Misrepresenting Materials & How Doing So Can Hurt Your Business

I know I'm not alone in the feelings represented in this blog. I know this because I've had conversations with several other etsy sellers, friends, and non-sellers alike - regarding the blatant disregard of etsy's code of conduct regarding tagging of listings and misrepresenting materials in any given piece of work.

Mostly yes this concerns jewelry makers/sellers/resellers. Those who do work in sterling silver know what the metal looks like, in all its forms & conditions. Those who don't...well they fake it. Most curb chains you buy in stores - craft stores are silver plated or nickel plated (most likely the latter).

Curbchains are -premade- oval sometimes slightly twisted links making up a simple chain. Very seldom are you going to find sterling silver curb chain unless you buy it from a respectable online manufacturer/seller such as Rio Grande, Monsterslayer or Thunderbird.

That's not to say other sellers do not exist but if it sounds like too good of a deal to be true it probably is. Current Kitco pricing for sterling silver is: - that's for raw metal - not wire, not jump rings. Most places price silver daily - and silver isn't cheap right now... Want to know more - there are approximately 172 20g 1/8" sterling silver rings per ounce - that's (.8mm WD & 3.2mm ID) if what is in parentheses makes no sense to you - and you claim to make chainmaille - you may want to get your kits somewhere else.

I don't get why someone would want to blatantly misrepresent their items to customers knowing that once you're found out - as selling something for 3 times the price of what its worth - because you're using misrepresented supplies...you've lost your customers' trust. Selling something as sterling silver when you're really selling nickel or silver plated brass - is a big no-no. This is just like people who say moonstone and opalite glass are the same thing. They're not.

Sterling Silver is 92.5% silver & 7.5% copper in an alloy. That doesn't mean silver is plated over copper it means the two are mixed together in the actual metal itself. Silver plating is a thin layer of sterling silver over a usually brass core. As a customer you would be served to be informed of what it is you're looking for in an item before you go browsing on etsy - willy nilly. I say this because in the last week I've seen more misrepresented stuff than I can count - all of it jewelry.

I've had 3 sellers swear their products are Sterling Silver  yet they're charging the same amount for a pair of earrings made with Sterling Silver rings - as they are for earrings that are 4 beads on a headpin. That doesn't add up to a smart consumer. If the deal smells fishy - or sounds too good to be true it probably is. Silver prices are $17 per oz for raw metal today - this doesn't count milling charges, or a seller's profit - most prices for an oz of silver in the last month were $30 + per ounce depending on size of the rings you're buying.

So if someone's using 25 rings in a pair of earrings - and charging $10 for a pair...and using 500 rings in a pendant and charging $60+ for the pendant - there's a problem with the math. The earrings should be priced at the same pricing for silver as the rings used in the pendant.

If you're unsure - or the tags & photos don't add up - talk to the seller - an honest one, who knows their materials, and their final products - won't mind answering questions about their item before you purchase. Also the number of sellers who have items listed and don't know what their materials are is staggering also - german silver = nickel silver  an alloy of copper, zinc, and nickel - and is bad for those with nickel sensitivities/allergies. Yet I see people passing this off as "German Sterling Silver"...its not the same thing. German silver is nickel silver and vice versa. No sterling silver is included in nickel/german silver.

Seeing a lot of bracelets & even suppliers listing things as Non Tarnish Sterling Silver. Doesn't exist. Sterling silver tarnishes because of its copper component in the alloy. Non-tarnish silver rings do exist but know that they're not sterling or even full silver. These rings/wire are generally low cost, and precut; they're most likely made of Silvered Enameled Copper - that is Silvered enamelled copper has a layer of pure silver plated onto the soft copper and then a plastic enamel type coating is plated over that. It does have some silver in it  but it is NOT sterling or pure silver.

Its not just wire jewelry that is misrepresented. Had a 4 way discussion in etsy chat one day with a seller who had Moonstone items in their shop - which you could tell really were moonstone. Two other people joined in who said its ok to list Sea Opalite Glass as Moonstone - it will sell better. One of those people swore up and down that Sea Opalite glass, moonstone, man-made opals, and natural opals are all the same.

Despite posting links to these people showing that the 4 items have very different chemical formulas - the two swore that they were right and its entirely ok to post them all as the same thing "Moonstone".
Moonstone is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moonstone_%28gemstone%29
opalite glass is A human-made opalized glass resin that is fused with metal to create an opalescent effect. (manmade)
natural opals are made of silicon, hydrogen & oxygen; see here: http://webmineral.com/data/Opal.shtml

There's so many more things I could say about mislabeled/misrepresented gemstones/metals etc. A lot of it I think has to do with people who choose to be oblivious to their product. Sellers who can and to show a thorough knowledge of their product, and it component items are much more likely to get me to make a purchase from them - than those who don't know anything about the item they're selling.

Simply put - having 14 tags on your etsy items does help people find what they're looking for, and it ensures your items are getting seen by the right target audience you want to attract, but don't make things up, and don't put something down that doesn't truly fit your item, it is a waste of your customer's time, and yours for having put it there, properly, accurately tagged items, are much more likely to get a sale from me and I know from others as well. If your items do not contain something be that something sterling silver or a gemstone of any type - don't put that item in your tags or in your listing. Its one thing to label something 'silver colored' and another to label it silver - and expect your customers to know you really mean silver colored metal not Silver (Ag) Metal.

Here's more on how to know what to look for in quality made chainmaille!

A post from a fellow fe-mailler and friend on quality of chainmaille - very informative for customers and sellers alike - http://torajewelry.blogspot.com/2010/03/whats-in-ring.html


Erica said...

I totally agree with you!

I would be really upset if I thought I was buying one thing and ended up with something else!

ToraJewelry said...

Well said, I've seen some examples of what you're talking about and it's sad. Thanks for linking to my blog, and for educating others.

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