Fraud and Deception in Internet Jewelry Stores: Caveat Emptor – Part II

Recently I wrote of fraud and deception in Internet Jewelry stores.  In that post I discussed misrepresentations in advertising and photography on internet jewelry storefronts.

Today I evalauted a pair of diamond stud earrings that were purchased on the internet from a “reputable seller” who has more than 40,000+ of reviews on multiple platforms – EBAY and ETSY as well as his own website.

The earrings were advertised as “1.00 CT Natural Diamond Studs 14k White Gold”.  The price of $399.99 was incredibly inexpensive for 1.00 carat TW diamond studs.pompeii3 Studs ad

Honestly, the diamonds in the studs were not as bad as I expected.  Surprisingly, the diamond quality was within the color and clarity ranges as stated in the online web advertisement.  The mountings were very light and not of the best quality – but this was to be expected.

The earrings came with a free appraisal from an “independent” authority  located in Chicago, Illinois.  This appraisal reflected the exact information as stated on the selPampeii Appraisaller’s website advertisement.  The Appraisal letterhead stated the Appraisal company’s name and city but had no street address or telephone number.  An internet search for this company found no such company – nor did my research into the directory of the jewelry industry.

Federal Trade Commission guidelines state:

§ 23.17 Misrepresentation of weight and “total weight.”
(a) It is unfair or deceptive to misrepresent the weight of a diamond.
(b)  . . .
(c) If diamond weight is stated as decimal parts of a carat (e.g., .47 carat), the stated figure should be accurate to the last decimal place. If diamond weight is stated to only one decimal place (e.g., .5 carat), the stated figure should be accurate to the second decimal place (e.g., “.5 carat” could represent a diamond weight between .495-.504).

In accordance with the terms set forth by the Federal Trade Commission, a pair 1.00 carat total weight earrings must weigh a minimum of .995 carats or more.  The purchased earrings weighed 0.932 carats -nearly 7% less than the advertised weight.Pompeii Scale Image

To the non-jewelry minded novice, this is the equivalent of paying for a 1 Lb New York strip steak and  getting cheated by more than one ounce on the price.  This may not sound like much but it is dishonest, deceptive and fraudulent!  Unlike a  supermarket steak, the price of a diamond is usually in the hundreds or thousands of dollars per carat.

The difference in value is much more significant when dealing in diamonds.

Because diamond pricing is based on an escalating price-per-carat basis, two diamonds which weigh .465 carats each are worth significant less than the value of two diamonds that each weigh .50 carats.

Using a standard diamond wholesale pricing guide utilized by the diamond industry, the purchased earrings are worth 32% less than the advertised pair of earrings!

i have no doubt than the world has changed in significant ways.  Consumers who once bought at exclusive stores now routinely purchase consumables and fashion at Walmart or Target or Costco. At the same time, many items that were acquired from bricks-and-mortar stores are now purchased from Amazon and millions of other internet sellers.

Yes, there may be differences in quality standards in a $1000.00 suit purchased in a high end specially store as opposed to Target.  I do not believe that Target or Amazon engage in deceptive and fraudulent practices in their item descriptions or their marketing promotions.

As an industry participant, it is my opinion that fraud and deception in internet jewelry storefronts – or anywhere – should not be tolerated. This is in the best interests of the consumer as well as to the  integrity of the jewelry industry.

Neil Reiff

 

 

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