Digital hallmarks introduced for online jewellers
The hallmark, the oldest form of consumer protection, has gone digital as part of a new scheme to protect consumers from rogue traders and scam websites selling fake or counterfeit branded jewellery online.
The launch of Assay Assured by the Edinburgh Assay Office means that online jewellery retailers will be able to prove that they are accredited and adhering to a strict code of conduct centred around compliance with the Hallmarking Act.
The EAO said the online sale of fake and counterfeit jewellery has risen sharply over the last five years and that shoppers are far more likely to buy from sites they know and trust rather than small independent sites or auction sites.
Scott Walter, CEO of EAO explained: "UK Hallmarks have provided consumer protection for hundreds of years by guaranteeing the precious metal content in a piece of jewellery. Today online shoppers have no way of checking whether a piece of jewellery is hallmarked or not. Assay Assured is a digital solution to an ancient problem and we believe it will provide the protection consumers look for online. The issue of fake and counterfeit jewellery online is plaguing the industry and honest retailers are suffering because online sales often circumvent existing regulation and consumer protection."
The Assay Assured scheme will be underpinned by a strict code of conduct for online jewellery sales, in compliance with the Hallmarking Act and will also cover the sale of counterfeit branded jewellery. Before accrediting a site Assay Assured will first carry out an audit of the online retailer who will only be allowed to sign up if they meet the requirements.
The agreement will authorise the retailer to carry the Assay Assured jewellery retailer logo on their website. The logo will link directly to a unique secure certificate, which will confirm their authenticity as an Assay Assured retailer. Within the certificate the consumer will be able to link to a consumer focused landing page giving details about the scheme and UK hallmarking.
Although consumers will, in the first instance, be encouraged to report any queries relating to the code of conduct to the retailer, the certificate and the landing page will also allow consumers to report a query to Assay Assured about a product, should they fail to resolve their issue with the retailer.
In addition, Assay Assurance will provide an independent arbitration service for retailers and consumers if a product is suspected of being in breach of the code, if the dispute cannot first be resolved between the retailer and the consumer.
Retailers will pay an annual fee for the administration of the scheme dependent on the estimated average number of monthly online transactions.
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