December 16, 2010
The Federal Trade Commission announced today that it has revised the Platinum Section of the Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metal and Pewter Industries to reflect the use of base metal alloys in platinum jewelry. In particular, the revised Guides address how to mark and describe “platinum/base metal alloys” which contain between 50 and 85% platinum.
According to the revised Guides, advertising of these alloys should:
- Disclose the product’s full composition, by name and not abbreviation, and the percentage of each metal it contains – for example, “75% Platinum-25% Copper,” or “60% Platinum–35% Cobalt–5% Rhodium,” and;
- Disclose that the product may not have the same attributes or properties as traditional platinum products.
Marketers need not make the second disclosure if they have competent and reliable scientific evidence that a product is materially the same as one containing
at least 850 parts per thousand pure platinum, based on a variety of attributes such as durability, luster, and hypoallergenicity.
Although requested by the JVC and others in the industry, the FTC declined to issue detailed guidance on products containing platinum plating or coatings.
The Commission based its decision on the lack of consumer perception studies in the record to support additional guidance on that issue.
As in the past, any item that contains less than 500 parts per thousand pure platinum may not be marked or described as “platinum.” Jewelry that has 850 parts per thousand pure platinum – meaning that it is 85% pure platinum and 15% other metals – may be referred to as “traditional platinum.” The other metals may include either Platinum Group Metals or non-precious base metals.
The use of the word “platinum,” without qualification, is also unchanged. If an item is marked or described as “platinum” without any qualification, it must have at least 950 parts per thousand pure platinum. For these products, it is not necessary to disclose the percentage or parts per thousand of platinum.
In recent years, some manufacturers have been using large percentages of base metals, such as copper and cobalt, in platinum jewelry products. To protect onsumers, the FTC revised the Guides in response to these industry changes.
The FTC issued two new publications regarding platinum, one for consumers and the second for the business community. These publications, titled respectively, Going Platinum: What to Look for When Buying Platinum Jewelry and Advertising Platinum Jewelry are available on the FTC website.