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Jewellers told to keep it real

Gems are displayed during an exhibition in Phnom Penh in 2014.
Gems are displayed during an exhibition in Phnom Penh in 2014. Heng Chivoan

Jewellers told to keep it real

The Ministry of Commerce will begin actively regulating the activities of gemstone and jewellery sellers to strengthen transparency in the industry and weed out those that sell fraudulent overpriced products, it said in a statement yesterday.

The announcement warned that government Camcontrol officers will inspect jewellery retailers suspected of selling fake or mislabelled products to Cambodians and tourists.

Soeng Sophary, spokesperson for the Ministry of Commerce, said the crackdown comes amid growing concerns of customers being duped through false advertising by unprofessional jewellery shop owners.

“There are a few cases that foreign tourists have lost thousands of dollars by buying fake jewellery,” she said.

“While there are only a few cases of businesses cheating customers that we are aware of, we need to be more cautious because it can affect the industry as a whole.”

Sophary added that the new regulations would ensure fairness in the industry to the benefit of the customer.

According to the announcement, gemstone and jewellery retailers are required to sell products – whether jewellery, gems or souvenirs – exactly as they are advertised.

Shop owners must also clearly display the prices and quality of the product, allowing customers to compare between what is real, fake or overpriced.

While the announcement did not indicate when Camcontrol officers would begin inspections, it said officials were ready to investigate to ensure compliance.

Several jewellery shop owners in Phnom Penh welcomed the new regulations and said they would cooperate with officials, but questioned whether the enforcement would be effective or sustainable.

Sam Bunna, owner of Sovann Sophon Jewellery Shop in Phnom Penh, said the growing demand for Cambodian jewellery and gemstones has opened the door to fake products. He said active government regulation of the industry would help ensure that businesses operate above board.

“We run a fair business with high responsibility to our customers,” he said. “We will work with the ministry and we hope by doing so it will build more trust for our customers.”

Khoul Vun, owner of Laor Penh Chet Jewellery Shop, said that he was willing to put price tags on the products he sells, but foresees difficulties. He explained that prices for commodities such as gold are highly volatile, causing the cost of jewellery to rise and fall daily.

“The regulation from the ministry is good, but I just worry that it might not work like they think it will,” he said.

“However, it is good to do it now and develop it step by step.”

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