Congress passes the National Gold & Silver Marking Act (later generally referred to as the National Stamping Act). The act requires jewelry makers to mark their gold and silver articles stating the amount of precious metal in them. JVC will be very active in future amendments to the act to give it greater muscle and relevance for the industry.
The Good and Welfare Committee of the National Jewelers Board of Trade, begins a campaign to uphold the recently enacted stamping laws, and works to have the act strengthened by amendment. Its activist chairman is Harry C. Larter, who later becomes first chairman of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee when it is incorporated in 1917, a position he’ll hold until his death in 1932. Larter was a jewelry manufacturer and owner of Larter & Sons, a firm that closed its door in 2015, after 150 years in business.
The Good and Welfare Committee was the informal precursor of JVC, according to Gustav Niemeyer of Handy & Harman, the pre-eminent silver supplier to the trade at that time, and a fellow activist with Larter for fair business dealings. Niemeyer recalled at a JVC annual meeting in 1949 that it wasn’t easy at first, to push for strengthening the Stamping Act. “Certain elements in the industry,” he said, wanted to squelch efforts to strengthen the law against companies who mismarked silver and gold jewelry. Led by Larter and Niemeyer, however, the JVC would eventually overcome those voices.
While the Good and Welfare Committee fought for fair disclosure of gold and silver content, another group, the American Jewelers Protection Association, was founded the same year to combat international diamond smuggling – a common practice by companies and individuals in the first half of the century. In 1945, it would merge with the JVC.
The Federal Trade Commission is created to foster honest business practices and robust competition in the marketplace, to protect consumers.
FTC officials meet with Larter and his Good and Welfare Committee.
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee holds its first official meeting on the afternoon of March 23 in the rooms of the Twenty-Four Karat Club of the City of New York, in the Silversmiths Building at 15 Maiden Lane (a building that still exists today). Harry Larter is named its first chairman. Just one month later, the U.S. enters World War I. A month after that, in an effort to raise war funds, Congress starts hearings on the War Revenue Act. The act will include a proposed excise tax on jewelry of 5%. Quickly forming the Jewelers War Revenue Tax Committee, JVC goes to work and successfully persuades legislators to reduce the jewelry tax to 3%, though it is raised to 5% in 1918.
JVC meeting discussions center on the need for tighter controls on the marking of platinum jewelry, which had not been included in the National Stamping Act.
A busy year for JVC. Among the topics debated at its regular committee meetings: the need for tighter tolerances in the marking of karat gold and the endorsement of a proposed New York State law making the minimum purity for platinum 925 /1,000 (the existing standard was 750/1,000). The bill passes in 1921.
JVC makes a direct appeal to President Woodrow Wilson on Dec. 24 to end the “punitive and unfair” excise tax on jewelry. The wartime tax, scheduled to lapse within a year of the end of hostilities in 1918, stays in place – and won’t be repealed until 1926.
JVC continues a long crusade against fraudulent and misleading advertising of jewelry store products. It also debates how to improve the use of nomenclature in the presentation and sale of colored stones.
Much of the JVC effort during this period is devoted to discussion of how to win amendments to the National Stamping Act. Earlier, in 1919, Harry Larter identified such action as the committee’s No. 1 goal when he outlined JVC’s “plans for the future.” Among other top goals: work out plans for the adoption of the metric system in weighing precious metals used in jewelry and formulate and inaugurate a national standard ring gauge.
Harry Larter dies. Niemeyer succeeds him and will continue in various roles with JVC until his death in 1967. In the depths of the Great Depression, Congress once again imposes a luxury tax on jewelry of 10%, despite JVC efforts to lobby against it. With JVC’s continued efforts, the tax is repealed in 1936.
JVC hits a low point, like the rest of the country. Its financial assets dwindle to just over $200, and at two consecutive executive committee meetings, on Feb. 5 and March 18, its members seriously debate disbanding. In each case, the decision is to continue in existence. The committee also decides to launch a fundraising drive. Efforts continue in the naming and shaming of companies that sell jewelry deceptively. In one investigation, JVC exposes companies selling stainless-steel items as 14k or 18k “white gold.”
