One little word can make a significant difference.
When it comes to diamonds, that word is “natural.”
The Federal Trade Commission recently removed the word “natural” from its definition of a diamond. Why is this seemingly minor change causing major upheaval in the industry?
“Not a Necessary Attribute”
In previous versions of the Federal Trade Commission’s Jewelry Guides, part of the definition of a diamond read, “a natural mineral consisting essentially of pure carbon crystallized in the isometric system.”
The Diamond Foundry, which produces lab grown diamonds, urged the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to eliminate the pesky adjective. They argued that the fact that a diamond exists “in the soil of Earth” is “not a necessary attribute.”
The FTC agreed with the manufacturer, saying that since the stones have “essentially” the same optical, physical, and chemical properties as natural stones, they are, in fact, diamonds. They even went a step further and removed the term “synthetic” as a descriptor of approved lab-grown diamonds.
Diamond Value and Consumer Confusion
The diamond community is not pleased with the changes. Says Rapaport Group Chairman Martin Rapaport, the changes “focus on physical properties instead of scarcity and value differentiation, which are key factors in product definition and vital for consumer protection.” In other words, “natural” is key in diamond value.
Ernest Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses agrees: “Our paramount aim is always consumer confidence. [Allowing lab-grown companies to use new descriptors] might provide too much latitude in their marketing claims.”
The FTC does require lab-grown companies to disclose that their products are not mined. Still, many worry about creating confusion among customers.
Natural stones are forged over millennia; the Earth working its magic to create diamonds of rare and exceptional beauty. While there is nothing “wrong” with a lab-grown diamond, the bottom line is that it’s just not… natural.