Local jewellery firm convicted of selling unhallmarked jewellery

TEK Jewellery Ltd trading as Lapis Gold pled guilty to selling unhallmarked gold jewellery at Inverness Sheriff Court this week and was fined £900.

Officers from Highland Council’s Trading Standards acted after a complaint was received by a member of the public and a test purchase was carried out at Lapis Gold in the Eastgate Centre, Inverness. Trading Standards were sold a £170 gold necklace described as 14 carat which was not hallmarked.

The company had previously received guidance from the Council regarding their obligations under the Hallmarking Act from Trading Standards, but had continued to sell jewellery which was unhallmarked and had therefore not been quality checked and stamped with an approved hallmark by the Assay Office.

Hallmarks are small markings stamped on all precious metals goods over a certain weight. The current UK hallmark has three compulsory marks – the makers mark, metal fineness mark, and the Assay Office Mark. A hallmark means that the article has been independently tested and guarantees that it conforms to one of the standards of purity e.g. 18 carat.

Gordon Robb Principal Trading Standards Officer said: “Hallmarking law has been in place as a fundamental consumer protection measure in the UK since the early 14th century, with the current Act appearing on the statute books in 1973. No one involved in the business of buying and selling precious metals can therefore have any excuse for not knowing the law and Highland Council Trading Standards will not tolerate traders who flout it. We will continue to work closely with the Assay Office in Edinburgh to help stamp out this type of crime.”

Scott Walter, the Assay Master at the Assay Office Scotland in Edinburgh said: “It is important that all retailers are aware that it is an offence under the 1973 Hallmarking Act to describe an article as being partly or wholly made of precious metal if it does not bare a hallmark. A hallmark can only be applied by an independent Assay Office. A mark applied by the manufacturer is not a hallmark. The UK Assay Offices will continue work closely with Trading Standards authorities to ensure that retail premises are inspected for compliance with the Hallmarking Act.”

4 Jan 2011