A Mansfield woman who pleaded guilty to advertising and selling jewellery, which she claimed were diamonds and platinum when they were not, has been fined £3000 at Nottingham Crown Court on the 10th January 2019. She was also ordered to pay £26,526 in confiscation, which is the financial benefit of her criminality.
Ka Man Lam, 27 of Padstow Close, received the fine for eight counts of unfair commercial practices and seven counts under the Hallmarking Act, involving the advertisement and sale of earrings and rings which had been misdescribed.
The jewellery was advertised on eBay through an online platform called Angel Diamonds. The products were described as high-quality diamonds, but were found to be cubic zirconia. They were also described as being platinum or having the mark PT 950, which would have been mistaken for the hallmark of platinum.
Nottinghamshire County Council Trading Standards received a complaint from the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) who believed that the online seller was falsely advertising jewellery. The NAJ had made a test purchase of a ring and a pair of earrings. Trading Standards worked with the Sheffield Assay Office and the Institute of Registered Valuers and determined that the jewellery was not platinum or contain diamonds.
In one example, a customer bought a ring for £118 that was described as a 2.5 carat, excellent cut, diamond solitaire engagement ring, marked with ‘platinum 950.’ When she received it, the customer realised it was not platinum or a diamond.
Other consumers had similar experiences where the items have been described as a specified diamond and platinum product. Some of the consumers suspected that the stone might not be a diamond due to the prices advertised, but they believed that the metal was platinum.
Coun John Handley, Vice-Chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s Communities and Place Committee said:
“This is a case where products advertised for sale were not as described, which mislead customers into buying these products. Selling items online was said to be a means of keeping prices down, whereas in reality it meant that people could not physically check items before buying them. Our advice would always be if an item is advertised for sale that seems too good to be true, it usually is.”
Simon Forrester, Chief Executive at the National Association of Jewellers said of the case: “We are very pleased to see this sentence being passed down. Consumers must be protected from unscrupulous operators, which is why the NAJ has worked closely with Trading Standards to gather evidence and bring this prosecution. The National Association of Jewellers is the Primary Authority for UK jewellery sales, maintaining confidence in jewellery bought via NAJ Members. We will continue to champion consumers’ rights alongside our colleagues in Local Authority Trading Standards enforcement.”
Ashley Carson, Sheffield Assay Master said: “I am delighted with this outcome, congratulations to Nottinghamshire Trading Standards. This conviction sends a serious warning out to traders on the internet who are breaking the law and selling articles falsely described and not hallmarked. It also must act as a lesson for purchasers to always ensure that the articles are correctly Hallmarked. This is a legal requirement and protects the consumer. I would also ask again for eBay to take some responsibility for this and ensure that items sold on their website are legally compliant and point customers to the Dealers Notice to advise on Hallmarks.”
To report a consumer issue, people are advised to contact the Citizens Advice Consumer helpline on 03454 040506.