The US Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) proposal to broaden the definition of the word "platinum" to include an alloy combining platinum with base metals has been shot down by a number of jewelry organizations who believe that the redefinition will only confuse jewelry buyers.
Mineweb reports that the agency proposed that the Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries allow the use of the word “platinum” to describe an alloy of at least 500 parts per thousand (ppt) platinum alloyed with base metals. The FTC Platinum Guide was last revised in 1997.
The FTC also suggests that the specification should include the product's full composition by name and the percentage of each metal used in a jewelry piece. If the product does not feature the same characteristics as platinum jewelry containing at least 850 ppt, this should also be divulged.
In a joint response, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC), Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA), Jewelers of America (JA) and the American Gem Society (AGS) urged that "the current Platinum Guide should be retained and clarified and a supplement added to address descriptions of platinum and non-PGM alloys." The organizations represent manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, precious metal suppliers and refiners, diamond dealers, colored gemstone dealers, and retailers.
The organizations claim that although they welcome new products to the marketplace that blend platinum with base metals, the use of the word "platinum” to describe alloys containing non-PGM "creates the risk of deception."
The organizations further asserted that recent studies reveal that "the reasonable consumer is unlikely to comprehend information about alloy content. Thus, the suggested disclosures are the equivalent of no disclosure at all. Further, the practical impediments required to make these disclosures means that the consumer will likely not receive the information. The result will be consumers who believe that they are buying high-content platinum products - and they are not."
The organizations have asked the FTC to ban the use of the word "platinum" for alloys containing both platinum and base metals.
President and CEO of Tanury Industries, Michael Akkaoui, which specializes in platinum plating, said that the industry lacks reliable standards to test and substantiate representations regarding the durability, luster, density, scratch and tarnish resistance, ability to resize and repair, and the hypoallergenicity of platinum attributes.
When the thickness of platinum plating is less than .125 micros, Akkaoui argued that the product should be described as "platinum flashed" or "platinum washed."