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Consider the subtle but distinct differences between ‘colour gemstones’ and ‘coloured gemstones.’ Both are used interchangeably by different sources within the jewellery industry, but they are far from alike!
Consider the subtle but distinct differences between ‘colour gemstones’ and ‘coloured gemstones.’ Both are used interchangeably by different sources within the jewellery industry, but they are far from alike!

What's in a name? That which we call a rose, by any other word, would smell as sweet.

Language is changing faster than ever before. ANGELA HAN explores the importance of keeping current on the latest nomenclature changes.

Language is integral to everything that we do, and so it’s vital that we adhere to the most appropriate terminology in all circumstances.

For retailers, I’m sure there’s no need for me to emphasise the importance of language. Every word spoken to your customers paints an image of the necessity of your business and your products – and moves you closer to a sale!

For suppliers, a well-written email or persuasive conversation can be the difference between securing a major order or a new client.

Indeed, language is the lifeblood of Jeweller – the precise and measured way we communicate with our readers sets us apart from the rest of a very competitive industry.

Would you like to know how important language is to our readers and advertisers and to us as journalists? Well, only recently, we were contacted by a major company asking to change the wording of a story.

They didn’t like that we referred to their product as ‘lab-created diamonds’ (our house style), saying they were marketed as ‘lab-grown diamonds’.

Of course, both descriptors are acceptable and interchangeable within the trade, but not as far as this company’s marketing was concerned.

We also explained that if we use ‘lab-grown’, the companies that use ‘lab-created’ would want that changed. The debate would never end!

"Consider the subtle but distinct differences between ‘colour gemstones’ and ‘coloured gemstones.’ Both are used interchangeably by different sources within the jewellery industry, but they are far from alike!"

Of course, we refused to bend, and in fairness, after explaining that it is our house style, they were gracious and accepted our reasoning.

We live in a time of constant change, and keeping up with our evolving language and definitions can be exhausting.

Much of this issue is dedicated to the importance of vocabulary – raising questions about changes in the industry and consulting with experts for their views.

Do you know why they’re called ‘fancy’ colour diamonds? Few do! It is somewhat dated nomenclature – indeed, its origins trace back to the 17th century.

The industry seems divided on the use of the ‘fancy’ term today, and many marketers refrain from using it when dealing directly with customers.

The importance of ‘keeping it simple’ and easy to understand is a lesson in communication as old as time.

After all, consumers are attracted to the innate beauty of the fancy colour diamonds, not the rigorous understanding of these natural wonders, which has been spearheaded by the Gemmological Institute of America (GIA) since the 1930s.

There are two sides to every story; however, and the language around these diamonds has been developed for a good reason. It’s a complex category, and many fine points must be understood.

Whether talking about diamonds, opals, or even marine wildlife, nomenclature is essential because it allows people worldwide to communicate unambiguously.

Ultimately, the choice is yours – fancy colour diamonds or coloured diamonds.

Regardless of which term you choose, perhaps the most important thing is that you’re aware of all the mitigating circumstances.

'Colour' or 'coloured'?

Fancy colour diamonds are one of many areas of debate regarding language in the jewellery industry.

For example, consider the subtle but distinct differences between ‘colour gemstones’ and ‘coloured gemstones.’ Both are used interchangeably by different sources within the jewellery industry, but they are far from alike!

When a gemstone is marketed as being ‘coloured’, there are connotations of treatment - given the suffix ‘-ed’. Consider these similar words with the same suffix: melted, twisted, mended, repaired, and painted. They all detail an action that influenced or altered an object.

This is particularly important when it comes to jewellery – as there is a significant difference between a gemstone or diamond that has colour and a diamond that has been coloured (treated).

That difference can be worth millions of dollars, as we’ve seen with the controversy surrounding fancy colour green diamonds.

Certificates or reports?

There’s a similar conversation to be had about the documentation that accompanies diamonds.

The use of ‘certificates’ or ‘certs’ is widespread; however, it's somewhat inaccurate. Diamond grading laboratories issue ‘reports’ and not certificates. It may seem like a minor point – but there’s an important distinction.

"There are two sides to every story; however, and the language around these diamonds has been developed for a good reason. It’s a complex category, and many fine points must be understood."

A certificate is defined as an “official document attesting to a fact.” A marriage certificate is evidence that a couple is married. A death certificate is evidence that someone has died.

On the other hand, a report is a “spoken or written account of something that one has observed, heard, done, or investigated.”

Laboratories provide a report of the analysis of a diamond or gemstone at a specific time. This is a crucial point to understand because, much like language, gemmology is also constantly changing.

Because definitions are subject to change in gemmology, as in any other realm of science, laboratories provide a report rather than a certificate. And I don’t have to remind you that diamond grading is part science and part ‘art’ – it is subjective. Two people can grade the same stone differently.

So, when a laboratory declares that a fancy colour diamond is fancy intense, for example, that is issued as a report and not a certificate.

Therefore, if, for example, the definition of fancy intense was later changed, a previously issued ‘certificate’ would be rendered inaccurate, whereas a ‘report’ would remain valid - it’s merely an observation of that diamond at that time compared with the relevant criteria.

Speak softly and carry a big stick

These intricacies may seem trivial to you; however, I assure you they're important.

Researchers have suggested that the English language is changing faster than ever because of the impact of social media.

Communication is at the heart of all human interactions; language is how we build relationships and communities.

Relationship building is vital to success for all members of the jewellery – large or small – and if you fall behind when it comes to language, you risk losing the ability to forge partnerships with your contemporaries.

Oh, and please don’t get me started on lab-created diamonds! Or should I say, lab-grown, or synthetic diamond or even man-made diamonds?

That’s an argument for another time!

More reading:
Gratitude is an attitude – so don’t forget to say thanks
We cannot direct the wind - but we can adjust the sails
Preaching unity while setting fire to the olive branch
Veritas odit moras – truth hates delay
Common sense for common purpose, please!
 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Angela Han

Publisher  • Jeweller Magazine


Angela Han has more than a decade’s experience in the jewellery and luxury goods industry, having worked in all sectors from retail and manufacturing to design and supply. She has been with Jeweller for over ten years and has extensive experience in print and digital media publishing, business-to-business communications and strategy. 

RR Diamonds Australia
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