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The definition of diamonds has been changed in the US Federal Trade Commission's guide books
The definition of diamonds has been changed in the US Federal Trade Commission's guide books

Diamond definition amended to include synthetics

The US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has amended its definition of “diamond” to include the synthetics, a move that synthetic diamond laboratories have applauded, while diamond miners and manufacturers are not impressed.

The word “natural” has been omitted in the new definition while regulations in marketing diamonds have been altered to refer to synthetics as “gem” and “gemstones” while requiring they specify laboratory production.

The FTC’s previous definition of a diamond read: “A diamond is a natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.” The words “gem” and “gemstones” when marketing the synthetic version were banned prior to the amendment.

Ada Diamonds CEO Jason Payne applauded FTC’s decision to lift the ban on the use of the word “gemstone” and said the move had cemented synthetics’ place on the diamond market.

“The mined-diamond industry has, in the past, successfully lobbied the FTC to ban these words from the lab diamond lexicon. Now the FTC has reversed that decision,” he told Forbes.

“’Synthetic’ is a scientifically inaccurate term for a man-made diamond,” he added. “Why? Because you can’t synthesise an element; there is no such thing as synthetic gold or platinum or carbon or diamond.”

Martin Rapaport was less enthusiastic on Rapaport News and stated the changes to diamond definitions “focus on physical properties instead of scarcity and value differentiation, which are key factors in product definition and vital for consumer protection.”

In its statement, the FTC claimed a change to the definition of diamonds was necessary due to the production of synthetic diamonds on the market, which did not exist when it was originally defined.

“When the commission first used this definition in 1956, there was only one type of diamond product on the market — natural stones mined from the earth,” the FTC stated.

“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.”

In response, Diamond Producers Association (DPA) issued a press release stating it welcomed the announcement following six years of consultation with the industry.

"This document plays an important role, alongside other applicable norms and standards, in protecting consumers from deceitful communication by marketers. The DPA commits to respecting the FTC Guides – as it has always done – in its communication, and in particular as it pertains to the way it describes synthetic diamonds – diamonds created in a laboratory – and natural diamonds. We note and welcome synthetic diamond manufacturers’ public pledge to respect the new guides,” it stated.

At this stage it is unclear what the ramifications will be for CIBJO (World Jewellery Confederation) and its Blue Books and/or whether there will be any changes to Australian nomenclature.

More reading
Local jewellers respond to De Beers’ synthetic diamonds
De Beers enters synthetic diamond market with new collection
Committee sets sights on securing diamond reputation
Synthetic diamond discovered with fake inscription

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Sunday, 26 May, 2019 05:21pm
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