As part of its renewed jewellery guidelines, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has implemented a few changes regarding man-made diamonds. First and foremost, its new definition of a diamond, ‘A diamond is a mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system,’ eliminates the word ‘natural’ as opposed to its previous definition that suggests that a diamond is a natural mineral. The old definition is draconic, considering it was made in the year 1956, a time when mined diamonds were the only kind of diamonds. The FTC said that, ‘Since then, technological advances have made it possible to create diamonds in a laboratory. These stones have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as mined diamonds. Thus, they are diamonds.’
Also, the terminology ‘synthetic’ is no longer relevant considering the FTC suggests that the term is often interpreted as being ‘artificial’ when in fact man-made diamonds are not artificial. In its guidelines, the FTC says, ‘The record indicates many consumers mistakenly believe “synthetic” means an artificial product such as cubic zirconia, which lacks a diamond’s optical, physical, and chemical properties. Given the likelihood of consumer confusion, the final Guides do not include “synthetic” among the examples of terms that marketers may non-deceptively use to qualify claims about man-made diamonds, thus eliminating the contradiction - If a marketer uses “synthetic” to imply that a competitor’s lab-grown diamond is not an actual diamond, however, this would be deceptive.’
For years, the FTC has omitted words like gem, stone, real, genuine and gemstone from their dictionary when referring to man-made diamonds. However, it said that its previous guidelines as, ‘circular, inadequate guidance that relied on highly subjective judgments.’ So, as a matter of fact, man-made diamonds are gemstones and it is appropriate to call it ‘cultured’ like cultured pearls.
The FTC also has made clear distinctions between man-made diamonds and cheap diamond simulants. It is unfair or deceptive to use the word ‘‘laboratory-grown,’’ ‘‘laboratory-created,’’ ‘‘(manufacturer name)-created,’’ ‘‘synthetic,’’ or other word or phrase of like meaning with the name of any natural stone to describe any industry product unless such product has essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as the stone named.
It is unfair or deceptive to use the word “composite diamond,” “hybrid diamond,” or “manufactured diamond,” unless the term is qualified to disclose clearly and conspicuously that the product: A) does not have the same characteristics as the named stone; and B) requires special care. It is further recommended that the seller disclose the special care requirements to the purchaser.
The new guidelines will inevitably come as a surprise and a shock for the mined diamond fraternity as well as its lobbyists. What will entities like the DPA do about its slogan ‘Real is a Diamond’? Only time will tell.