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December 19, 2002

All That Glitters Ain't Gold!

So you rushed off to a local mall or flea market to purchase your holiday gifts in a hurry. Thought you could take advantage of those great advertised bargains at the jewelry stores where you never pay full price for the items you purchase? Well, guess what? You may not be getting the "deal" you had bargained for!

Roger C. Bogsted, Commissioner of Nassau's chief consumer protection agency, enlisted the help of District Attorney, Denis Dillon, and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee in a consumer advocacy initiative, "to aggressively root out fraud in the jewelry business."

Unscrupulous sellers of "gold" jewelry were selling gold well below the advertised karat content in locations throughout Nassau County. That is, 14K was more like 12.5K to 13K, and, even more offensive, 10K jewelry was assayed in the 8.1K to 8.6K range, a level at which the jewelry does not even qualify as gold. The net effect is that merchants who sell, and manufacturers that make this gold jewelry are picking the pockets of consumers who pay good money for what they think is a bargain. "Once again, the little guy is taking the hit while others profit from their misdeeds," commented Commissioner Bogsted. "We cannot, and we will not tolerate these unscrupulous actions taking place in our County."

In total, purchases were made in 11 jewelry establishments with five passing the karat test and six failing. Twenty-six pieces of jewelry were bought by undercover investigators and twenty of those were found to be significantly underkarated. However, of the six remaining pieces that passed, four were items that were "knockoffs" or items that needed to be licensed, but were not.

Some indications of jewelry that may not be legitimate are those that may not bear any trademark or quality stamp, have rough edges, have a green cast, and have indistinct features. Items that frequently failed the assay test were charms and earrings. Consumers are advised to always get a receipt specifying what they purchase.

"If you're shopping for good jewelry, go to stores that have a reputation for selling the best product. Don't be fooled by come-ons that promise you bargains but wind up costing you your hard-earned dollars" was the final advice from Commissioner Bogsted. "If you feel that you've been duped by a jewelry establishment, try to return your purchase for a refund. If you are refused, call our office at 516-571-2600 to see how our office can help you."