JVC Chairman Niemeyer reports 20 “active” cases at the November meeting. They include action against the Mexican Gem Importing Co. for passing off imitation diamonds for the real thing (ceased); against a Providence, RI, firm selling bracelets stamped “sterling” (testing shows the metal is not sterling); turning over to immigration authorities a man preparing to sell “gold” merchandise; turning in to authorities a company selling diamonds “below market for cash.”
JVC continues its active role as adviser on correct industry practice, with close to 100 cases. One, for example, involves a leading New York department store advertising “simulated gold” charms, which is misleading, JVC informs the store. In reply, the store says the gold plating is so thin it hesitates to call the items gold-plated and asks what it should do. JVC suggests using the terms “gold wash” or “gold flash,” and the store does so. Members of JVC’s executive committee worry that so much of the agency’s work is confidential, neither the industry nor consumers fully appreciate it. Plans are made to publicize JVC’s work more forcefully. It will be the first of many efforts in this direction.
JVC cooperates with the National Wholesale Jewelers Association to control and expose a flood of mismarked goods. NWJA buys and sends 22k gold items to JVC for assay: 13 are judged okay, but nine are underkarated. As World War II looms for Americans, Congress once again imposes a 10% excise tax on jewelry. Without the efforts of the JVC, however, the tax would have been 15%. It galvanizes a letter writing campaign by jewelers that resulted in 30,000 telegrams and letters to Congress, and the 15% proposal goes away.
JVC takes the industry lead in dealing with the many federal agencies directing the war effort, among them the Office of Price Administration and the War Production Board. Price controls on diamonds are a hot issue, with confusion about which sizes and qualities will be affected. JVC creates its own Jewelers War Production Committee, which works with the government to determine how the industry can help the war effort and which firms are most qualified. It also appoints special committees to deal with wartime issues affecting karat gold, silver, platinum, precious stones, and salvage.
Congress raises the jewelry excise tax to 20%, which jewelers accept, because wartime prosperity had finally ended the industry’s long depression. Congress promises that the extra levy will be removed at the end of the war – but in the end, the tax isn’t dialed back to 10% until 1954, after much lobbying by JVC and its partners.
Meanwhile, JVC continues its bread-and-butter work. In 1942, its activities are divided about equally between handling cases of false advertising and mismarking of merchandise. In that year it closes 71 cases as follows: by direct negotiation, 29; complaint unwarranted, 24; criminal conviction, 11; referred to other agencies, 3; FTC action, 2; and 2 dismissed or acquitted. In 1944 JVC begins work with Better Business Bureaus nationally to help pinpoint and stop misleading advertising of jewelry products.
Four critical actions mark JVC’s present and future in the year that World War II finally ends.
It starts the year by hiring its first permanent executive, P. Irving Grinberg, and acquiring office space at 82 Fulton St. in New York. Grinberg, who comes from the cultured pearl industry and served with the War Production Board, is named executive vice president and general counsel.
It acquires control of the American Jewelers Protection Association to fight against diamond smuggling, and forms its own Protection Bureau committee.
It holds the first meeting of a new Jewelry Industry Tax Committee (JITC), a body that eventually will play a key role in the removal of the hated federal jewelry excise taxes some 20 years later.
It revises its bylaws. The preamble states (among other goals) that JVC’s purposes are “to foster trade and commerce in the jewelry industry and the business interests of manufacturers, importers, wholesalers, and retailers engaged therein; to secure freedom from unjust and unlawful exactions; to diffuse accurate and reliable information pertinent to trade activities; to procure uniformity and certainty in the customs and usages of trade and commerce and of those having a common interest in the jewelry trade; to settle and adjust differences between members of the industry and to promote a more enlarged and friendly intercourse among them.”
Regular work policing the industry’s bad apples continues, with a stress on rooting out phony jewelry advertising and other forms of misrepresentation about the industry and its products. But a huge amount of time is spent on winning relief from the 20% excise tax. To help its cause, JVC’s Jewelry Industry Tax Committee teams up with the cosmetics, luggage, and fur industries. As time passes with no tangible results, industry criticism of JVC’s tax efforts grows. But by 1949, an industry victory seems in sight when the House votes to repeal the tax. Before the Senate can act, the Korean War starts. Once more, tax relief has to go on the back burner.
