released the “Jewelry Buyer’s Bill of Rights“:

You have the right to a receipt for all purchases over $20 which includes the price, the tax amount and the legal name of the seller.

You have the right to a detailed receipt for purchases over $75 which includes the above information as well as a description of the article and its composition. In the case of diamonds, a receipt must also include accurate diamond grading and carat weight information.

You have the right to know the jeweler’s refund and exchange policy.

You have the right to information disclosing any treatments or enhancements to the stone you purchase.

You have the right to pay the currently advertised price. A jeweler must live up to the price or discount advertised on a flyer or in the newspaper.

We recommend you avoid shopping at stores that employ hawkers who stand on the sidewalk and use high-pressure tactics to draw you into their stores.

In New York City, you have the right to file a complaint with the DCA if you have a dispute with a jeweler.

The proposed New York City regulations would target businesses who “inflate the price of merchandise in order to make exaggerated sales claims.” One of the culprits cited in the Department’s inspection sweep of New York City businesses was Macy’s. DCA inspectors were shown “a pair of plain, 14-karat gold earrings” marked 50% off, with an additional 15% off the original price of $300. But when the inspectors had the earrings appraised by a jewelry specialist they were told the fair market value was $127.50. Once the numbers have been crunched, one finds that the Macy’s “sale” price was exactly what the original price should have been.

Now some may ask, if the business running the inflate & mark-down scam does eventually get down to the price an item ought to be, why should there by any regulations? The answer affects all those in the jewelry trade: though a customer attracted by the false 50%-off advertisements may be fooled, and, Unfortunately, retailers who are more scrupulous in their advertising are at a serious disadvantage, since even though they may be offering competitive prices, they’re not making outlandish sale claims,” said Commissioner Polonetsky. It is in no ones best interest to cheat the purchasing public.

Commissioner Polonetsky said, “I applaud the 47th Street Business Improvement District (BID) for proactively seeking to educate their customers by urging their merchants to post the DCA jewelry Buyers Bill of Right in their stores.” The Commissioner also offered consumer tips for purchasing diamond jewelry:

Buy from a trusted firm.

Have the jewelry appraised by an independent party.

Ask about “Fracture Filled” and other treatments

Look for gold trademarks and karat weight

Don’t be dazzled by “discounts.”

We at the Diamond Registry would add:

Never buy a diamond just because it seems inexpensive. If it’s cheap, there’s a reason.

Never buy a diamond only because it has a certificate. A certificate is a professional tool, it may well indicate that the diamond is of poor quality.

Never buy a diamond based solely on the famous 4-C’s (cut, color, clarity and carat weight). They are only four of the dozens of variables that determine the value of a diamond.

Never buy a diamond over the telephone (or the Internet) from a company that has not been around at least ten years. Buy diamonds only from firms or dealers who have reputations for honesty and fair dealing.

Preferably, buy loose diamonds and have them set to assure that there are no hidden flaws.

Never buy a diamond as a short-term investment. A diamond is like a house – it should be purchased, enjoyed and, like a house, it will keep it‘s intrinsic value. And don’t forget, a diamond’s dividend is your joy in it’s beauty.

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