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Sunday, December 7, 2008

Errant goldsmiths told to toe the line

From the Straits Times

Jewellers' group takes steps to ensure purity of gold not misstated

Stung by the news that three of its members were selling gold jewellery that was less pure than claimed, the Singapore Jewellers Association is taking action.

For starters, association president Ho Nai Chuen said it has set up a hotline on 6533-4053 for the public to call if they require assistance in getting a refund from association members whose 24k or 22k gold does not meet fineness standards.

The initiative comes in reaction to a recent survey by the Consumers Association of Singapore (Case), which found that gold pieces from five jewellers failed the purity test.

Three of the jewellers - Chan Foon Jade & Jewellery, Boon Lay Goldsmiths & Jewellers and Teng Huat Jewellery - are members of the association.

The body, the only one for the jewellery trade which is worth over $1 billion, has 155 members with about 335 outlets across the island.

There are about 500 jewellery outlets in Singapore and Mr Ho estimated that 100 of them have a substantial gold jewellery inventory.

He also said that its disciplinary sub-committee is giving the three members a chance to look into their inventory to ascertain if there are any problems with their stock.

Members can be blacklisted or kicked out of the association for flouting the rules, although this has not been done before.

'We are counselling the three members involved and telling them to send large batches of their inventory to the Singapore Assay Office for strict testing,' said MrHo.

'We have also reminded them not to trust their suppliers blindly and to check their stock. It is most important that consumer confidence is kept intact,' he added.

The association is looking into getting a special X-ray device in its office that can give members an analysis of an item's gold content in minutes.

This will help jewellers overcome the backlog at the Singapore Assay Office, which is now testing every piece instead of just a sample of items sent to it, following Case's actions.

Said chief assayer Ng Siew Hua: 'I usually test a sample of three or four out of every hundred. Now I'm very careful to test every single piece.'

Association members that The Sunday Times spoke to pinned the problem of impure gold on their suppliers.

'I've had the same supplier for 30 years so I trust him like a friend...I'm now very scared, so I will get every piece that I can checked,' said Mr Wan Yu Shu, 59, owner of Chan Foon Jade & Jewellery.

Gold buyers such as housewife Luzviminda Vancapelle, 37, feel that the new moves are good for boosting consumer confidence.

She said: 'The new checks are a very good idea because I don't really check the jewellery myself.

'It's good that I can trust the association to check for me. I will look out for the sticker when I shop now.'

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