FTC, after years of work with JVC, enacts new, expanded Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries. Their purpose: to protect the industry and public from “unfair methods of competition, unfair deceptive acts or practices, and other trade abuses.” This document becomes the ethical base for all industry practice.
At JVC’s urging, FTC revises its jewelry guides to make them more responsive to industry needs.
JVC finally scores a legislative victory in fighting to add teeth to the National Stamping Act. After years of urging, Congress amends the act to require that manufacturers who put a quality mark on a precious metal item also add their trademark.
The revitalized Jewelry Industry Tax Committee is back in business, with a vengeance. It’s now headed by Robert Krementz (who will become JVC president in 1970); he teams up with Victor Paul, chairman of Retail Jewelers of America, to wage a new and final war on the luxury tax. JVC and RJA commission an economic report by Harley Hinrichs, a University of Maryland professor, to show how counterproductive the tax has become. At last Congress is persuaded. President Lyndon Johnson signs the bill repealing the retail excise tax in 1965.
After almost 20 years of service, Irving Grinberg retires. John Benton, who has spent the previous five years as an attorney for FTC, succeeds him.
Gus Niemeyer dies at 84, ending a remarkable industry career. He headed Handy & Harman for many years. In addition to his dedication to JVC, he held top offices with the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, the Jewelry Industry Council (now a part of Jewelers of America), and the Twenty-Four Karat Club of the City of New York.
JVC starts sending gold merchandise to the Birmingham Assay Office in England for testing.
John Benton resigns. Sheldon Hicks, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former public relations director for the Retired Officers Association, replaces him as executive vice president. Joel Windman, an assistant district attorney in the State of New York’s Anti-Monopolies Bureau, is hired as general counsel.
The National Stamping Act is amended again, at JVC’s urging, allowing consumers, competitors, and trade associations to take violators to court. JVC radically increases the number of cases it handles. Between 1912 and 1969 it took on nearly 500 cases. In the next 17 years, it will take on more than 5,000. To uncover misrepresentation, JVC launches a series of shopping trips. The committee starts a campaign to eliminate phony pricing in catalog showroom price advertising, a mission that takes much of its efforts over the next two to three years. JVC also, for the first time, becomes seriously interested in misleading and inaccurate jewelry appraisals.
Joel Windman succeeds Sheldon Hicks as JVC executive vice president. William S. Preston Jr. is the first retailer to become JVC president. Five years later he becomes chairman of a committee charged with revising the FTC Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries. His dedication to this mammoth task brings a JVCinspired focus to the industry’s ethical behavior and reshapes the way that many firms, both retailers and manufacturers, go about their daily business.
Congress, at JVC’s urging, adopts its third amendment to the National Stamping Act, tightening allowable tolerances in precious metal marking of fineness.
Working closely with Windman, Preston begins work on revision of the Guides, launching a campaign that will not be completed until 1996, when FTC finally issues a revised edition. Various industry leaders challenge the revised guides almost immediately.
JVC sends its first proposed revision of the Guides to FTC in January. By early fall it sends the first of a series of proposed amendments, two of which – the issues of disclosing lasering to diamonds to improve their quality and a tight definition of diamond total weight – become the center of continuing controversy. To defuse criticism of the lasering proposal, Preston suggests that disclosure apply only to diamonds of .20 ct. or more. On total weight, he insists on a tolerance of .005 ct. (or half a point). Later, JVC changes its position on total weight goods, proposing that each piece be marked with the minimum total weight of the diamonds. Manufacturers turn thumbs down on all these proposals, arguing that lasering is merely part of the normal cutting process and that it’s impractical for mass producers of diamond jewelry to record exact weight of the stones used without adding significantly to the cost.
JVC forms a monitoring committee to “assure compliance” with various laws affecting the jewelry trade. Its first goal is to check for violations of the National Stamping Act. Within months (early in 1983), it announces that 20% of the gold jewelry it buys and samples falls below legal tolerances on gold content. It receives written assurances from half of the offending manufacturers that they’ll discontinue the practice. The committee also reports that it is offering an assay service.
The first board meeting ever to be held west of the Mississippi is called to order in Los Angeles. Says Windman: “The JVC has always been a national organization, but this odyssey west makes us feel it more strongly.” He’s less bullish about another association odyssey – the drive to win FTC support to wipe out deceptive pricing. “This is a dormant, festering issue affecting all jewelers north, east, south, and west,” he declares. “We need the cooperation of the FTC to issue and enforce new guidelines against deceptive pricing once and for all.” An FTC official at the meeting indicates any action is unlikely, arguing that discounted prices benefit the consumer. Some of JVC’s chain store members discourage any action on retail pricing.
Undeterred by the federal rebuff, JVC decides at its annual membership meeting to take its fight against deceptive pricing to state and local governments. Howard Michaels, a former JVC president, condemns “the proliferation of phony pricing” and charges that FTC just can’t cope.
Somewhat belatedly, the JVC’s gem investment committee reports that it’s sending revised guidelines for ethical behavior in this business to FTC. (Most gem investment scams, which started with the huge spike in diamond and gold prices in the late 1970s, died off with the collapse of diamond prices in 1981.) A key proposal by the committee: “Consumers should assure themselves, before buying a gemstone for investment, that the seller is registered with the Securities & Exchange Commission as well as with the various attorneys general of states that require registration.”
JVC begins a four-year battle to deny the Ullenberg Corp. the right to register the phrase “Forever Yours, DeBeers Dia. Ltd.” as its exclusive trademark. JVC argues that the slogan will confuse its members and other jewelers, prompting them to believe that De Beers Consolidated Mines and its famous slogan, ”A Diamond Is Forever,” are connected to Ullenberg.
Along the way, the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeal Board rejects JVC’s role, arguing that it has no legal standing. But the U.S. Court of Appeals says JVC indeed has a right to proceed, and it orders Ullenberg to stop using the De Beers name. Windman exults that the landmark ruling means that trade groups, companies, and even individuals can fight questionable trademarks, even without a financial interest in the case. The ruling, he adds, “shows JVC has the power to protect the jewelry trade and public from misrepresentation.”
JVC sends its “final” recommendations for revisions in Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries to the FTC. The federal agency indicates that they will be published in the Federal Register for comment, probably early in 1987. It will actually be 10 years until the revisions are finalized.
JVC decides to seek wider publicity for its activities, launching its “Action of the Month” bulletins. These will cite violations of good business practices and list the names of those who refuse to obey the law.
Jewelers of America, which at the time operates the major national jewelry trade shows in the U.S. says all exhibitors at its shows must abide by federal regulations governing jewelry – or face expulsion. Under the new policy, JVC will monitor compliance and handle complaints of alleged violations. The then-active Pacific Jewelry Shows soon sign up for similar protection. JVC opens its first West Coast office, in Los Angeles.
JVC, with JA’s encouragement, also starts work with the Better Business Bureau in a pilot program in Toledo, OH. The goal is to monitor local jewelry sales and develop a method for arbitration of consumer complaints.
The fight against false pricing picks up steam. Barrie Birks, head of JVC’s truth-in pricing (TIP) committee, tells the annual meeting that JVC will file friend-of-the-court briefs in support of government agencies and others who bring action against those who practice deceptive pricing. The “truth movement,” in association with JA, spreads rapidly, with 23 of JA’s then 43 state affiliates forming their own TIP committees.
JVC locks horns with Harry Winston Inc., over a new advertising slogan Winston wants to copyright: “A Diamond Is for Always.” JVC argues before the U.S. Trademark Trial and Appeals Board that jewelers and consumers will confuse the slogan with De Beers’ long-established ”A Diamond Is Forever,” giving Winston an “unfair competitive advantage.” Under pressure, Winston eventually backs off.
