One of the biggest stories this month, which can be read on page six of the November magazine, centred on an Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) case that saw a Cornwall jeweller ruled against for failing to properly market its gemstone products.
Ethica Diamonds sells lab-grown diamonds (chemically identical to natural stones) as well as artificial diamond products (made of cubic zirconia or other simulant materials).
Informed by the NAJ’s ‘Diamond Terminology Guideline’ document, the ASA ruled that the company failed to clearly identify either product, confusing lab-grown diamonds and natural stones, and also lab-growns and other artificial diamonds.
It is not my place to judge whether the decision was correct, or whether the NAJ document is impartial in its stance on lab-grown diamonds and thus fit for use in cases like this. The story does, however, raise two important questions for the industry.
More immediately, companies retailing man-made diamonds needs to ask: am I adhering to current advertising requirements?
Whether you agree with the current state of affairs or not, a look at the ASA’s ruling on this case and the NAJ’s ‘Diamond Terminology Guideline’ will allow businesses to learn from Ethica’s mistakes and avoid a similar fate.
The larger question, and certainly the tougher question, is whether the ASA has made the correct decision, and if the NAJ document is appropriately unbiased.
It focuses more on limiting the lexicon surrounding man-made stones than on mined diamonds.
While many of the suggestions make sense – not using the word ‘natural’ in describing lab-growns, for example – some seem unnecessary.
One of the more questionable suggestions is that ‘lab-grown’ not be used, only ‘laboratory-grown’, which as far as I can see makes no meaningful difference. A quick Google of the two phrases actually shows that the former is far more widely used than the latter, so a banning of ‘lab-grown’ would be harmful to any business dealing in the product.
The list of traditionally natural diamond-focused bodies involved in the creation of the guideline, such as the Natural Diamond Council, and the comparative lack of organisations with a focus on lab-growns, is also problematic if it is to be used in cases such as this.
With the ASA presiding over all industries covered by the retail banner, it is up to the jewellery and gemstone industries to come up with an agreed-upon and unbiased standard by which natural, lab-grown and other man-made stones are advertised.
Read the original ASA story below: