A court in Spain said Tuesday it has opened an investigation into accusations that Spanish jewellery chain TOUS sold items it falsely claimed were made entirely of gold or silver, a charge the firm denied.
Spain's National Court opened the inquiry after receiving a complaint from a consumer group that some of the company's products "are not entirely made of gold as indicated in its advertising," a court spokeswoman said.
An investigating judge has summoned for questioning a TOUS manager as well as a representative of an independent company which certifies the quality of its products, the spokeswoman added.
The National Court, which handles major criminal cases, took over because "there may be numerous victims across Spain," she told AFP.
TOUS, which has more than 700 stores around the world, is famous for its pendants in gold or silver in the shape of a bear cub.
Oscar-winning US actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whose Goop website and store promote healthy eating and stress-free living, featured in one of the company's global advertising campaigns.
Spanish consumer group Consujoya accused TOUS of selling jewellery it guaranteed was pure gold but which in fact contained other metals.
"When a consumer buys a bear and pays over 400 euros, do they know that it is mostly made of filling and not gold?" the group asked on its Facebook page.
The company, founded in 1920, denied the accusations, saying in a statement its products were certified by external labs "in accordance with the highest quality standards".
TOUS said it uses a process known as electroforming, which uses an electrical current to mould jewellery of "all shapes and sizes, with pieces of greater volumes which at the same time are light, and without using welding".
But it added that in some cases, the jewellery "could contain non-metallic cores to help provide it with stability".
These products respect legislation regulating precious metals and are always accompanied by a certificate which explains how they were made and guarantee that they contain pure gold or silver, it added.
TOUS sells jewellery, handbags, watches and accessories in 53 countries.