Lost the receipt for that diamond? No problem, just scan the barcode

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 15 December, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 15 December, 2009, 12:00am

In a world first, Hong Kong will offer customers a chance to have tiny barcodes inscribed by laser onto their jewellery - a hi-tech alternative to the information now contained on paper receipts.

The scheme is aimed at boosting consumer confidence in jewellery by making it easier to establish the origin and quality of the product.

The city's jewellery exports top US$4 billion a year, while gold jewellery and gemstones are major shopping draws for mainland tourists.

The system, which was five years in the making, was developed by the Hong Kong Jewellery Manufacturers' Association and is being implemented by the Productivity Council.

Although the hi-tech labelling system does not replace paper receipts, which contain important details about the product and the retailer, it does mean lost receipts no longer spell disaster for the customer.

A laser inscribes a special 3mm by 1mm barcode containing encrypted information about the product on the jewellery, such as on the inside of a ring. A mainland tourist for instance could then verify its authenticity.

'The Global J-ID Management Label Scheme addresses the industry's need for solutions in product traceability,' said the chairman of the Productivity Council, Clement Chen Cheng-jen. 'With enhanced credibility, it will raise the image of Hong Kong jewellery products on the mainland and internationally.'

William Wong Wai-sheung, chief executive of Luk Fook Group, which is one of three retailers using the system under a pilot programme, said many customers eventually lost track of paper receipts but need to get detailed information about their jewellery. The customer could get the barcode scanned at the retailer, he said.

Connie Lau Yin-hing, chief executive of the Consumer Council, said the scheme could also boost consumer confidence in light of several complaints concerning jewellery sales.

The scheme was funded by the SME Development Fund of the Trade and Industry Department.