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Consumers often confuse synthetic diamonds with fake diamonds. Image courtesy of AOTC
Consumers often confuse synthetic diamonds with fake diamonds. Image courtesy of AOTC

Drop 'synthetic' label for diamonds, says report

A new report has found that many consumers remain confused about the origin of synthetic diamonds, attributing one of the reasons to the use of the word “synthetic”.

The Diamond Growing Greenhouses report, prepared by Frost & Sullivan, was conducted in order to investigate consumer perceptions on synthetic diamonds within the gemstone and jewellery industry.

It outlined the findings of a survey conducted in six countries (the United States, United Kingdom, India, China, Japan and Germany) and identified areas that needed to be addressed in order to move the synthetic – or “grown” – diamond industry forward.

According to the study, grown diamonds are often confused with simulants or fake diamonds due to the use of the descriptive “synthetic”. While the term has widely been used and promoted to describe lab-created diamonds, the report stated that it was technically inaccurate and misleading.

“The term ‘synthetic’ might have different meanings in different contexts, but in the context of a diamond it leads to a perception of it being ‘fake’ or ‘not real’,” the report noted.

When asked to choose what “synthetic diamond” meant to them, 94 per cent of respondents – who had been provided with education on grown diamonds during the course of the study – chose the descriptors “fake/artificial diamonds” or “man-made diamond, but not identical to original”.  

“The survey responses indicate that respondents believe that the terms ‘grown’ and ‘cultured’ diamonds serve both the aims of disclosure as well as education about the diamond’s origin, while the term ‘synthetic’ detracts from the same and is misleading,” the report stated.

Other findings

The report emphasised the importance of educating consumers on grown diamonds, with the survey showing that a clear understanding of what a grown diamond was “substantially increases a customer’s propensity to buy [them]”.

It also indicated that the guaranteed origin of grown diamonds could be a strong selling point, but that when retailers were selling mined diamonds alongside grown, consumers expected them to be completely transparent about it.

“There is a potential for this industry to coexist with the mined diamond industry and to increase the overall pie for all with a wider market penetration over the next decade,” concluded the report. 

More reading: Coloured Diamonds Report
Frost & Sullivan is a US-based research and consulting firm that “enables clients to accelerate growth and achieve best-in-class positions in growth, innovation and leadership”. The full Diamond Growing Greenhouses report can be downloaded here.

The Diamond Growing Greenhouses study was a follow-up of a report prepared by Frost & Sullivan last year. The 2013 Grown Diamonds – Shaping future of diamond industry report assessed the impact of recent enhancements in diamond-growing technology. 
CIBJO rulings
The report contradicts CIBJO’s rulings on the matter. As the world’s governing body for the jewellery industry, CIBJO stipulates that terms which set out to disguise a stone’s true origin, or mislead consumers, should not be used.
CIBJO describes itself as the “United Nations of the jewellery business”, and it publishes a definitive set of grading standards and nomenclature for diamonds, coloured gemstones, pearls, precious metals, and gemmological laboratories known as “Blue Books”. 
The Diamond Book states, “The fact that a synthetic diamond is wholly or partially synthetic shall be disclosed. Only the term 'synthetic', 'laboratory-created' or 'laboratory-grown' shall be used to describe synthetic diamonds and these terms shall be equally as conspicuous and immediately precede the word “diamond”. 
It goes on to conclude, “Any terms that are designed to disguise the fact that a stone is a synthetic diamond, or that mislead the consumer shall not be used. Specifically: The words 'real', genuine and natural or the term cultured shall not be used to describe any synthetic diamond.”
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