Lumina Jewellery Plagiarising Our Work
Caught Red Handed
Plagiarism is the practice of taking someone else's ideas and work in order to pass it off as your own and whilst this is a massive problem online, most perpetrators are savvy and discreet enough to cover their tracks and make sufficient alterations to the stolen material to ensure it can't be identified as someone else's work. It's well known particularly amongst online retailers that duplicate content doesn't rank well on Google which is another reason why pages that have been plagiarised tend to be altered before being republished. This behaviour also violates Google's User Policy and can result in the perpetrator's website being blacklisted. Sarah and Picky Saund of Lumina Jewellery were either oblivious to this or chose to ignore it and clearly lacking the ability to create something unique and exciting of their own, discovered Stone Mania and started helping themselves to everything they needed.
Having landed on their website purely by chance the style of the gemstone pendants in their collection quickly caught my attention and as I tried to find out more about who this company was, I found myself reading pages of information that seemed strangely familiar. One thing I knew for certain was that whoever Lumina Jewellery were, they had been helping themselves from our website. I couldn't quite believe what I was looking at yet plagiarising these pages of information was just the tip of the iceberg.
Husband and wife team Sarah and Picky Saund set up Lumina Jewellery in 2008 but it was the summer of 2013 before they launched their website. Less than a year later and thanks to Stone Mania it had a whole new look. Explaining on their homepage how they came to set up their business Sarah writes:
"It was a very deliberate lifestyle choice for us. What we wanted was a way to work together which would allow us to use our brains and our creativity and also allow us to spend time together as a family. Neither of us have any formal training in jewellery design but we were both drawn to working with stones".
The truth of the matter however was that instead of using their "brains and creativity" to come up with ideas of their own they instead plagiarised designs, trading policies and even ideas for photos from another business. I believe Sarah and Picky first saw Stone Mania at one of the many retail shows that we did at that time and subsequently visited our website. I'm not certain that "Lumina Jewellery" as a business even existed at that time but with the knowledge that I now have, believe there's a pretty good chance that it was set up some time later.
Whilst doing research online in 2017 to gather information about a particular mineral I was writing about I landed on their website and was immediately curious about who they were. In fifteen years of trading online I knew exactly who my competitors were and had never heard of or seen this business before. Links at the top of their website with the headings Order & Returns Policy, Shipping Policy and Terms & Conditions caught my attention but it was the link entitled Our Photos that really set the alarm bells ringing. On the top of the Stone Mania website in exactly the same position we had links to four information pages all of which had exactly the same titles. Whilst it's not unusual for a business to have links to a Shipping Policy and Terms & Conditions, having a page called Order & Returns Policy and Our Photos was more than just a coincidence. I soon found myself reading pages of text that I had personally written some years earlier and only very minor changes had been made. They even kept the links that I built which now of course pointed to relevant pages on their own website.
By using the internet archive service Wayback Machine I was able to pinpoint fairly precisely when the plagiarism had taken place. My pages first appeared on the Lumina Jewellery website in late 2014 and in March 2015 I made some amendments to all four pages but it was the original text that had been plagiarised. The Terms & Conditions, Shipping Policy and Order & Returns Policy had been tailored precisely for my business and were specific and detailed and were apparently perfect for Lumina Jewellery.
Our Trading Policies Plagiarised by Lumina Jewellery
Sarah and Picky Saund had made some very minor changes to the Shipping Policy but kept the line that said "jewellery will be sent in a stylish gift pouch". I wonder whether they ever bought anything from me to see what our "stylish gift pouches" were like and whether they subsequently had the same ones made for themselves?
With the exception of the last paragraph our Shipping Policy was originally identical to the one featured on their website. The screenshot of our page below is slightly different because the only snapshot I could find on Wayback Machine was taken after the page had been updated.
The "Our Photos" page which they also plagiarised explained how our photographs were taken and although some changes to the text had been made, it's not difficult to see where the article came from.
Lumina Jewellery Unbelievably Audacious
As I looked more closely at the design of their website I realised there were many similarities to our own before it was redesigned in 2015. Their company name and logo were in almost exactly the same position, the bar which featured text-links to different information pages was the same apart from the colour and the banner which featured photos of their jewellery on a rotating loop was identical apart from on Stone Mania it was on a white background. Even the search box, shopping cart and company tagline were in exactly the same positions. The colours they had chosen to use were also uncannily similar and although they clearly had a logo designed, I believe the fact that it includes a kind of octagon shape is unlikely to be a coincidence.
When creating a design for a website a graphic designer needs something to work from in order to come up with new ideas and I think it's clear to see where those ideas came from. Even the tagline “The natural beauty of gemstones combined with creative use of silver to breathtaking effect” was vaguely similar to ours which at the time was, "Transforming magnificent gemstones into breathtaking pieces of jewellery”. We stopped using it in 2010 because that's when we started adding crystals, rocks and minerals to our collection.
