Everyone appreciates items made from precious metals and stones – diamonds and rubies. In Romania, the business of operations with precious metals and stones can be carried out by anybody authorized by the National Authority for Consumer Protection as provided by GEO no. 190/2000 which refers to the regime of dealing with precious metals and precious stones.

The operations relating to precious metals and stones for which an authorization is required includes the production and processing, sale and purchase, importing and exporting and the provision of services relating to precious metals and stones. Persons authorized to carry out these operations have the obligation to ensure they keep strict records of these operations.

The authorization is obtained from the National Authority for Consumer Protection who within 30 days from the date of submission of an application accompanied by the necessary documentation have to give the right to carry out operations with precious metals and stones or reject the application.

Obtaining the authorization does not require the payment of any fees and is issued for an indefinite period. However, it must be endorsed (renewed) annually by the National Authority for Consumer Protection.

If a company or person from the European Union, the European Economic Area and Turkey is registered with the competent authority of their own country they are not subject to authorization by the National Authority for Consumer Protection. However, they must notify the National Authority for Consumer Protection, prior to the commencement of carrying out operations with precious metals and stones in Romania, including cases of distance contracts and off-premises contracts.

In order for someone to deal in precious metals only those that have the Title Mark (applied by the manufacturer), the Responsibility Mark (applied by the economic operator) and the State Mark (applied by the National Authority for Consumer Protection) can be placed on the market and sold.

As an exception precious metal objects on which these marks cannot be applied may be placed on the market if they have the state mark or are accompanied by a test certificate issued by the National Authority for Consumer Protection. Further, certain objects made of precious metals such as gold objects weighing up to one gram, silver objects weighing up to two gram, coins, medals or ingots of precious metals are exempted from marking.

The Title Mark is different depending on the purity of the precious metal and is applied to precious metal objects by the manufacturer. It is expressed in Arabic numerals. For example, in Romania there are ten legal titles for gold, and there are six legal titles for silver.

Further, objects made of precious metals that have applied a Title Mark according to the legislation of another Member State of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Turkey, may be traded if they have been applied by a competent authority of that state and are an equivalent mark to the Romanian mark. The indications must contain equivalent and intelligible information for consumers in Romania.

The Responsibility Mark is established and registered with the National Authority for Consumer Protection and is applied to objects made of precious metals by vendors who place the product on the irrespective of whether they are producers or importers of these goods. By applying this mark they assume responsibility for any hidden defects of the object.

The Responsibility Marks from another member state of the European Union, the European Economic Area and Turkey registered with the that competent authority are also recognized on the Romanian territory.

Finally, The State Mark is an official mark, protected by law, representing the type of precious metal which is applied exclusively by the National Authority for Consumer Protection, as the competent authority, before placing the item on the national market. To obtain this mark the goods together with the documents of origin, must be presented to the National Authority for Consumer Protection to be marked within 7 days from the date of registration. Jewellery or other articles made from precious metals may be marketed without the State Mark only if they have affixed to them an equivalent mark belonging to a competent authority of another Member State of the European Union, European Economic Area and Turkey.

The purpose of the marking is to ensure that the consumer purchases items that have the precious metal content corresponding to the Title Mark and to identify the person who has applied the Responsibility Mark.

Therefore, in Romania, precious metal objects can be traded to the public only by persons authorized for this purpose by the National Authority for Consumer Protection. Moreover, precious metal objects may be put up for sale only if they have affixed the three marks indicated above or the equivalent. If these Marks are not affixed or evidence of their application provided then a person selling the items is liable in law.

ANA-MARIA PURCĂREANU