The Common Online Distortion the JVC Needs to Look At

The Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s announcement that it will conduct extensive monitoring of jewelry sites is most welcome. When one surfs the web and sees jewelry ads, it sometimes still seems to be the Wild West out there; there was a reason why policing the Internet was the JVC’s top vote getter from members in a recent survey about what programs they’d want instituted.

The most common misrepresentation I’ve seen: Sites that sell simulants that are inaccurately described as synthetics or lab-created diamonds. This has been happening for years: The JVC has looked at this in the past and says it will indeed be a focus of the new program.

As most of my readers know, simulants, under the Federal Trade Commission guides, cannot be called synthetic diamonds, lab-created diamonds, or man-made diamonds. There is a good reason for this: They are not the same thing. Synthetics—aka lab-grown diamonds and man-made diamonds—are chemically identical to natural diamonds but are not created in nature. By contrast, diamond simulants are look-alikes such as CZ and moissanite. Chemically, they have little in common with diamonds, beside the fact that they look like diamonds.

And yet, we still see companies that proclaim they sell lab-made diamonds, but also admit their products “DO NOT test positive from a diamond tester and they would determine it is a simulated diamond.” Or e-tailers that tell consumers that “Simulated Diamonds are also known as Lab Grown Diamonds, Lab Created Diamonds, and Man Made Diamonds.” (As we have just discussed, no.) 

These aren’t just fringe businesses; some claim prominent real estate on Google AdWords. In fact, when I search for lab-grown diamonds, I get links for Gemesis, Brilliant Earth, D.Nea, and Robbins Brothers—all companies that sell genuine lab-grown diamonds. But mostly I see sites that sell simulants, although their ad copy declares they sell “synthetics,” and they have URLs with the words lab and diamonds in them. (Some do apparently offer a limited inventory of created gems.)

There are also descriptions that might be considered legally compliant—and possibly outside JVC’s mandate—but still arguably don’t do a great job of informing the public. For instance, is the term lab-created diamond simulants technically accurate? I guess—assuming they really were created in a lab—but one could also see how it would confuse a buyer who doesn’t understand the precise difference between simulant and synthetic. The same is true for another frequently used descriptor: diamond simulant gemstones.   

This is an area that requires not just greater enforcement, but additional legal clarification as to what’s acceptable. The JVC has said the Federal Trade Commission will be looking at this when it revises its jewelry guides. My suggestion is that the word simulant no longer be considered adequate to describe a product. Instead, companies should be required to inform buyers what kind of simulant it is—i.e., CZ, moissanite, coated CZ, etc.

Hopefully, this new initiative can go a long way toward stopping at least the most egregious offenders. I ask readers: What kind of misleading jewelry ads do you frequently see on the Internet?

JCK News Director