davidbonaparte-haake-dc-16JA President & CEO David Bonaparte (front) and Tim Haake meet with legislators on Capitol Hill
On Thursday, April 14, 2016, Jewelers of America President & CEO David J. Bonaparte met with representatives on House and Senate Committees that oversee the Federal Trade Commission. The topic at hand: the FTC's proposed changes to its Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries; specifically, use of the term “cultured” to describe synthetic diamonds.

The FTC has proposed to allow synthetic diamond producers to use the term "cultured" with their synthetic diamond product, as long as qualifying language such as “laboratory-created,” “laboratory-grown,” “[manufacturer-name]-created,” or “synthetic” immediately accompanies it. Jewelers of America’s position is that use of the term “cultured” is confusing, even if including qualifying language, since consumers believe the word “cultured” means or implies “natural.” 

JA’s D.C.-based legislative counsel, Haake Fetzer, organized the meetings that included a sit down with Representative John Shimkus, a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, which has broad oversight over the Federal Trade Commission. Bonaparte also met with senior legislative staff from the office of Senator Jerry Moran, the Chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee’s Consumer Protection and Product Safety Subcommittee, which has direct oversight over the FTC.

Bonaparte took the opportunity to explain, on behalf of Jewelers of America Members, that while synthetic diamonds are a growing, legitimate category for the suppliers and jewelry retailers that choose to carry them, the need for full and proper disclosure is a critical component in protecting consumer confidence. He stressed that use of the word "cultured" in conjunction with a manufactured diamond is deceptive, since it implies that synthetic diamonds are created in a natural environment, similar to cultured pearls. 

These views are in line with an industry coalition – led by the Jewelers Vigilance Committee – which is working to gather important research and share industry comments with the FTC by the June 3, 2016 deadline. Jewelers of America is actively involved with the coalition, and the meetings in D.C. helped to further communicate the jewelry industry's position on how the FTC's suggested changes could confuse consumer or hurt consumer confidence.

In addition to the "cultured diamond" proposal, the FTC has proposed other significant changes including no longer allowing lead-glass filled corundum to be referred to as ruby and eliminating minimum thresholds of 10K gold and .925 silver required to describe a jewelry piece as “gold” or “sterling silver.”

Jewelers of America is working with the industry coalition to address the FTC proposed changes and will keep members informed on the FTC Jewelry Guides. You can learn more about the FTC proposed changes at www.ftc.gov.

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