Blogs: Cutting Remarks

Understanding an Ad Watchdog’s Warning for Agape Diamonds


Last week, JCK ran a story about the National Advertising Division (NAD) of BBB National Programs—the marketing business’ self-policing arm—asking Agape Diamonds to modify its advertising, in response to a complaint from the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) about some Agape social media posts and product pages. A webpage cited in the complaint showed a “2.50Ct Antique-Style Round Cut Engagement Ring In 14K White Gold,” without disclosing that the stone is a non-diamond simulant.

One of our commenters questioned why describing the ring that way would be misleading. “Nowhere does it say that an engagement ring must [include] a natural diamond,” he wrote. “People have been getting engaged using rings set with gems other tha[n] diamonds [for ages].”

But Eric Unis, senior attorney for NAD, tells JCK that if the item doesn’t contain a natural gemstone, calling it an engagement ring is not enough. “When a particular piece is advertised, and a specific price is quoted, you have to be up-front about the origin of the stone,” he says. “Simulants and lab-grown diamonds need to be identified.

“What has traditionally been important, going back to the when the [Federal Trade Commission] Guides were first published decades ago, is that consumers get information about the origin of the products up-front in all forums,” he adds.

One issue raised by the NDC is that the company’s name is Agape Diamonds—and the word diamonds without a modifier signifies a natural stone, according to the Federal Trade Commission’s Guides for the Jewelry Industry. (Agape sells natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, and non-diamond simulants.)

Unis says the brand name “wasn’t what triggered” NAD’s action. “It was the depiction of the stones. If its name was just Agape and they just put up a piece without identifying it in a compliant way, that still would have been a problem.” Clear and conspicuous disclosure applies to social media ads and website product pages, he says.

He notes that NAD’s decision recommends marketers always include “the appropriate description (e.g., simulated or lab-grown) immediately preceding the word diamond or stone with equal conspicuousness, so as to clearly disclose the nature of the product and the fact that it is not a mined gemstone.”

“Everywhere you message, the necessary information needs to be communicated,” Unis says.

In its advertiser statement, Agape said it would comply with the decision. The Tampa, Fla.-based company did not respond to a request for comment.

(Photo by Getty Images)

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By: Rob Bates

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