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Gold quality disputed, ill-managed   2010-02-01 - VietNamNet/TP

The value of gold depends on title of gold and its weight. Consumers may have their pockets picked clean when buying gold jewelry since sellers can easily cheat their customers.


As there is no agency responsible for controlling claims made about gold products, consumers have few options other than to trust gold merchants.


Who knows the actual title of gold?


Jewelry items sparkle brilliantly in HCM City shop windows. Showing one necklace, a gold shop owner at Tan Dinh Market claimed it was 18 karat gold. The necklace beside it was from Italy and valued by the gram, each costing 700,000 dong or $36.


The shop owner said that he sold only 18K gold and guaranteed the quality. If buyers later want to exchange the jewelry, they can bring them back to his shop where the owner will buy them back at high prices.


One director of a gold trading company in HCM City revealed that it is impossible to differentiate between gold, because manipulators can use “magic” to turn 10K or 14K pieces into 18K gold. She also said that it is impossible to tell the purity of gold by its color.


In fact, gold shops also test their gold purchases, but their methods cannot always bring accurate results. Buyers are better off selling gold products back to the shops where they purchased them to minimize losses.


T. from HCM City once purchased a pair of earrings made of 18K gold. When she sold the earrings later at another gold shop, she lost 800,000 dong because she was told that the jewelry was actually 14K gold.


While shop owners guarantee that their jewelry items are all 18K gold, there are no tags on the pieces to indicate the quality.  Owners assert that such signs are not necessary, because all jewelry items are made from 18K gold.


Nguyen Van Hai, Deputy General Director of SBJ, commented that prestigious companies should be fair to clients, showing clearly the quality and name of the gold producer who is responsible for its products.


Yet only large companies have done this, while private gold shops have avoided transparency in their gold, so that they can charge the prices they want.


Loose management?


Nguyen Hoang Minh, Deputy Director of the HCM City Branch of the State Bank of Vietnam, said that the Bank has not controlled the quality of gold jewelry, because the products are considered as a kind of everyday commodities. Private enterprises register product quality with management agencies.


The Gold Business Council has called on gold traders many times to avoid halt efforts to defile the purity of gold products and to declare the quality gold on their products, but with no results.


Management loopholes have prompted traders to lower gold purity standards. A jewelry expert noted that, besides 14K gold, there are also 10K and 9K gold products as well. The expert said that if the purity of gold is lowered any further, it cannot realistically be called gold.

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