So you think that pair of earrings you're buying is gold? It says it's gold, so it must be, right?
A new law passed by the FTC in 2019 says that companies can now call (almost) anything gold.
Which means a lot of companies are using the word gold when they shouldn’t. So how did this happen?
As of this year, 2019, the FTC has removed the ‘gold floor!’ Which once protected the word 'gold' to metals that were at least 10 karat. Without the 'gold floor' regulation you can call anything real, solid gold…. Even if it has 1 karat of gold in some part of it. 1 karat. That's not even a joke.
Also, I should note that there are also other sneaky ways that brands call jewelry real 'gold' when it's not. Be aware of the following terms used to describe certain types of jewelry that should be avoided at all costs:
- Gold Plated: A base metal like brass has been dipped into gold and the gold content is usually less than 1%!
- Gold Vermeil: Nearly identical to gold plating, but where the base metal is silver, which doesn't change the fact that the gold on the outside comes off over time.
- Gold Filled: Jewelry where a slightly thicker layer of gold is put onto the outside of a base metal mechanically, making it ever so slightly thicker than gold plating. Gold filled jewelry is the trickiest of all because it is actually allowed to be stamped with a gold karat number (like 14k or 18k depending) which is deceiving given that only 5% of the piece actually needs to be made of gold!
Honestly, all of this is terrible for more than one reason. To start with, it completely allows for (legal) false advertising. Moreover, it undermines the value of real gold and the perception of what gold is and means to the customer. Not to mention it's absolutely confusing, even to the best of us.
To conclude, just be aware of what you’re really getting. Look out for the gold's karat and for the sneaky gold-filler words mentioned above.
Get to know the brands you buy from, and remember that if the price of gold jewelry looks 'too good to be true' it is. Gold is expensive for a reason, anything less, and there's bound to be something a bit sneaky is going on.