JVC revisits the appraisal issue, taking a major stand to rid the industry of false, misleading, or uninformed jewelry appraisals. In a months-long effort, JVC’s Appraisal Task Force, headed by respected Kansas City jeweler Harold Tivol, draws opinions from all sides of the industry, then recommends “minimum guidelines for insurance cost estimate documentation for jewelers.”
Larry Phillips, a noted jewelry appraiser and member of the task force, comments: “The guidelines represent a sincere effort to bring good information to an industry in sore need of it. They are neither perfect nor set in stone. They are neither a law nor a panacea. They were never intended to shield jewelers from liability resulting from their own representations or misrepresentations.” The recommendations are attacked by a number of professional appraisers, but the consensus is that for the first time they give jewelers fair and workable guidelines.
At long last, FTC issues new, revised Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries. Among the changes from earlier editions: FTC excludes lasering of a diamond from the list of treatments that always should be disclosed to consumers; rejects JVC’s proposal to mark total-weight pieces with a minimum total diamond weight, allowing sellers to quote a product in fractional carat terms but insisting that the seller accompany the quote with a weight range used for the fraction (i.e. one-fifth can be between .18 and .22 ct); and indicates it’s not an unfair trade practice not to disclose gemstone treatments if the treatment is permanent and does not call for special care.
In Project Mall, JVC uses private investigators to buy hundreds of pieces of 10k gold jewelry at more than 100 stores and kiosks in 74 malls in 13 states. London’s Goldsmiths Hall determines that most is underkarated; many don’t carry trademarks. Following JVC warnings, further research finds about 80% of the guilty stores now comply with the law. At least five major manufacturers of jewelry, all based in the United States, are implicated based on information from the retailers.
Joel Windman and JVC’s assistant executive director, Rachel Kaufman, resign and form their own consulting firm. Michael D. Roman, former chairman and chief executive of Jewelers of America, is named interim executive vice president. A search committee seeks a new top officer, and in June 1998, Cecilia L. Gardner is named as the new executive director and general counsel. She has served as a special attorney with the U.S. Department of Justice Organized Crime and Racketeering Section and as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Eastern District of New York. In 2005, Gardner will be given the titles of president and CEO, in addition to general counsel.
JVC conducts a two day “retreat” in New York City. Its goal: “To achieve an open discussion of core issues confronting the JVC, both substantive and internal, identify obstacles and opportunities for the JVC, and, ultimately, set plans of action in the identified areas of concern.” A high-level group of industry leaders debates six topics: industry codes of ethics and standards; membership; disclosure; international trademark registry; legal activities; and deceptive pricing. There’s general agreement to take follow-up action on all issues except deceptive pricing.
JVC’s clarifies and defines its alternative dispute resolution program, detailing what disputes it will mediate, how the process works, and what rights of appeal the parties have. The disputes covered include: Violating industry codes or ethics and standards; misrepresenting karats and carats, misrepresenting color, clarity, weight or synthetic material; not disclosing as required by the FTC Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries; other violations of the FTC Guides, including tolerances; deceptive advertising, and pricing.
JVC petitions FTC to amend its recently-promulgated Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries to require the disclosure of diamond lasering. Gardner offers three principal supporting arguments: (1) the diamond industry, which earlier strongly opposed disclosure, now supports it; (2) human intervention with a natural product requires disclosure; and (3) failure to disclose human intervention can lead to unfair pricing because of the difference in value between lasered and nonlasered diamonds.
In response to the Gardner petition, the FTC publishes in the Federal Register proposals for two changes in the Guides and invites public comment. One call is for comment on the lasering issue. The second picks up on the “change in value” concept, following gemstone treatment, and takes a new look at permanent treatments that call for no special care. Under the existing Guides, such treatments need not be disclosed. Now, FTC proposes adding this consideration: “Permanent treatments that do not create special care requirements should be disclosed if the treatment has a significant effect on the stone’s value and if a consumer, acting reasonably under the circumstances, could not ascertain that the stone has been treated.”
JVC also launches an initiative to go after manufacturers and retailers who violate the U.S. Gold and Silver Stamping Act. The organization purchases an X-ray assaying machine that can judge karat fineness without destroying the jewelry (older fire-assaying methods did destroy the jewelry).