Lumina Jewellery also sold gemstone rings just as we did until about 2013 and the way that section of their website was laid out was unsurprisingly exactly the same as it was on ours. They also had a section called "Stone Directory" but instead of writing about each gemstone individually as we did in our Gemstone Directory (now Articles & Photos), they just included one long list of names and I'm assuming they hadn't yet managed to plagiarise those pages from us.
It amazes me how audacious some people can be, creating a successful presence for any business online takes time, money and effort and since launching our website in 2003 we've invested significant amounts of all three. Sarah and Picky Saund on the other hand seem to think that everything they see online is theirs for the taking.
Just when I thought I'd seen everything I noticed from photos on their website that they do retail fairs around the country which we did for many years and having seen their stand, I immediately recognised them. I had seen Picky Saund at a few fairs over the last couple of years and his stand caught my attention not only because of the similarity of some of the pendants but also because of the size of their collection. The first time I saw them was when the French Market came to St Albans, I then saw them again at the Rock n Gem show at Kempton Park Racecourse and finally at Winchester Cathedral Christmas market. Needless to say Stone Mania traded for many years in all three of those locations. I had even spoken to Picky whilst visiting the Christmas Market in Winchester some years later and introduced myself and explained that I had a company called Stone Mania. Little did I know that he knew exactly who I was.
Where Will it End?
Wanting to see what else I could find out about Lumina Jewellery I turned to Facebook and found this photo, I have erased their faces to comply with privacy laws. If you're wondering why photos of loose cabochons is relevant you'll see when you look at the next photo which was taken by me.
We used to have many photos like this on our website and on social media platforms to show customers that gemstones in our collection were selected prior to pendants being crafted.
This was now getting beyond a joke but the worst was yet to come. Take a look at the next couple of photos, the first one is also from the Facebook page of Lumina Jewellery and I'm assuming it's them with their supplier in India choosing labradorite cabochons.
What follows is not another photo of them choosing labradorite but is instead a photo that I took whilst at MY supplier choosing labradorite for MY collection. This photo has been on our website for several years (right here) and the original which can be seen here is dated January 2007. This was more than just plagiarism, it was downright freaky!
I then found myself looking at a photo of their retail stand and immediately noticed a similarity not only in how their jewellery was displayed but also how the stand was set up. The next two photos show Stone Mania at one of the very first country shows that we did back in 2004 and Lumina Jewellery more recently at the Royal Berkshire Show. I think you'll agree there are far too many similarities for it to be yet another coincidence.
In 2007 we had cherry wood display boards made to match our existing counter top display cases. This photo of Stone Mania at the Winchester Christmas market was taken two years before Lumina Jewellery began trading.
Copyright Infringement Notice Against Lumina Jewellery
By now I had seen more than enough and immediately filed a copyright infringement notice with Google. I also sent an email to Lumina Jewellery confronting them about what I had found but needless to say they were neither brave enough or courteous enough to respond. What they did do however literally within minutes of receiving the email was remove all of the plagiarised pages from their website.
Clearly they believed that deleting the pages would remove any trace of them but it's much easier to upload information to the internet than it is to delete it. Not only does Google cache pages which means it regularly takes a snapshot which remains accessible until the page is crawled again and the cached page is then updated, but there are also internet archive websites like Wayback Machine which enable you to go "way back" in time to see how a page once looked. Despite the text on the page below being deleted in April 2017 it will remain visible and fully accessible for many, many years to come. In addition to the image below this link was added when this page was updated in June 2020 and leads to the same plagiarised page on Lumina Jewellery's website (it can be a little slow to load).
This should be a lesson to anyone who has their own business that there are people out there like Sarah and Picky Saund who are quite happy to plagiarise other people's work and ideas instead of creating something original of their own. I have to say after many years of trading online and being well aware of plagiarism, I have never heard of anyone stealing pages from a competitor's website which includes trading policies in order to use them virtually verbatim on their own website. Nor have I heard of anyone taking identical photos or copying the way a competitor sets up their retail stand. To be honest I think that's not only sad but also quite weird.
When most people start a business they usually want to create something unique, exciting and original that they can truly call their own but following my experience with Lumina Jewellery, I now realise that's not always the case. Despite stealing so much from Stone Mania they then had the audacity to write on the home page of their website, "It was a very deliberate lifestyle choice for us. What we wanted was a way to work together which would allow us to use our brains and our creativity".
Stone Mania has come a very long way since the company was established in 2002 and we owe everything that we've achieved to many years of hard work, absolute dedication and an unwavering desire to succeed at building a unique and successful business. As it's plain to see from this article and the accompanying photos and screenshots, Lumina Jewellery have a very different mentality and I think the following screenshot from their Google feedback page sums them up perfectly. If you're going to leave a review for your own business, at least be sensible enough to change your name!
The screenshot below which was taken from their original website states they were looking to do something together and were drawn to working with stones but I'll always wonder whether that came about before or after they discovered Stone Mania. I'm fairly certain the only stones they were drawn to were mine!
My advice to these two individuals for the future is don't plagiarise other people's work, use your "brains and creativity" and come up with something unique of your own.