Tom Chatham: FTC Ruling Vindicates Father

Tom Chatham, president and chief executive officer of Chatham Created Gems, in a prepared statement, says the recent federal Trade Commission ruling concerning the identification of lab-grown gems vindicates his father, who 49 years ago was forced to change the name of his company.

In the most recent case, the FTC ruled that there is insufficient evidence to establish that the qualified use of the term “cultured diamonds” is deceptive or unfair when describing lab-created gemstones.

The ruling was based on a petition filed by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and 10 jewelry industry trade associations, asking the FTC to amend the “Guides” for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries to state that it is deceptive or unfair to use the term “cultured” to describe laboratory-created gemstones, even when the man-made gemstones possess essentially the same optical, chemical, and physical properties of natural, mined gemstones.

Tom Chatham, like his father, has long fought industry attempts to rename the way his company markets lab-created gems. His company’s statement reads as follows:

In 1959, the FTC served Carroll Chatham and his marketing firm, Cultured Gemstones Inc. of New York, with a cease and desist order forbidding the use of the term “CHATHAM CULTURED EMERALD”. Now, 49 years later, the same government agency, albeit with new personnel, unanimously concurred that the term Cultured Diamond is not in itself deceptive when used to describe a laboratory grown diamond (or gemstone) having essentially identical properties to the natural counterpart.

This conclusion was reached by the FTC hearing examiners in a 4-0 decision, something Carroll Chatham never got to hear. Unfortunately, facing huge legal bills and the court ordered examination of his secret process for growing emerald, (he refused) Carroll Chatham did not fight the original order and signed this trumped up “confession” without penalty. However, the newly coined word CREATED, one suggested by the judge himself, was fought again by the JVC and their constituents. This time Carroll Chatham refused to sign, went to court for 4 years in DC and won. However, it was a hollow victory because it forever left undecided the issue of “cultured” and its appropriateness.

Today’s decision was brought on once again by the actions of the JVC and a group of industry organizations, who had petitioned the FTC to ban the use of “Cultured Diamond” in the FTC jewelry industry guides. The ruling stated, “the commission cannot find that the use of the term “cultured diamond” is unfair.”

Tom Chatham, president and CEO of Chatham Created Gems, Inc. stated, “we are considering the impact and possible changes to our advertising. Even a corporate name change is not out of the question at this time.” “Everything we have done for the past 50 years has been based on this threat of renewed litigation. My father would have been pleased to see this outcome, finally.”