The Jewelers Vigilance Committee publishes a 41-page book titled Legal Compliance in Plain English. Subtitled “A straightforward, easy-to-understand guide for jewelry professionals,” the book explains in plain language the laws and regulations governing the manufacture, sale, and advertising of jewelry. The book covers such federal laws as the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act, the Lanham Act (the statutory basis for the FTC Guides) and federal trademark and customs laws. Gardner recommends the book be used in conjunction with the JVC Legal Reference booklet, which includes the entire text of the statutes, laws and regulations covered in the new book. She stresses the importance of also familiarizing yourself with local consumer laws.
JVC’s board agrees to enable Cecilia Gardner to serve as general counsel to the World Diamond Council, a new group working with industry, nations, and non-governmental organizations in combating the problem of conflict diamonds. Over the years of Gardner’s service, she will travel the world and attend hundreds of meetings, working within the Kimberley Process and the System of Warranties. JVC will also develop guides and training programs to assist the industry in complying with these measures. Gardner also becomes general counsel for the United States Kimberley Process Authority (USKPA), created after passage of the Clean Diamond Trade Act, which implements the provisions of the Kimberley Process.
JVC debuts a not-for-profit organization for appraisers and users of appraisal professionals, called J-BAR (Jewelers Board of Appraisal Review). The organization, a wholly owned subsidiary of JVC, is not meant to compete with existing appraisal organizations. Instead, it is to serve as an impartial umbrella organization that can provide a forum to resolve disputes and support other appraisal groups. It also will articulate minimum standards and provide education. “We will help the untrained understand they need education to be appraisers and that they are taking on a potential liability when they write appraisals,” says Gardner. In 2003, JVC issued Jewelry Appraisal Basics, a home-study course for jewelers.
The FTC votes to amend its Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries to require disclosure of gem treatments that significantly affect value, a request that JVC made in 1998. JVC pledged to work with the FTC to identify gem treatments that significantly affect value, are non-permanent or require special care.
JVC also institutes new membership standards. Members are required to sign a new document titled Membership Standards and Compliance Practices. After signing, they receive a framed certificate to feature in their stores and are allowed to use the JVC logo. “The JVC logo is a recognized symbol of integrity and trust,” says Gardner. “Displaying it provides tremendous benefit to our members in building credibility with their customers.”
The standards for membership say JVC members must: Make reasonable efforts to educate self and staff about applicable current legal requirements; comply with all laws and regulations applicable to the jewelry industry; make accurate representations about the products they buy and sell; communicate to business partners their commitment to compliance with the law; and resolve all customer complaints promptly and fairly.
JVC publishes the Retailer’s Legal Handbook. The handbook is divided into four sections, with subcategories for store policies, conducting business, employment issues, and resources for legal help and appraisal information.
JVC also works with government agencies in New York and New Jersey to investigate the underkarating of gold jewelry. The agencies used JVC’s precious metals testing laboratory to assay items bought from retailers. A majority of the jewelry tested does not meet karat gold standards.
In the wake of the terrorist attacks of 2001, several important U.S. retailers suspend the purchase of tanzanite, following press reports linking the gem to the Al-Qaeda terrorist network. JVC, along with other trade groups and the government and miners of Tanzania, develop the Tucson Tanzanite Protocol, which like the Kimberley Process, works to ensure that the tanzanite supply chain is protected from manipulation by bad actors. Designed to increase transparency and accountability in the tanzanite trade, the protocol leads to Gardner visiting Tanzania with a delegation that meets with the government and miners, and negotiates buy-in with all relevant stakeholders. JVC then works to implement the system.
JVC becomes involved in speaking with government and monitoring proposed anti-money laundering provisions of the USA Patriot Act, passed after the terrorist attacks of 2001. The government determines that the jewelry industry must comply with them. JVC develops a USA Patriot Act Compliance Kit as soon as the regulations are made final. The kit provides templates of a typical program, employee training information, a testing methodology to use, form letters to send to business contacts, and a copy of the final rules.
