Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released final version revision to its widely watched jewelry guides, with a host of changes that impose new rules on how the trade can describe flow-grown colored stones, pearl treatments, and gemstone grape varieties. It also relaxes existing standards for lab-grown diamonds and metal alloys.
The changes, unanimously approved by the five-member commission, crown a six-year process of overhauling much-talked-about standards for marketing jewelry and gemstones. This revision marks the first major overhaul of the Guides in 22 years.
Among the notable changes adopted by the FTC:
There are new requirements for describing “composite” gemstones.
Marketers are now cautioned not to use an unqualified gemstone name like ruby when selling a flux or composite product. It also advises against using unqualified terms. composite [gemstone name], hybrid [gemstone name], Where made [gemstone name] unless the description specifies that the composite stone requires special care.
These rules have long been sought after by the colored stone industry.
“The problem with ruby products filled with lead glass was that no one disclosed the special care requirements,” says Sara Yood, senior counsel for the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC). “People would bring the stones home and they would collapse. “
The thresholds to call an alloy gold Where money have been eliminated
Previously, Guides prohibited the use of terms gold and money to describe a precious metal alloy that was less than 10k for gold or 925/1000 for silver.
The new guides remove these requirements. From now on gold less than 10k can be called gold if the marketing includes “an equally visible and precise disclosure of fineness in karats”. Likewise, alloys of less than 925 silver may be referred to as money if the term is immediately preceded by a clear and accurate PPT (parts per thousand) reading.
The agency decided not to change its guidelines for platinum alloys, writing that “unlike gold and silver, which have traditionally been mixed with base metals to create jewelry, consumers are expect platinum products to consist primarily of pure platinum. “
The guides also have a new section on mixed metal alloys, which prohibits deforming an alloy containing more than one metal. So, for example, he cautions that manufacturers should not describe a product as “platinum + silver,” if, by weight, it contains more silver than platinum.
When promoting mixed metal alloys, guides generally advise traders to list metals in order of relative weight, larger first. He adds that marketers can list metals in a different order if it is clear which metal is predominant. So, for example, Silver accented with 14k gold would be allowed.
“This rule will allow more different types of alloys,” Yood explains. “A good example would be Tiffany’s Rubedo. They are now allowed to call the gold and silver contained in the product.
Guides now include new rules for describing metallic coatings
The review advises against using terms like money Where platinum to describe a coated product unless the advertisement specifies that it is a coating. A similar rule already exists for gold.
In addition, when traders tout the precious metal coatings, they should ensure the durability of this product and indicate whether the coating is made of an alloy (less 24k gold, 925 PPT silver and platinum 950 PPT).
Guides now prohibit incorrect names of gem varieties.
The FTC now prohibits the use of incorrect “varietal” names, especially yellow emerald and green amethyst to describe prasiolite.
“It protects these precious stones,” Yood explains. “There was a manufacturer who was trying to use the term yellow emerald. Emerald is green.
FTC Now Requests Disclosure of Pearl Treatments
As with colored stones, manufacturers must now disclose treatments for pearls and cultured pearls if these treatments are not permanent, require special care, or affect the value of the pearl. This change was made to suit pearl dyeing, Yood says.
Changes in the way lab-grown diamonds can be marketed
The revision brings relatively significant changes in what is allowed with respect to the marketing of lab-grown diamonds – and these changes lean almost entirely towards the lab-grown sector.
In the past, guides listed the following approved descriptors for unexploited diamonds: created in laboratory, grown in laboratory, [manufacturer-name]-created, and synthetic.
The new guides still recommend the first three descriptions, although they no longer include synthetic. They also say that manufacturers can use other expressions if those terms “clearly and visibly indicate that the product is not a quarried stone”.
Some diamond producers had sought to add other terms, including [manufacturer-name]- grown up, foundry, created, and grown up, to the list of verbiage approved by the FTC. The commission declined to do so, arguing that no research exists on consumers’ understanding of the proposed terms.
However, it states that while the “suggested terms may be used in a non-misleading manner in the context (for example, in the context of an advertisement pointing out that the product is man-made), nothing prevents specialists in the marketing to do so “.
Interestingly, while the new guides don’t include any mention, for or against, of the term artificial, the Federal Register notice of the FTC uses it several times.
JVC President and CEO Tiffany Stevens, whose group has traditionally advocated for stricter standards on lab disclosure, admits the overhaul gives diamond producers a lot of leeway they previously lacked.
“It opens the door to new terms,” she says. “There is a little more leeway, but there are still solid limits. You cannot go too far because if you do, you will fail the standard. “
She adds that lab-grown sellers are still regulated by the FTC Green guides, who disapproves of terms like respectful of nature.
The new guides also remove a rule that prohibited calling a lab-grown stone a gem. And, in fact, throughout its registry notice, the FTC refers to “man-made gemstones.”
The review also apparently settles a long-standing industry debate over whether the term cultured diamonds is suitable for laboratory-grown diamonds. In 2008, in response to feverish lobbying from natural and laboratory-grown areas, the commission decided that cultivated could be used to describe a created stone, but only if it is “immediately processed, with equal visibility” by one of the suggested modifiers.
The new revision, however, loosens this focus considerably. Although he still recommends against using the term cultivated on his own he now says that cultivated can be used even if it is not immediately preceded by one of the approved descriptors. However, global marketing must always “make it clear that the product is not a quarried stone”.
Diamond producers had also sought to ban the use of the word synthetic to describe their products, arguing that consumers equate it to simulants like cubic zirconia. While the FTC has now crossed synthetic from his list of suggested descriptors, he refused to ban its use outright, arguing that the term – commonly used by gemologists and scientists – is not misleading in any case. But he found it misleading to use the term synthetic to “suggest that a competitor’s lab-grown diamond is not a real diamond.”
Perhaps more importantly, the FTC cautions marketers not to use “the terms real, authentic, natural, Where synthetic to imply that a lab-grown diamond… is not, in fact, a real diamond. This could potentially apply to many commercial communications.
Guides continue to ban the use of terms real, natural, and authentic to describe lab-grown diamonds, but the FTC statement says it is willing to reconsider that if it receives new consumer perception studies.
Finally, the FTC says the same rules that apply to man-made diamonds should apply to man-made colored stones.
In another apparent loss to the mined diamond industry, the FTC removed the word Natural from his description of a diamondbecause, he says, diamonds can also be grown in the lab.
Stevens says it’s unclear at this time what this particular revision will mean in practice, as the Guides still require “clear, prominent and understandable” disclosure of the origin of a lab-grown diamond.
The FTC also declined to make a variety of changes that some in the industry had called for, including a ruling on terms such as blue-white, ethical, conflict-free, Handmade, and Natural for processed gemstones and broadening advice on grading and valuations.
The FTC’s Federal Register notice for revised guides, officially known as Guides for the Precious Metals, Jewelry, and Pewter Industries, can be viewed. here. His detailed statement explaining the changes can be seen here.
Follow JCK on Instagram: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Twitter: @jckmagazine
Follow JCK on Facebook: @jckmagazine