Study says a third of gold jewellery sold online may be fake | Securing Industry

A UK study of gold jewellery purchased from online listings on sites like Amazon and eBay has found that 36 per cent were suspected counterfeit.

The study – carried out on behalf of the British Hallmarking Council (BHC) in collaboration with brand protection firms Incopro and WRi Group – suggests online consumers of gold jewellery are regularly being duped by internet traders.

The BHC and Goldsmiths’ Company Assay Office, which also contributed to the research, say that 50 per cent cuts to the funding of Trading Standards over the last five years, as well as inadequate enforcement powers mean that there is little comeback for fraudulent sellers.

“It is illegal to sell anything in the UK made from a precious metal (silver, gold, platinum and palladium) over a certain weight without a hallmark – a stamp of quality that protects the consumer by confirming that what they are buying is made from real precious metal,” say the companies.

“The research suggests around 150,000 items of fake ‘gold’ jewellery could be listed for sale in the UK each year, through online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon,” they add.

The study was carried out by looking at online listings for gold jewellery items over a 10-day period and found that 36 per cent – 6,377 of 17,657 ads with an estimated value of more than £1.1m ($1.4m) – were suspect. The listings on eBay, Amazon and other sites like Preloved were not advertised as hallmarked.

The researchers also found that around a quarter (24 per cent) of listings were suspected as fake – for examples because they carried a suspiciously low price – and were being sold illegally.

eBay sellers alone accounted for over half (56 per cent) of all suspect items of ‘gold’ jewellery being sold online, where there was no mention of a hallmark.

“The UK Hallmarking Act (1973) was put in place to protect consumers and retail jewellers from counterfeits, but the application of the legislation to online trading activity remains untested,” comments Noel Hunter, Chairman of the BHC.

He adds: “we have seen little appetite from the internet giants to step up enforcement or adequately protect consumers.”

The BHC, Goldsmiths and other assay offices are asking the government to work with them on a “robust enforcement strategy that protects consumers and businesses from internet based, unfair trading practices,” and to encourage online retailers to increase hallmarking information on listings.

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