Edinburgh Assay Office will launch the world’s first consumer online assurance scheme for jewellery – Assay Assured – today at Somerset House in London. Retailers already signed up to Assay Assured include: Links of London, Ortak, Monica Vinader and Clogau Gold. The hallmark is the oldest form of consumer protection and this announcement marks a significant moment in its history as the hallmark goes digital.
Over the last five years the online sale of fake jewellery has seen a sharp rise with scam sites and rogue traders on auction sites springing up faster than they can be closed down. As shoppers cannot inspect the goods they buy online Assay Assured aims to offer the consumer protection against the risk of buying unhallmarked as well as counterfeit branded jewellery.
While more and more people shop online, trust is still one of the biggest barriers to trade. Research by the Office of Fair Trading (OFT) has shown that shoppers are far more likely to shop from sites they know and trust rather than small independent sites or auction sites. It was the same lack of trust that first led to the introduction of hallmarking 700 years ago as a way to prove the precious metal content of an item.
Scott Walter, CEO of Edinburgh Assay Office explains: “It is not possible to detect by sight or by touch the precious metal content of an item. UK Hallmarks have provided consumer protection for hundreds of years by guaranteeing the precious metal content in a piece of jewellery. Today online shoppers have no way of checking whether a piece of jewellery is hallmarked or not. Assay Assured is a digital solution to an ancient problem and we believe it will provide the protection consumers need online.”
It is a legal requirement that all gold, silver, platinum and palladium jewellery sold in the UK must be hallmarked by one of four independent Assay Offices in Edinburgh, London, Sheffield and Birmingham. Precious metals are rarely used in their purest form but are alloyed with lesser metals to achieve the desired strength, durability and colour. Edinburgh Assay Office has been testing and hallmarking for 550 years. Today it is the fastest growing Assay Office in Europe, working with some of the world’s premier jewellery brands.
Trustmarks are a well established solution to the issue of consumer trust online with research showing that consumers are more likely to buy from a site with a trust mark as Andy Mulcahy, of the Interactive Media in Retail Group (IMRG) explains:
“Trust remains one of the key elements that determine whether a consumer will shop with an online retailer. The Assay Assured scheme will greatly improve confidence in jewellery sites by communicating to consumers that the retailer is compliant with a code of conduct that ensures the products advertised meet industry standards. Increasing trust in retail sites is particularly important at the moment as cross-border trade is really opening up, and making a purchase from a site based in another country is highly dependent on reassurance that the retailer is genuine and compliant with standards.”
The Assay Assured scheme will be underpinned by a strict code of conduct for online jewellery sales, in compliance with the Hallmarking Act and also covering the sale of counterfeit branded jewellery. Before accrediting a site Assay Assured will first carry out an audit of the online retailer and their website. Only if they meet the requirements they will be asked to sign up to Assay Assured jewellery retailer’s agreement.
The agreement will authorise the retailer to carry the Assay Assured jewellery retailer logo on their website. The logo will link directly to a unique secure certificate, which will confirm their authenticity as an Assay Assured retailer. Within the certificate the consumer will be able to link to a consumer focused landing page giving details about the scheme and UK hallmarking.
Although consumers will, in the first instance be encouraged to report any queries relating to the code of conduct to the retailer, the certificate and the landing page will also allow consumers to report a query to Assay Assured about a product, should they fail to resolve their query with the retailer.
Assay Assurance will provide an independent arbitration service for retailers and consumers if a product is suspected of being in breach of the code, if the dispute cannot first be resolved between the retailer and the consumer.
To find out more about Assay Assured visit: www.assayassured.co.uk
For more information contact Sarah Lee.