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Articles from DIAMONDS BY TYPE - SYNTHETIC / LAB-CREATED (118 Articles)

Synthetic diamonds legitimate but different jewellery product category

We should not fight the synthetic diamond manufacturers, but rather differentiate their product from natural diamonds says GAETANO CAVALIERI.

The CIBJO Congress, the annual gathering of national associations and other major jewellery industry bodies, closed its proceedings in Bogotá, Colombia, on October 17. Developments that have taken place over the past year usually crowd the Congress’s agenda, and one that received considerable attention during the 2018 event was the publication in June by the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) of its Guides for the Jewellery, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries.

In particular, the decision by the FTC to remove the word ‘natural’ from its diamond definition generated a great deal of discussion.

The FTC’s release of the revised Guides five months earlier had caught many in the industry off guard, and the initial reaction of some was almost of disbelief. However, a careful examination of the document revealed that, in practical terms, very little had changed, and the apparent victory of the synthetic diamond manufacturers may well prove to be a pyrrhic one.

Readers will note that I just used the adjective ‘synthetic’ as a descriptor, which is not recommended but, nonetheless, also not prohibited under the FTC’s new regime.

"We should not fight the synthetic diamond manufacturers, but rather differentiate their product from natural diamonds"

Two observations made during the CIBJO Congress by Tiffany Stevens, president and CEO of the Jewelers’ Vigilance Committee in the United States, and Sara Yood, JVC’s senior counsel, are worth noting.

The first is that the FTC Guides are not a set of professional industry standards on a par with the CIBJO Blue Books and the 2015 ISO (International Organisation for Standardisation) diamond definition.

They primarily are designed to protect the American consumer from misleading or confusing marketing information, and as such may sometimes deviate from what would seem scientific fact.

This could be a way of explaining why the more broadly characterised diamond is still referred to as a mineral, even though a mineral, by definition, can only have been mined from the earth.

The second observation is that, had the FTC not removed the word ‘natural’ from its diamond definition, synthetic diamond manufacturers could have claimed that the Guides do not pertain to them. Consequently, now that they are clearly included in the document, synthetic diamond manufacturers have no choice but to abide by its rulings.

These include not being able to refer to their product as diamonds, without clearly specifying that they are man-made, nor use such terms as ‘real’, ‘genuine’, ‘precious’, ‘semi-precious’ and, of course, ‘natural’. It is for this reason that the man-made diamond suppliers eventually may come to consider the cost of their apparent accomplishment to be considerably more than they originally had assumed.

Already before the start of the 2018 Congress, the CIBJO Diamond Commission had decided the best reaction to the new FTC Guides was no reaction at all. Our diamond definition has not been changed, and indeed the possibility of change was not even put up for debate.

According to the CIBJO Blue Book, the “diamond is a mineral which has been formed completely by nature without human interference during its formation.”

This is not to say that we deny or even question the legitimacy or viability of synthetic diamonds, or whatever the term is that they legally are referred to. In fact, our stated intention is to provide an equal place at the table for them, as a separate product category.

Recent moves by De Beers, and particularly those related to its Lightbox Jewelry man-made diamond collection will, I believe, lead to synthetic diamonds becoming a sizeable market segment catering predominantly to the high-end fashion jewellery market.

In the meantime, our primary strategy should not be to fight the synthetic diamond manufacturers, but rather to differentiate their products from natural diamonds. It will require the proper use of industry nomenclature, the development of inexpensive detection technology or procedures, the cooperation of government, and a good deal of marketing and public information.

Our industry is a big tent. There is room for all of us.



'The Great Diamond Debate' Contents » 

Innovation vs Disruption: Spectators don't win games
Coleby Nicholson, managing editor of Jeweller
Diamonds and Youth: Millennials and Gen Z drive sales
Predicting a synthetic future
Garry Holloway, owner Holloway Diamonds
Lab-created diamond jewellery market to grow to US$15B by 2035
Paul Zimnisky, - indepdendent analyst


Gaetano Cavalieri

President • CIBJO

Gaetano Cavalieri is president CIBJO (Confédération Internationale de la Bijouterie, Joaillerie, Orfèvrerie des Diamants) the body that unites national jewellery and gemstone associations from more than 40 countries around the world.

Stuller Inc

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