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FTC Removes ‘Natural’ From Its Definition of a Diamond, Makes Other Changes to Jewelry Guides

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The guidance helps prevent companies from making deceptive claims. 

The Federal Trade Commission has amended its Jewelry Guides, which are designed to help businesses avoid making deceptive claims about precious metal, pewter, diamond, gemstone and pearl products.

The guides includes new provisions about composite gemstone products, man-made gemstones, varietals, “cultured” diamonds and treatments to pearls, FTC notes on its website. Other changes relate to the surface application of precious metals, below-threshold precious metal alloys, and products containing more than one metal.

The agency explained: “To reflect changes in the marketplace and to streamline compliance, the FTC has deleted two provisions that discussed the use of the word ‘gem,’ removed a section on misleading illustrations, and eliminated the word ‘natural’ from the definition of diamond in Section 23.12(a).”

The guides’ previous definition of a diamond said, in part, that a diamond is “a natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.”

The Diamond Foundry asked the FTC to remove “natural” from the definition, contending that “the fact that diamonds exist in the soil of Earth” is “not a necessary attribute.”

The FTC agreed.

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The agency stated: “When the Commission first used this definition in 1956,432 there was only one type of diamond product on the market – natural stones mined from the earth. 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.”

Meanwhile, the FTC said said the term “cultured” should not be used without qualification. The agency’s revised guides say marketers “may use the term non-deceptively when qualified and suggest possible qualifications,” and they remove the word “synthetic” from the examples of possible qualifications. Possible qualifications to the word “cultured” include “laboratory-created,” “laboratory-grown,” and “(manufacturer-name)-created,” according to the FTC.

 

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