Caithness trader pleads guilty to selling misdescribed jewellery

May Dixon a resident of Caithness plead guilty at Wick Sheriff Court on Friday 11 December 2015 and was ordered to carry out 72 hours of unpaid work as part of a Community Payback Order.

Highland Council Trading Standards reported Dixon to the Procurator Fiscal in Wick for advertising and selling jewellery on eBay which was described as being made of silver when the jewellery was in fact made of base metals. Base metals are widely used in commercial and industrial applications. They are more abundant in nature and therefore far cheaper than precious metals such as gold, silver and platinum. Base metals include aluminium, copper, lead, nickel, tin and zinc.

Dixon was also found to be selling ‘fake’ Tiffany jewellery which consisted of necklaces, rings, bangles and earrings displayed in Tiffany green boxes. Since 1837, Tiffany & Co. has been one of the world's premier jewellers. Authentic Tiffany & Co merchandise is only available through genuine Tiffany stores, their website or authorised direct sales. Tiffany & Co do not sell seconds or damaged goods to individuals for resale nor licence individuals to use or apply the Tiffany & Co trademarks. The "Tiffany" items seized were ordered to be forfeited.

Highland Council initially received a complaint that a consumer had purchased a bracelet from an eBay trader ‘Mays Sparkles’ for £25. The bracelet had been described as “sterling silver and hallmarked”. When the bracelet arrived it wasn’t hallmarked and the consumer suspected it might not be silver. She complained to ‘Mays Sparkles’ and asked for a refund but did not receive a response, therefore complained to Trading Standards.

Trading Standards carried out their own test purchase of two bangles sold by May Dixon. The first bangle was described as “Absolutely gorgeous 925 hallmarked silver designer classic cuff bangle”. The second bangle was described as “fabulous 925 Sterling Silver ladies classic oval designer bangle”. On examination of the bangles there was ‘925’ stamped on the inside of each of the bangles but no Assay Office approved hallmark. The bangles were sent to the Edinburgh Assay Office for testing and found to be a base metal alloy with a thin plating of silver of less than 0.5 microns thickness.

Gordon Robb Trading Standards Manager said: “This case has shown that if something appears too good to be true then it normally is. If you are looking to buy something from the internet, you have to take into account where the items are coming from and how much you are paying for them. The supply of counterfeit goods not only affects the livelihoods of the people who are involved in the manufacturer of the genuine items but also the local businesses who sell them and the innocent consumers who are duped into buying them.”

Anyone with suspicions about websites selling these counterfeit or misdescribed goods or have purchased such items should contact Highland Council Trading Standards on 01463 228700.

16 Dec 2015