Friday, June 14, 2013
Precious Metal and the Law
Now most people have noticed that the market price of metal (how much money is it worth just as metal) can affect jewelry prices, but there is another thing about precious metals that is very important to a Jeweler:
As a jeweler, or a jewelry buyer or seller, one of the things you have to understand is how the law affects the metal your jewelry is made from.
If I sell you jewelry that is supposed to be solid 14k Gold, and it is not (lets say i got something mixed up and i sold you gold plate instead) then i am guilty of...
yes, counterfeiting. Gold, especially, is governed by some very very strict labeling rules because of its use in currency. it is protected in the USA by the treasury department!
This is why, on one memorable occasion that i spilled a container of Gold-filled beads, into a container of 14k solid gold beads, that i had to list them ALL as Gold filled! (ouch)
if I sold you gold filled and you found out it was solid gold? no problem
if , however, I sold you "gold" and it was only gold filled? big problem.
If you ever see a small independent jeweler selling something that says "a mixture of 14k gold, gold plate, and base metal" or something like that, it probably means they forgot to label their supplies...
This is why some of us (cough cough) have chosen to only use one thing (in my case gold filled) unless we have a special request. We cannot get it mixed up if we only have one thing!
The bigger jewelry stores and even some of the smaller jewelers now have testing equipment that makes this a lot less of a problem, but when a single mistake can mean multi thousand dollar fines, you tend to be a bit paranoid.
Sadly this primarily affects the honest jewelers. The fly by night folks who set up at a show, knowing they will never be able to be found again? They are not going to be concerned about the fines, because you have to track them down first.
This can also affect the individual selling or re selling jewelry at things like flea markets. Yes, even if you just set up a table to sell a few old pieces you do not want anymore! If you label something as "gold" you become completely liable for that!
* I have seen some individuals who have sold what was actually White Gold, at Sterling Silver prices... and likewise seen people selling "German Silver" (Nickle) as Sterling. The issue of labeling is not limited to yellow metal... as a seller, its worth having it tested to be sure, as a buyer it pays to be cautious.
*Many antique and older items of jewelry have FAR more value as an antique than they are worth in material! As an example: vintage Bakelite (a type of plastic) is worth a small fortune to a collector, but its "just plastic".
It is often worth getting it officially appraised and tested by a reputable jeweler (preferably one who handles estate sales and antiques if it is an older piece) before making any decisions.
* Its easy to take advantage of a customer, if they are trying to cheat you.
sounds weird, doesn't it?
If the customer is trying to take advantage of the "poor merchant" because "they don't know how valuable this is" then they are easy targets for a merchant who has something that looks valuable, and really is not.
so if you think you are cheating the merchant? ... you may be getting cheated...