The World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) has proposed it work with other industry groups to consult with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its fiercely debated diamond terminology.
Industry leaders attending the October 15 to 17 CIBJO Congress in Bogotá, Colombia, called for the sector to relay a clearer message to consumers when marketing diamonds, whether natural or laboratory-grown.
“[Delegates] support the proposal that CIBJO works alongside other industry organizations engaging with the US FTC regarding the newly issued guidelines,” said a resolution the CIBJO Congress passed unanimously on October 17.
The CIBJO Blue Book of standards and nomenclature for the diamond industry was left unchanged despite the revised guidelines the FTC released in July, which removed the word “natural” from its definition of a diamond. FTC’s revision appeared to put the body at odds with CIBJO’s standards.
Some industry leaders at the congress called for diamond trade groups to support the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and lobby the FTC to change its guidelines.
Laboratory-grown diamonds have the potential to disrupt the gem-and-jewelry business, but also could help it grow by opening up markets that were previously more difficult to penetrate, CIBJO president Gaetano Cavalieri observed.
“Our objective is not to alienate the producers of such materials, but rather to welcome them into our community,” he said in a keynote speech on October 15. “At the same time, we seek to protect the established diamond industry, and in particular their stakeholders in developing countries, for whom diamond mining is a source of livelihood and economic opportunity.”
Diamantaires at the CIBJO Congress said they had been wary of rewriting the carefully formulated definition of diamonds in the Blue Book in response to regulatory changes in one country, in a reference to the US FTC guidelines.
The real focus needs to be on relaying clear messages to consumers about diamonds, noted Alex Popov, president of the Moscow diamond bourse. “I stand by the Blue Book,” he told Rapaport News. “The important thing is for the industry to be able to line up and provide a simple, clear message to consumers about diamonds.”
Ernie Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), said he favored moves by industry groups to pursue a dialogue with the FTC, adding that he also backed any initiatives to facilitate a discussion between natural and lab-grown diamond producers.
“Do we continue to engage with the FTC to get them to change their mind? Yes, we have to,” he commented. “It is [also] important that the industry engages with synthetic producers.”
Stéphane Fischler, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), told Rapaport News his organization was prepared to provide cross-industry support to continue the dialogue with the FTC.
Diamantaires expressed concerns over what they termed “piggy-backing” by lab-grown producers on the natural-diamond trade to sell their product, while failing to acknowledge the support that the natural-diamond sector gives to local communities.
“This is going to be a long, drawn-out scenario,” Blom concluded.
The 2019 CIBJO Congress will take place in Bahrain, organizers said.
Image: A craftsman prepares to place a diamond in jewelry. (Luibov Luganskaia/Shutterstock)