The Federal Trade Commission agrees to JVC’s request to seek comment concerning how jewelry with a lower-than-usual platinum content should be marked and whether an amendment to the Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries is warranted.
JVC also announces the results of a four-month undercover market study to check on the accuracy of diamond jewelry carat claims. Sixty-seven percent of diamond jewelry it bought and tested is undercarated. JVC conducts the study to gauge the extent of undercarating – especially in small pieces with multiple diamonds – and to reinforce the need for retailers to monitor their inventories for quality assurance and to test their suppliers.
JVC launches a new membership benefit program called, Web Site Compliance Check to evaluate JVC members’ websites for legal compliance. JVC says the feature will help members produce online advertising and marketing campaigns that are in full compliance with the laws, rules, and regulations that apply to catalog sales and brick-and-mortar stores. It is free of charge to all JVC members.
JVC warns industry that the blue topaz they’re selling may not be in compliance with Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations. JVC says in a statement that, while the topazes pose no apparent health risk, they were not tested in NRC-licensed facilities, an action required by the Energy Policy Act of 2005. JVC tells retailers they may want to consider “alternatives, including but not limited to removing the product from their selling inventory stock.” Later, JVC issues the Essential Guide to the U.S. Trade in Irradiated Gemstones, along with the American Gem Trade Association, with information on NRC regulations.
JVC and the Natural Color Diamond Association (NCDIA) release The Essential Guide to the U.S. Trade in Color Diamonds. The Guide is developed in response to inquiries from the jewelry industry about the laws governing the manufacture, sale, and marketing of colored diamonds. It discusses the geology of natural color diamonds, defines natural, synthetic, and simulated diamonds, and the treatments used to alter the color of diamonds.
JVC launches a “Forms Bank” on its web site, www.jvclegal.org. The bank, available on the site’s “members only” section, is a library of the specific government forms or language to use on a receipt, warranty, or certification. These forms include store receipts, take in forms, credit applications, cash transaction reports, and more.
JVC releases The Essential Guide to the U.S. Trade in Gold and Silver Jewelry. The guide is developed to provide the trade with a clear explanation of the legal standards that govern the manufacture, sale, and advertising of gold and silver industry products.
With the industry in the grip of the Great Recession, JVC and the Jewelers Board of Trade issue The Essential Guide to ‘Memo’ Transactions. It includes information on: Consignment agreements and protecting one’s business in an event of bankruptcy; frequently asked questions; a glossary of terms, and a step-by-step method for jewelry industry players to best position their businesses in cases of economic reversals.
JVC also releases The Essential Guide to Advertising Law, a comprehensive overview of the regulations pertaining to the advertising of fine jewelry. The volume includes basic rules; FTC Guidelines; price advertising; advertising on the Internet; green, fair trade, and ethical conduct claims; and liability and enforcement.
JVC also releases a Red Flags Rule Compliance Kit, to help jewelers comply with the government’s Red Flags Rule, which requires businesses that extend credit (to consumers or to other businesses) to implement a written identity theft prevention program. The goal of such a program is to prevent thieves from stealing identity information for fraudulent purposes and to detect and prevent efforts to steal identity data in order to perpetrate identity theft. The kit includes easy-to-use forms, templates, and guidance on a CD and step-by-step templates covering a variety of topics.
FTC revises its Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries to help ensure that consumers are not deceived when buying platinum products and that marketers understand how certain new platinum/metal alloys – products made of a combination of platinum and non-precious “base” metals – should be described and advertised. To help clarify these revised standards, JVC releases The Essential Guide to the U.S. Trade in Platinum Jewelry. The guide includes legal standards for platinum, a glossary of terms, two platinum tolerance charts, and a frequently asked questions section.
Congress votes into law the U.S. Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, which addresses “conflict minerals” identified as tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold in Section 1502 of the act. Pursuant to Dodd Frank, companies that are listed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), and that use these minerals will have to provide specific information to the public concerning the minerals. Once the SEC provides guidance on enactment, JVC releases its Essential Guide to Conflict Minerals and the Dodd Frank Act. It details the impact of Dodd Frank on non-SEC listed businesses , suggestions on practical steps supplies can take to meet the needs of their customers that must file reports with the SEC (or their customers that in turn supply SEC reporting companies), and examples to illustrate these steps.
