Quality Assurance and Legal Risk
Tuesday, November 29, 2016
Checking Products for Legal Compliance Should be a Part of Every Seller’s DNA
By Cecilia L. Gardner, President, CEO and General Counsel, Jewelers Vigilance Committee
No jeweler wants to lose the confidence of their customer. In fact, most jewelers (especially AGS jewelers) make the integrity of their practices an essential part of their company’s DNA—a value that is built into the ethos of everyday transactions and interactions. Instituting quality assurance and control programs ensure that the products you sell are compliant, and advertising to your customers that you engage in quality control and assurance is good for your own reputation.
More than that, engaging in quality control will serve to help protect you in cases where you may have sold a product (such as a lab-created diamond) as natural, relying upon the representation of your supplier.
Here’s the challenge: jewelers have special knowledge and expertise about the products they sell. Therefore, they are held to a higher standard for the representations they make. Since special knowledge of gems and jewelry is part of selling these products, the standard applied will hold jewelers liable for the representations they make.
If it turns out that a diamond sold is in fact laboratory created, then the jeweler will be held responsible for that deceptive representation. If a jeweler claims that the representation was made simply based on a warranty or representation of the supplier, the retailer will not be relieved of liability—the liability will be shared. Ignorance, in this case, is no excuse.
What can a jeweler do to help with these risks, especially in an age when more and more lab-created diamonds are in the marketplace, and when instances of undisclosed lab-created diamonds in parcels of diamonds have been reported? Quality assurance. Not on every piece, and not on every loose stone. But a robust program of quality control certainly helps to protect jewelers from claims of misrepresentation of products sold, since they can show efforts to avoid such misrepresentations.
JVC published a guide—Essential Guide to Quality Assurance and Control—to quality control based on legal compliance issues that are designed to assist jewelers while implementing these programs. It is easy, does not cost a lot to implement and is your best bet to position yourself to defend claims of misrepresentation.
Visit the JVC website, www.jvclegal.org, or click here to purchase a copy of the Essential Guide to Quality Assurance and Control to position yourself to avoid ugly lawsuits and enhance your reputation.
The American Gem Society has prepared a template letter you can customize and send to your suppliers, inquiring into their selling practices of synthetics and treated stones. To access the template, you may download the Word document template here.
For future reference, go to americangemsociety.org and log into the member section.
- On the home page of the member site, click on Member Templates.
- Download the template marked Retailer Letter to Supplier.
- You can retype the letter on your letterhead, or if you have PDF editing software, you can insert your logo.