The Commission’s call follows a recent Disputes Tribunal case in which Auckland jewellery store Carati was ordered to refund the full NZ$5600 purchase price on an engagement ring after the tribunal found the buyer was not informed of the rhodium-plating or the need for future re-plating.
New Zealand’s Commerce Commission has warned retailers selling rhodium-plated jewellery to ensure that consumers are aware that it “may require regular maintenance” or run the risk of breaching the Fair Trading Act.
“Many consumers believe, and are entitled to believe, that when they purchase jewellery made from white gold that it is simply that,” said Commerce Commission enforcement manager Greg Allan.
In a letter to the NZ jewellery industry the Commission said that while it is not concerned by the practice of rhodium-plating white gold or silver, it is important that consumers are not misled about the nature of jewellery and are aware of the implications of rhodium- plating.
“Consumers are entitled to receive all information necessary for them to make a fully informed decision about goods before they purchase. If they are not given relevant information, this may place the retailer at risk of breaching the Fair Trading Act,” said Allan.
“If consumers have concerns about white gold or silver jewellery they have already purchased, they should raise the issue in the first instance with the retailer.
“However, if consumers feel that they have been misled about white gold or silver jewellery then they can register their concerns with us. The Commission will assess on a case by case basis whether further action is appropriate. Consumers can also take a claim personally to the Disputes Tribunal.”
The Jewellers & Watchmakers of New Zealand has responded to the Commission’s warning by circulating the “criteria regarding informing the public about rhodium plating” to all its members.
JWNZ President Steve Crout said rhodium-plating is an industry issue, not just a retail one.
“All sellers in the supply chain – importers, agents, manufacturers and valuers – must fully inform buyers,” he said.
“All JWNZ members agree to comply with our Code of Ethics and Code of Conduct as well as the Fair Trading Act 1986, which prohibits trade conduct that is misleading or deceptive.”