“Cultured” War

There was recently an article in the Legal Times on the JVC’s “cultured” petition – which includes the interesting news that JVC has apparently registered a lobbyist on the issue. (If you don’t want to register for the site, use bugmenot.)

What’s been interesting in this whole battle is how certain elements of the “natural” industry want to use the word “synthetic,” which of course is the most derogatory, negative word possible, while the lab-grown industry wants to use the word “cultured,” which is the nicest, most benign word possible. And yet, there is a middle ground, and the Legal Times, to its discredit, barely mentions it. The terms “lab-grown,” “man-made” and “(company)-created” have all been ruled acceptable by the FTC, and clearly inform the consumer what the material is. If the word “cultured” is disallowed, the lab-grown people will almost surely use one of those terms. And, even now, Gemesis does uses both “cultured” and “lab-grown.”

Personally, I agree with the JVC petition that “cultured” should be disallowed, simply because most consumers do not know what “cultured” means, and the diamond-growing process is not analogous to the pearl-culturing process. I don’t think “cultured” is a horrible term, but, as the GIA has said, the others are “better terms.” But if I want to be consistent, I also have to admit that the word is “synthetic” is also confusing to consumers, and certainly many hucksters have taken advantage of that, calling CZs synthetic stones.

So, from now on, in a decision made by my own personal editorial board, I will try and use the word “synthetic” a little less, and transition to “lab-grown” and “man-made.” (“Cultured” is still up in the air, pending the FTC’s decision.) I won’t give up the word “synthetic,” simply because it’s commonly used in the industry, but it won’t be my term of choice. Maybe all these years of the lab-grown manufacturers’ complaints have finally gotten through.

JCK News Director