Internet retailers are being accused of having little regard for protecting consumers after a study found a third of gold jewellery sold online could be fake. The British Hallmarking Council (BHC) conducted a 10 day study and found 6,377 listings - or 36% - did not mention a hallmark.
Jewellery advertised as precious metal (over 1gramme or Silver over 7.78 grammes) but does not have a hallmark to confirm the product's authenticity, is being sold illegally.
Anything sold in the UK which is made from a precious metal - silver, gold, platinum and palladium - and is over a certain weight must have a hallmark.
The research suggests that housands of items of fake gold jewellery could be on sale in the UK each year and the study could highlight just a fraction of the total number of contraventions.
Few internet big players are willing to step up and help protect consumers by enforcing the regulations, leaving this solely to local trading standards departments who are poorly equipped to deal with the situation and don't have the required powers to cope with internet trade in this area.
Consumers should always ask an online seller if an item has been hallmarked (if it's over the legal requirement) and it is hoped that the current Hallmarking Act can be extended to cover internet trade in the very near furure to enforce a sturdy strategy of protecting businesses and consumers from unfair trading practices.
It is also hoped that the Government will work with large online organisations, such as Amazon and Ebay, to educate, inform and raise awareness of precious metal selling regulations and the law.
Please contact your local Citizens Advice Bureau or Trading Standards offices for further information about hallmarking disputes and what to do if you suspect a dealer is acting illegally.