All that glitters is not gold, warn Trading Standards Service

Date published: 12 February 2018

We can all get caught up in the romance on Valentine’s Day and many people may be thinking of popping the all-important question. The Northern Ireland Trading Standards Service (TSS) is reminding consumers to do some ‘hallmarking homework’ before buying an engagement ring.

All that glitters is not gold, warn Trading Standards Service
All that glitters is not gold, warn Trading Standards Service

Jewellery described as gold, silver, platinum or palladium is legally required to be Hallmarked by an independent Assay Office to guarantee that the precious metal is of the fineness stated. Jewellers must also display a Hallmarking notice which can be obtained from the British Hallmarking Council. This notice shows what markings should be present.

Consumers should use this notice to check for hallmarks. These are often very small and an eyeglass will be required to see them. Don’t be afraid to ask the jeweller to provide you with one. This could help to ensure that consumers avoid the disappointment and potential embarrassment of buying jewellery that has not been accurately described or has a counterfeit hallmark.

Sharon Muldoon of the Trading Standards Service said: “Consumers should take time when making such an expensive purchase to ensure the quality and authenticity of what they are buying. Don’t feel under pressure. Buying a ring without a Hallmark may mean that you are not getting what you pay for. Jewellers should ensure that the items they sell comply with the requirements of the Hallmarking Act.”            

Jewellers are also reminded of their obligation to display prices for jewellery on sale. A consumer should be able to see how much an item costs without seeking assistance. The only exemptions to this requirement are any items of jewellery, precious metal or watches displayed in a jeweller’s window with a selling price in excess of £3,000.

If you are aware of un-hallmarked jewellery being offered for sale you should report the matter to Trading Standards via Consumerline on 0300 600 62 62.  

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Hallmarking Act 1973 creates a criminal offence for a business to supply or offer to supply relevant jewellery without a Hallmark. The only exemptions are items that fall beneath the specified weight thresholds which are 1 gram for gold or palladium, 7.78 grams for silver and 0.5 grams for platinum.
  2. The Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations 2008 creates an offence for a business to mislead consumers.
  3. The Prices Act 1974 creates offences for non-compliance with the Price Marking Order (Northern Ireland) 2004.
  4. For press enquiries please contact DfE Press Office on 028 9052 9604. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.

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