Earlier during the week of 1st April, news broke that the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) had sent letters to eight companies warning them that their advertisements for lab-grown diamond jewelry or diamond simulants (CZ, moissanite, etc.) could be deceptive.
The distribution of these letters comes less than a year after the commission’s long-awaited overhaul of the Jewelry Guides, the FTC-created rulebook that outlines the terms marketers should, and shouldn’t, use to describe jewelry to consumers.
When the new Jewelry Guides dropped last summer, it seemed, to me anyway, that many lab-grown diamond companies perceived the revisions to be a big victory for them, perhaps bigger than it actually was. They’ve since gone a little overboard with their marketing, either thinking that it was allowed or that nobody was watching or would notice.
But that, apparently, is not the case.
The FTC is paying attention and is interpreting the revised guides more strictly than some had expected, including Jewelers Vigilance Committee President and CEO Tiffany Stevens, whose organization is tasked with (among many other things) keeping the industry’s advertising in check.
Stevens told me in an email Thursday that, “We are extremely encouraged that the FTC is putting focus on our industry in this way at this time. The guides had not been updated since the ‘90s, and in our conversations with the FTC, we emphasized that the update really wasn’t complete until they took some enforcement action to demonstrate the meaning and limits of the new guides.
“We were seeing evidence of some players really creating their own reality and running wild beyond any reasonable interpretation of the new guides. We would reach out to stem the action and also see incidents in our mediation practice, but there is nothing like having such a loud and clear action from the federal government itself.”
All this being said, I thought in light of this week’s events, now would be a good time for a refresher on the FTC’s Jewelry Guides as they pertain to man-made diamonds and simulants.