IGDA Happy With FTC’s Revised Jewelry Guides

The International Grown Diamond Association (IGDA) has welcomed the revisions introduced by Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to its Jewelry Guides.

This revision, which is the Guides’ first major overhaul since 1996, "primarily acknowledges technological developments that have led to existence of diamonds that are formed both below and above the ground".

In a detailed statement explaining the changes, the FTC notes, “The Commission no longer defines a “diamond” by using the term “natural” because it is no longer accurate to define diamonds as “natural” when it is now possible to create products that have essentially the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as mined diamonds,” the IGDA said in a statement.

IGDA’s Secretary General, Richard Garard said, “The revisions to the FTC guides endorses the fact that a diamond is a diamond, whether from above or below the ground.”

The IGDA presented to the FTC office extensive consumer research material that clearly highlighted consumer confusion created by terms like ‘synthetic’ when used for lab grown diamonds that were absolutely 100% diamond. “The revised guides have now excluded ‘synthetic’, a clearly misleading term from the prescribed qualifiers, allowing marketers to use term “cultured” for marketing lab-grown diamonds while clearly conveying that it is not a mined stone,” said Garard.

In the revised FTC Guides, the Commission cautions marketers that it would be deceptive to use the terms “real,” “genuine,” “natural,” or “synthetic” to imply that a lab-grown diamond is not, in fact, an actual diamond, the IGDA said.

Garard also said, “The FTC revisions have taken an overall view of the industry, weighing it with consumer confidence and fairness. We believe the new Jewelry Guides, which align with 21st century facts, are critical for consumer clarity. They give mined and grown diamonds equal grounds to market their unique offerings to the customers, and customer gets legitimate diamond options and a right to choose.”

With respect to aligning with existing international standards, “the Commission declined to do so generally, explaining in its 2016 statement that, while it tries to harmonize its guidance with international standards when possible, it must base its guidance on Section 5 of the FTC Act. In contrast, many international standards are developed through an industry consensus-building process based not on Section 5’s standards for preventing deception and unfairness, but other considerations such as facilitating trade and promoting international cooperation. Those standards are thus not solely, or necessarily, based on protecting consumers from deceptive and unfair practices.”

The IGDA added that it is committed to "continue its work to ensure that the lab-grown diamond industry is fairly and honestly represented in all areas of consumer and trade marketing".