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Proposed gem ordinance shelved till 2014
Jewelers, others raise questions
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Forsyth County News

A proposed ordinance regulating dealers of precious metals and gems in Forsyth County has been put on hold to consider some changes.

During a public hearing Thursday, the county commission heard from local jewelers and a pawn shop owner concerned with what seemed to be unintended effects of the law.

The commission then voted 4-0, with Todd Levent absent, to rework the draft and hold a third hearing next year.

Similar to the recently enacted pawn shop ordinance, the regulations on dealers aim to recover stolen goods and deter criminals.

Dealers would be required to submit daily electronic reports of the materials they take in to the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office.

Establishments with security cameras would have to maintain video for at least 30 days.

They would also have to get a fingerprint and photo ID from the seller, as well as a digital image of what’s being sold. Materials would then be held for at least 30 days before resale.

Local business owners agreed with the goal of the law, but highlighted some areas that could affect their work.

Izzy Israeli questioned whether the 30-day hold period for materials before resale would apply for custom work.

The owner of Atlanta Diamond Design said a big part of his business is taking family heirlooms and producing new pieces, which seems to apply under the county’s proposal.

Mike Weaver of Omega Diamond Jewelers agreed that custom designs should be excluded from the rules.

Having to hold a piece for 30 days would not only cause a “cash-flow situation,” but also turn away customers who need the work done more quickly.

Lance White, owner of Lance’s Jewelry, said state law requires a seven-day hold, while material from the sheriff’s office indicated a 15-day waiting period.

“There’s a lot of questions that we have that we just don’t have answered,” White said.

The proposed regulations are similar to the pawn shop ordinance, which was modified earlier this year.

For pawn shop dealers, both sets of regulations could apply since they also purchase jewelry, said Dale Rogers, owner of Lake Lanier Pawn.

He questioned whether pawn shops would need two licenses, and added that the laws have different requirements.

The pawn shop ordinance requires a 15-day hold, while precious metals and gems would be 30 days, if approved as stands.

Commissioners directed the county attorney to work with White and other business owners to massage the proposed regulations.

The third hearing likely won’t take place until at least February, to allow the jewelers time to focus on the busy holiday shopping season.