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Sellers of Lab-Grown and Simulated Diamonds Get FTC Warning

It says their ads may be deceptive.

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The Federal Trade Commission has sent eight letters to marketers of simulated or lab-grown diamonds warning that their online advertisements may deceive consumers.

In the letters, FTC staff point out examples where the advertising might imply that a simulated diamond is a lab-created or mined diamond, or that a lab-created diamond is a mined diamond. They also note examples where required disclosures about the source of the diamonds are not near the individual product descriptions.

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To help educate the companies, the letters caution them not to use the name of any precious stone, including diamonds, to describe a simulated or lab-created stone, unless the name is immediately proceeded by a clear and conspicuous disclosure that the product is not a mined stone.

The staff also encourages companies selling simulated diamonds to avoid describing their products in a way that may falsely imply that they have the same optical, physical and chemical properties of mined diamonds.

The letters also note that similar non-deceptive disclosures are required when advertising jewelry containing precious stones other than diamonds, including emeralds and rubies, as well as pearls.

Several letters also note that the companies have advertised their jewelry as “eco-friendly,” “eco-conscious” or “sustainable,” and that such terms can be interpreted to imply certain specific environmental benefits.

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Sellers must have a reasonable basis for making such claims for any products, and the claims should be adequately qualified to avoid deception. The letters admonish the companies not to use unqualified claims such as “eco-friendly,” “eco-conscious” or “sustainable,” as it is unlikely that they can substantiate all reasonable interpretations of these claims.

The letters note that in July 2018, the FTC issued updated guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries that provide marketers with information on how to make non-deceptive representations about jewelry and related products, including mined, lab-created and simulated diamonds.

Failure to follow the guides, the staff warn, may result in enforcement actions if the FTC determines the companies engaged in unfair or deceptive acts or practices. Such actions could result in civil penalties if the company engaged in practices knowing that the commission has already deemed them deceptive in earlier litigation.

In each letter, FTC staff ask the companies to advise them within 10 days within receipt of steps they plan to take to revise their marketing so that it follows the Jewelry Guides and therefore complies with the FTC Act.

Over the years, INSTORE has won 80 international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact INSTORE's editors at editor@instoremag.com.

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The Big Survey 2019: Top Jewelry Brands Revealed

This year marks a three-peat.

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WE ASKED OUR 802 Big Survey respondents, “What are the three best performing brand-name jewelry lines that you carry?”, and these were the top 20 brands mentioned. Interestingly, Gabriel & Co. and Stuller made it a three-peat, claiming the top two spots in our rankings for the third year in a row. Allison-Kaufman moved up a spot from 4 to 3, and Simon G. was a big leaper, jumping all the way to number 5 from 20 in 2018. (Total votes included in parentheses)

2019 RANK / BRAND2018 RANKCHANGE IN RANK
1. Gabriel & Co. (64)1
2. Stuller (41)2
3. Allison-Kaufman (29)4up 1
4. Hearts On Fire (18)3down 1
5. Simon G. (15)20up 15
6 tie. Pandora (14)6
6 tie. Ostbye (14)10up 4
8 tie. John Hardy (13)9up 1
8 tie. Lashbrook (13)15up 7
10 tie. Benchmark (12)8down 2
10 tie. Frederic Duclos (12)11up 1
12 tie. Roberto Coin (11)23up 11
12 tie. Sylvie Collection (11)22up 10
12 tie. ASHI Diamonds (11)23up 11
15 tie. Berco (10)23up 8
15 tie. Tacori (10)outside top 25 
17 tie. ArtCarved (9)7down 10
17 tie. Le Vian (9)outside top 25 
17 tie. Officina Bernardi (9)outside top 25 
17 tie. SDC Creations (9)15down 2
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Jewelry Brand Opens 2 Brick-and-Mortar Stores Following $13M Investment Round

They’re located in New York.

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AUrate, a New York based direct-to-consumer fine jewelry brand, plans to use part of the $13 million that it recently raised to build a brick-and-mortar presence.

The company is opening two permanent stores in New York City, Women’s Wear Daily reports. They’ll be located in SoHo and on Madison Avenue.

They’ll “feature experiential technology that introduces consumers to the raw materials and production methods enlisted to create Aurate jewelry,” according to the report.

They were set to open Oct. 12.

AUrate announced in late June that it had completed a $13 million investment round. With the Series A funding, led by Michael Platt of BlueCrest Capital, the company said it planned to expand its online and offline operations and direct investment in technology. Additional participants included Point King Capital, Arab Angel Fund and Drake Management.

AUrate soft-launched in 2015, when co-founders Bouchra Ezzahraoui and Sophie Kahn held full-time jobs at Goldman Sachs & Marc Jacobs, respectively.

The brand was officially launched in 2017, with both online and offline stores. The co-founders went on to raise $2.6M in a seed round.

Read more at Women’s Wear Daily

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De Beers Lab-Grown Diamonds to Make Brick-and-Mortar Debut

It’s a test run that will begin this month.

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Lab-grown diamonds from De Beers-owned Lightbox will soon be available at certain Bloomingdale’s and Reeds Jewelers stores.

It’s a test run that will begin this month, Forbes reports. The effort marks Lightbox’s brick-and-mortar debut.

Lightbox pieces are lab-grown diamonds set in accessibly priced fashion jewelry. They’ve been sold since September 2018 online and in pop-up shops.

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The pieces will be sold at Bloomingdale’s 59th Street flagship in New York and its San Francisco location store. And they’ll be available at 30 Reeds Jewelers, primarily in the Southeast, Forbes reports.

The trial is expected to last as long as six months.

Lightbox debuted in 2018 with products priced from $200 for a quarter-carat stone to $800 for a one-carat stone. It started with pink, blue and white lab-grown diamonds in a selection of earring and necklace designs, and the company later said it was expanding the line with bracelets and stackable rings.

Bruce Cleaver, CEO of De Beers, said last year that Lightbox would “transform the lab-grown diamond sector by offering consumers a lab-grown product they have told us they want but aren’t getting: affordable fashion jewelry that may not be forever, but is perfect for right now.”

The move to brick-and-mortar is no surprise. Lightbox Managing Director Steve Coe announced at the JCK Las Vegas show in June that he expected to begin market testing the brand in retail stores this year. After the company’s $94 million plant in Gresham, OR, goes online in 2020, production will increase and the brand will be offered to a broad range of retailers by 2021. Color offerings and jewelry-design styles will likely be expanded as well.

Coe said consumer research has backed up the De Beers belief that laboratory-grown diamonds work best as fashion accessories for everyday wear, and not for significant occasions, such as engagement, for which consumers say they prefer natural diamonds.

Read more at Forbes

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