Focus on

LABORATORY-GROWN DIAMONDS

Jewelry industry participants from around the world at the CIBJO Congress in Bahrain in November 2019. 

FOR THE FIRST TIME NATURAL AND LAB-GROWN DIAMOND SECTORS AGREE TO COOPERATE IN DEVELOPING COMMON SET OF TRADING PRINCIPLES

 

For possibly the first time in a formal industry setting, representatives of both the natural and laboratory-grown diamond sectors have come together with the intention of establishing a set of mutually agreed-to principles that will regulate thee relations between the product categories.

The meeting occurred at the 2019 congress of CIBJO, the World Jewelry Confederation, in Bahrain, with a decision by CIBJO’s board of directors voting to establish a new committee that will be dedicated to establishing operating practices that are specific to the laboratory-grown diamond trade

According to the decision by the CIBJO board, the Laboratory-Grown Diamond Committee will operate under the umbrella of the body’s Diamond Commission. It is being created from an ad hoc working group, which was established at the 2018 CIBJO Congress in Colombia, and over the past year drafted a guidance document that was presented at a highly anticipated and packed session at the gathering in Bahrain. 

The working group included CIBJO officers and officials, representatives both the laboratory-grown diamond sector, the natural diamond sector and a leading gemological laboratory.

CONSUMERS MUST RECEIVE UNAMBIGIUOUS INFORMATION

CIBJO’s objective in creating the Laboratory-Grown Diamond Committee, said its President, Gaetano Cavalieri, was to establish a proposal for a set of working rules that will enable the natural and laboratory-grown diamond sectors to work alongside each other, enabling both to grow and flourish, not at the expense of the other, while maintaining the consumer’s trust and confidence.

“The time has come to reach a modus operandi that is acceptable to all of us,” Dr. Cavalieri stated. “Unnecessary effort and time have been wasted through mutual recrimination, and it ultimately it is in the interests of all sides to develop a mutually agreed-to framework that would prevent problematic incidents, such as the mixing of parcels of natural and laboratory-grown diamonds without disclosing the fact to consumers.”

The new committee is headed by Wesley Hunt of the De Beers Group, which is a major producer of both natural and laboratory-grown diamonds. He said the new body was “about us working together with differentiated products that consumers can understand.”

CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri (far left), addressing the CIBJO Congress during the session at which the Laboratory-Grown Diamond Working Group presented its guidance document. He is joined on the podium by several working group members (from left): Wesley Hunt, chairperson, Thierry Silber, Andrey Zharkov and Daniel Nyfeler.

“There are clear ground rules,” Mr. Hunt explained. “Consumers must receive complete and unambiguous information about what they are buying, so that they can make a consciously informed purchasing decision.”

Wesley Hunt, the chairperson of the ad-hoc Laboratory-Grown Diamond Working Group. A De Beers executive, his company holds the status of being among world’s largest producers of both natural and laboratory-grown diamonds.

RECOGNIZING LAB-GROWN AS LEGIMATE DIAMOND SECTOR

In a document prepared by the group they wrote: “A stated goal of the working group is to create a framework by which the laboratory grown diamond industry would become recognized as a bona fide sector in the greater jewelry industry, while at the same time protecting the interests of the other sectors of the industry. 

The only ground rules that were provided to the group was that it members needed be committed to defending the interests of consumers by being absolutely transparent about the identity of the products being sold, and there should be general agreement that neither the natural diamond or laboratory-grown diamond sectors should advance their respective interests by disparaging those of the other. This would include marketers and brands making unqualified claims that their product is “environmentally friendly” or “eco-friendly,” unless the product can be shown to have measurably positive environmental impact.

The document presented at the congress in Bahrain stressed that producers and marketers of laboratory-grown diamonds should support consumer differentiation of their product and not engage in any deliberate action aimed at reducing its detectability. It was suggested they do so using equipment available in the market, which has been developed and assessed by a third-party, such as the Diamond Producers Association’s Assure Programme.

Regarding the issue of grading laboratory-grown diamonds, the document suggests that merchandise be described as one would any manufactured product, including the name and country in which the goods would be produced.