Proper Disclosure: The Right Thing to Do...Proper Disclosure: The Right Thing to Do...
(and it may just help you develop a loyal customer base, too)
As makers of beaded jewellery selling on the internet, we have a duty to provide an honest and complete description of what we are selling. We have a duty, as well, to stand behind what we make. The old maxim "the customer is always right" ought to be engraved in granite to stand before the work table of everyone who ever strings a bead for profit.
People who misrepresent the nature of the components in their designs hurt their own business and all of our businesses. Anything that makes a customer suspicious is a detriment and should be avoided at all costs.
A prime example is the admittedly lovely, but ersatz, cherry "quartz." There has been a great deal of buzz about the beading world that this is NOT in fact quartz at all, but glass. There are still beaders who, knowingly or not, bill it as the real deal. THAT is fraud.
We have a responsibility to our customers. They deserve to know what it is they are getting for their money. Is it real stone? Does it have the properties of real stone? Will it shatter easily, as glass will? The mother of small children will be justified in her concern; sell her what she thinks is stone, only to have her children injured on shards of shattered glass, and the maker may be looking at a lawsuit.
All right, perhaps that is a bit extreme. But how about letting the buyer know whether or not that quartz or chalcedony (or garnet or ruby) is dyed? Dyed stone tends to fade over time in sunlight, and may lead to a disappointed customer if she isn't forewarned.
New techniques such as colour-irradiation seem to make artificial colouring of stone permanent...but the technology is SO new, we really don't know what will happen over the long haul. Honesty being the best policy, I think it's wise to let the customer know WHY she's able to get (for instance) aquamarines that look that spectacular at such a low price.
It is also important to quantify for the customer the value of what they are buying. A $5 bracelet at a discount department store may be what she can afford at the moment, and that is fine. However, if it falls apart or she has a reaction to base metal, she might be more inclined to purchase a higher price-point item in the future. By clearly stating what she's getting for her money, you will help educate her and may even gain a repeat customer.
This leads to some fairly byzantine philosophical arguments as to how detailed one needs to be in revealing things to one's customer. Many (if not most) sellers of jewellry containing fire polished crystal refer to it simply as "crystal." If one wants to bow to common usage, then that's okay. However, technically that's wrong, for firepolish contains no lead, so is not crystal at all, but glass. For the same reason, the "crystal" that is coming in from China is, in fact, faceted glass.
Now the Egyptian crystal we're starting to see is fully-leaded and there's no argument about whether or not it's really crystal...but it's manufactured on cutting-edge (pun intended) German machinery, and at least one major retailer is billing it as "German crystal." Honest? Accurate? Well, the seller does explain in the fine print that the beads are really Egyptian, so I can't be too upset with them. Should YOU, in selling an item made with that crystal, also list it as German? How fine do you want to split that hair?
It is important to understand that it does not matter what "trade name" your supplier decides to use. "Trade names" are often misleading and it is ultimately your responsibility to do the research required. It's not a bad idea to let your suppliers know that you don't appreciate their use of misleading trade names, and ask that they properly identify what they are selling so that you may as well.
While it's true that we don't have to underscore every detail of every component in describing our wares, if we're wise, we'll know the true nature of the beads and findings we use, and we'll pass on what we know to our customers. We'll explain that "new jade," "mountain jade," and "Malaysia jade" aren't even members of the jade family, but are, respectively, serpentine, dyed dolomite marble, and dyed quartz. We'll differentiate between what's crystal and what's glass, and between what's contemporary and what's vintage. And if we find out after we've listed something for sale on our websites that it's not what we thought it was, we'll have the courage and integrity to change the description to match the facts.
For more information about proper disclosure when selling jewelry check the Federal Trade Commission website:
Click here for the FTC guidelines
For more discussion visit:
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This article provided by and reprinted with the permission of:
Thea of Sparkle Plenty Fine Beaded Jewellery
Handcrafted Artisan Beaded Jewelry
Click here for Sparkle Plenty Fine Beaded Jewellery
Sam of Eclectic Elements
Mahjongg Mah Jongg Tile Bracelets, Recycled Game Piece Jewelry and Gifts
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