BEND, Ore. (AP) — Oregon regulators say they want consumers who sell their gold jewelry to make sure they look for a sticker that shows the state has certified the scales used to weigh it.
The Bulletin said a search of licensing records showed several Bend businesses that offer to buy gold do not have state licenses for their scales.
The state agency in charge of licensing jewelry scales is the Measurement Standards Division, part of the Oregon Department of Agriculture.
Two business owners told the newspaper they were not aware of the requirement, and the state acknowledges it has not enforced the law.
"This was an area we hadn't spent a whole lot of time on," said Jason Butler, administrator of the Measurement Standards Division.
It is now. The state first sent letters to Oregon's 70-plus pawnshops, which are also separately licensed by the Department of Consumer and Business Services.
Butler said letters will soon be sent to Oregon's nearly 500 jewelry stores.
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His agency also licenses or certifies scales that weigh rail cars on railroad tracks moving or standing still; meters that measure bulk petroleum and vapors; and the truck scales for the Oregon Transportation Department.
Butler, who took over the division in November, said 18 inspectors are responsible for 54,000 devices in the state, so the division had to set priorities, like certifying the state's fuel pumps, which dispense billions of gallons, truck scales and grocery store scales.
"Up until recently, the small pawnshop jewelry-type scales were at the bottom of the list," Butler said.
But when the economy crashed and gold prices soared, people began selling their jewelry, and state officials wanted to ensure that customers got a fair deal.
So they have launched a campaign that's part compliance initiative, part consumer education effort.
Bill Fleming, owner of Bill Fleming Gold and Jewelry in Bend, said he knew the store's scales must meet certain standards, and he has met them for 30 years.
But he said he did not know the state had to certify the scales, which he will do. Once he gets certified, Fleming said it might provide customers with some assurance.
Customers will see the sticker "and know your weights are accurate," Fleming said.
Information from: The Bulletin, http://www.bendbulletin.com
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press