Monday, September 5, 2011

Counterfeits and Frauds

Items seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

We’ve all heard of counterfeits. Counterfeits are generally imitations of real products that are passed off as genuine. In 2005, United States Customs made 8,022 seizures of counterfeit goods with a domestic value of approximately $93 million. In 2010, there were 19,959 seizures of counterfeit goods with a domestic value of $188.1 million. Statistics from the United States Immigration and Customs Enforcement show a definitive uptick in counterfeiting, and China continues to be the number one source of counterfeit merchandise.

As a jewelry retailer I am concerned with counterfeiting and its impact on the industry. The callous disregard for selling obvious counterfeit goods on places like E-Bay is disturbing. It also makes it difficult for the average consumer to know if they are purchasing the “real deal” when shopping in small shops or on-line stores. Keep in mind these principles when shopping.

If the deal sounds too good to be true, it’s probably not true. An on-line seller offering David Yurman earrings for 75% off is probably not selling real David Yurman earrings. You could receive real gemstones, sterling silver and 14k gold overlay in your jewelry but the workmanship will be inferior and of course it won’t be licensed by the designer. Many counterfeiters are using real material in their products but the manufacturing and material is far from the high standards most designers require from their own production houses.

Know your retailer. This applies to small stores in tourist locations as well as shops in strip malls. If the store is clean, well stocked, and you have a long term relationship with the owner you will be better off. Fly by night stores or temporary establishments could be trouble.

Ask the jeweler about their product. Retailers who are interested in serving their customer’s best interest will not evade questions. A lack of knowledgeable is different from evasion; actual evasion of a question could be a red flag. If they give a vague answer or act insulted, move to another store.

A certificate stating the specifics on a diamond may not necessarily be real. There is a market for counterfeit certificates. Take the time to have loose diamonds examined at an independent laboratory if you are going to purchase a high quality diamond over one carat.

Your best bet against counterfeit goods is doing your own research and examining your product. Buy goods from reputable dealers and if possible, purchase directly from the design house. Believe it or not, the price will be the same. Protect yourself against counterfeiters and everyone will benefit.

 Items seized by US Immigration and Customs Enforcement

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