JVC Calls for Changes in FTC Gemstone, Pearl, and Diamond Guides

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee and other organizations and companies have asked the Federal Trade Commission to add new rules for gemstones, metals, and synthetic diamonds to its jewelry Guides.

The groups made the request in a submission to the Federal Trade Commission filed in September. The FTC is now weighing possible changes to its jewelry Guides.

One request may appear somewhat controversial: Asking the FTC to forbid the word cultured for lab-grown diamonds. In 2008, the agency said the term was acceptable, if used with another modifier. The groups now want the FTC to reconsider that decision.

Among the requests:

  • The JVC wants the Guides amended to have certain “varietal names” for gemstones listed as deceptive. “There is no such thing as either ‘yellow emerald’ or ‘green amethyst,’ but sellers use the terms to capitalize on the cachet of emerald and amethyst—even though they are selling something else, albeit of the same underlying mineral species,” the filing says.
  • The organizations and companies would like the Guides amended to require disclosure of pearl dying.
  • They also request that composite rubies, including those infused with lead-glass, be described as imitation, manufactured, composite, or simulated ruby. The same would go for corundum.
  • The term mark, as currently used in the Guides, has different meanings, the JVC argues—used by some to mean a stamp, and by others to mean a stamp and tag description. “We recommend correcting this ambiguity by removing the word ‘mark,’ and using in its place the terms ‘quality stamp’ or ‘description’ or both, depending on the context,” the submission says.
  • The filing also calls for an amendment that covers products with new metal alloys that use less than the standard minimum amounts for precious metals (e.g., less than 10 karats for gold).  The amendment would let marketers say the product contains a precious metal, as long as they also disclose the quality, by percentage, of metal in the product.
  • The submission notes that the historically high prices of precious metals have led to an increase in products that use a surface layer of a more expensive metal over a less expensive one. But currently, the Guides only discuss this in the context of gold and silver. The submission recommends a “unified approach that would encompass all precious metals and coatings.”
  • The groups request that when a product uses multiple precious metals, the sellers be required to list the metals in the order of their weight in the product, on the quality stamp or other descriptions.
  • As mentioned above, the groups want the term cultured to only be used for organic purposes, like in pearls. They say the prior ruling is “not in the interest of consumers.”

The full submission can be seen here. It was signed by representatives of the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America, Jewelers of America, the American Gem Society, Zale Corp., Sterling Jewelers, De Beers Group, Richline, the American Gem Trade Association, the Diamond Manufacturers and Importers Association of America, the Fashion Jewelry & Accessories Trade Association, CIBJO, the Diamond Council of America, Platinum Guild International, Palladium Alliance International, Honora, and Jewelry Television.