Later, JVC will also release a Supply Chain Assurance Kit to help companies in the direct or indirect supply chain of SEC-listed companies to create a supply chain assurance system. Forms to use for this purpose are also available in JCV’s kit.
The FTC announces plans to revise the widely used and consulted Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries, its first major overhaul since 1996. Work begins in earnest in 2012. JVC coordinates a joint submission on behalf of the industry, though it also encourages industry members to also contact FTC directly with their concerns. JVC later collects comments from industry on the topics the FTC focuses on, including disclosures on lead-glass-filled rubies, the term “cultured diamonds,” pearl treatment disclosure, platinum alloys, and standards for precious metals plating.
JVC releases a Jewelers Employment Manual (JEM), which details information on complying with basic laws that govern the workplace, from wage and hour regulations to anti-discrimination requirements. It also explains how clear communication is necessary to employees, so that they understand a company’s policies and expectations, and feel they have a place to be heard if they have complaints.
At the request of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, JVC creates JVC’S Central Bank of Descriptive and Generic Terms for the jewelry industry. These are terms that should not be approved for trademark protection without a disclaimer. JVC develops its central bank to help educate trademark examiners who review trademark applications, but makes its list available to the industry, too.
JVC releases The Essential Guide to the U.S. Trade in Materials from Plant and Wildlife Products. The Guide includes information that jewelry manufacturers must be familiar with and follow, including: Important laws governing the trade in protected species; USFWS import/export license and filing declarations; exemptions for jewelry retailers and collectors; obtaining permits and filing declarations; penalties and fines; state laws regarding endangered species.
JVC releases its Guide to Selling Jewelry in the 21st Century: Legal Compliance for Designers, Independent Jewelers and Online Sellers. This handbook is intended for the independent designer and those who market their wares on websites such as Etsy, eBay, Amazon, Craiglist, and other online marketplaces. The guide includes information on basic legal principles, such as the importance of contracts, receipts, and return policies; as well as general rules on the advertising of jewelry (including the provisions of the FTC jewelry and internet guides and the National Gold and Silver Stamping Act). It also explains how to implement anti-money laundering laws that apply to many jewelry sellers.
JVC releases its I’ve Got an Idea! JVC’s Guide to Intellectual Property Law. It includes information on a variety of intellectual property topics, from protecting jewelry designs through copyright law; protecting brand names, slogans and logos through trademark law; and designs that can be protected through patent law. It also covers the steps for applying to register a trademark or copyright. “This guide will help everyone in the business of designing, manufacturing, distributing, and selling jewelry and jewelry supplies understand how to protect their valuable creations, but not infringe on the rights of others,” said Gardner.
JVC launches a series of webinars to help members of the industry avoid legal risk and implement compliant business practices, which continue into 2016. Seminars include updates on responsible sourcing, mediation, intellectual property law, FTC Guides revisions, employment law, and anti-money laundering regulations.
JVC releases A Guide to Quality Assurance and Control. The guide provides “simple and useable” tools to implement quality-assurance programs. It aims to increases awareness of elements that jewelers should address to assure they are following the required standards. “All sellers at every level down to the retailer are responsible for the products they sell,” says Gardner. “Engaging in quality-assurance programs protects the seller from the risk of selling non-compliantly. Informing your customers you have quality assurance programs lifts your reputation for integrity and ethical business practices.”
After the FTC issues proposed revisions to its Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metal and Pewter Industries. JVC submits final comments in June 2016, on behalf of a wide coalition of jewelry industry trade groups and members of JVC. It requests changes in diamond nomenclature, precious metal applications, precious metal alloys which do not meet the existing minimum thresholds, composite gemstones, the proper use of the word “hand-made” and dyed pearls.
Cecilia Gardner announces that she will step down as president and CEO of the JVC at the beginning of 2017. The board begins a search for her successor.