Advertising Platinum Jewelry

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Explains the new portion of the FTC’s Jewelry Guide that discusses requirements for jewelry sellers when marking and advertising platinum jewelry and disclosures concerning products alloyed with non-precious metals.

The Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC’s) Jewelry Guides describe how to accurately mark and advertise the platinum content of the jewelry you market or sell. Platinum jewelry can be alloyed with other metals: either precious platinum group metals (PGMs) — iridium, palladium, ruthenium, rhodium, and osmium — or non-precious base metals like copper and cobalt. In recent years, manufacturers have alloyed some platinum jewelry with a larger percentage of base metals. Recent revisions to the FTC’s Jewelry Guides address the marking of jewelry made of platinum and non-precious metal alloys and when disclosures are appropriate

When Disclosures Should Be Made

Product descriptions should not be misleading, and they should disclose material information to jewelry buyers. If the platinum/base metal-alloyed item you are selling does not have the properties of products that are almost pure platinum or have a very high percentage of platinum, you should disclose that to prospective buyers. They may want to know about the value of the product as well as its durability, luster, density, scratch resistance, tarnish resistance, its ability to be resized or repaired, how well it retains precious metal over time, and whether it’s hypoallergenic. You may claim your product has these properties only if you have competent and reliable scientific evidence that your product — that has been alloyed with 15 to 50 percent non-precious or base metals — doesn’t differ in a material way from a product that is 85 percent or more pure platinum.

Terms Used in Advertising

  • Any item that is less than 500 parts per thousand pure platinum should not be marked or described as platinum even if you modify the term by adding the piece’s platinum content in percentages or parts per thousand.
  • In recent years, some jewelry with platinum has been alloyed with higher percentages of non-precious or base metals — from 15 to 50 percent. These platinum/base metal alloys contain from 500 to 850 parts per thousand pure platinum, but the total of pure platinum and other PGMs is less than 950 parts per thousand — or less than 95 percent of the item. Use of the term “platinum” in advertising for these pieces is permitted, but the amounts of pure platinum and other metals in the piece should be stated using the full name of each metal and the percentage of each metal in the piece. Do not use abbreviations or “parts per thousand” in advertising for platinum/base metal alloys. For example:
    • An item that is 75 percent pure platinum and 25 percent copper should be labeled 75% Platinum 25% Copper.
    • An item that is 60 percent pure platinum, 35 percent cobalt and 5 percent rhodium should be labeled 60% Platinum, 35% Cobalt, 5% Rhodium.
  • For items containing between 500 and 850 parts per thousand pure platinum combined with PGMs, marketers should state the amount of pure platinum and the amount of other PGMs. For example:
    • An item that is 80 percent pure platinum and 20 percent palladium should be labeled 800 Pt. 200 Pd.
    • An item that is 75 percent pure platinum and 25 percent rhodium should be labeled 750 Pt. 250 Rh.
    • An item that is 60 percent pure platinum and 35 percent iridium should be labeled 600 Pt. 350 Ir.
  • Jewelry that has 850 parts per thousand pure platinum — meaning that it is 85 percent pure platinum and 15 percent other metals — may be referred to as “traditional platinum.” The other metals can include either PGMs or non-precious base metals. These items may be labeled with the amount of pure platinum and the word “platinum” or an abbreviation of the word. For instance:
    • An item that is 85 percent pure platinum should be labeled 850Plat. or 850Pt.
    • An item that is 90 percent pure platinum should be labeled 900Plat. or 900Pt.
  • If an item is marked or described as platinum without any other qualification, it should have at least 950 parts per thousand pure platinum. It is not necessary to disclose the percentage or parts per thousand. Platinum means an item is at least 95 percent pure platinum

Examples

If You See This on The LabelWhat It Means
PlatinumAt least 95% pure platinum
850Plat.85% pure platinum and 15% platinum group or base metals
800 Pt. 200 Pd.

80% pure platinum and 20% palladium; the product contains 100% platinum group metals

75% Platinum 25% Copper

75% pure platinum and 25% copper; the total of pure platinum and other platinum group metals is less than 95%

No platinum labelLess than 50% pure platinum

For More Information

The FTC works for the consumer to prevent fraudulent, deceptive, and unfair business practices in the marketplace and to provide information to help consumers spot, stop, and avoid them. To file a complaint or to get free information on consumer issues, visit ftc.gov or call toll-free, 1-877-FTC-HELP (1-877-382-4357); TTY: 1-866-653-4261. The FTC enters consumer complaints into the Consumer Sentinel Network, a secure online database and investigative tool used by hundreds of civil and criminal law enforcement agencies in the U.S. and abroad. 

Your Opportunity to Comment

The National Small Business Ombudsman and 10 Regional Fairness Boards collect comments from small businesses about federal compliance and enforcement activities. Each year, the Ombudsman evaluates the conduct of these activities and rates each agency's responsiveness to small businesses. Small businesses can comment to the Ombudsman without fear of reprisal. To comment, call toll-free 1-888-REGFAIR (1-888-734-3247) or go to www.sba.gov/ombudsman.

 

December 2010