Policies & Issues

NDC Prevails in U.K. Case Over Lab-Grown Diamond Advertising

Policies & IssuesApr 17, 2024

NDC Prevails in U.K. Case Over Lab-Grown Diamond Advertising

NDC filed a complaint against Skydiamond for use of phrases like “diamonds made entirely from the sky.”

 Stock image of a gavel
The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority upheld the Natural Diamond Council’s complaint against U.K.-based retailer Skydiamond. The NDC alleged that Skydiamond’s marketing claims, such as referring to its lab-grown diamonds as “diamonds made entirely from the sky,” were misleading to consumers, and the ASA agreed.
Editor’s Note: This story was updated post-publication to include comment from Skydiamond.

London—The U.K.’s Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) announced it has upheld the Natural Diamond Council’s complaint against retailer Skydiamond for misleading marketing and advertisement of lab-grown diamonds.

The online fine jewelry retailer uses a patented process to create diamonds from atmospheric carbon dioxide and rainwater using renewable energy from solar and wind power, its website states.

The NDC’s complaint alleged that it was misleading for Skydiamond to use the terms “Skydiamonds,” “diamonds,” and “diamonds made entirely from the sky” in ads it featured in early 2023 in press, on its Instagram, and on its website.

It also called into question the use of the words “real diamond” in a section of the retailer’s FAQ page that answered the question “Are Skydiamonds real diamonds?” with “Each Skydiamond is a perfectly formed real diamond.”

In its ruling, the ASA, which is the U.K. equivalent of the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), sided with NDC, stating that the ads did not make it clear that the diamonds were lab grown. 

It also said the above terms were misleading, and the ads breached the U.K. Code of Non-Broadcast Advertising, Sales Promotion and Direct Marketing rules 3.1 and 3.3, with regards to misleading advertising, and 3.9, with regards to qualification.  

The code states, “marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous, or untimely manner.” 

All of Skydiamond’s ads included clear gemstones and references to diamonds, the ruling said, and it considered consumers would understand “diamond” in insolation to mean a naturally occurring mineral of crystallized carbon. 

While some consumers would be aware that diamonds could be manufactured in a lab, ASA said, many would not. 

ASA directed Skydiamond not to use the above terms to describe their lab-grown diamonds without a clear and prominent qualifier, such as “synthetic,” “laboratory-grown” or “laboratory-created,” or another way of conveying the same meaning to consumers in a direct and obvious manner.  

It also told the retailer the ads must not appear again in the form complained about, and to not use the claim “real diamonds” to describe lab-grown diamonds. 

Skydiamond said it plans to appeal the ruling, calling it “a mistake.” 

“Our website and all of our marketing, indeed our very name, make clear that our diamonds come from the sky, we make them or mine them from the sky," said Dale Vince, founder of Skydiamond.

"We make that very clear. Nobody could possibly think they are conventional stones ripped from the bowels of the earth at enormous environmental cost, and nobody actually has. This complaint is not based on actual confusion on the part of customer; it comes from the trade body for diamond mining companies, [and] it is an attempt to use the ASA for anti-competitive purposes and it utterly baseless."

 Related stories will be right here … 

The NDC, which filed in March 2023, based its complaint on the Diamond Terminology Guideline, a reference document that, as of 2020, is assured and recognized by Trading Standards in the U.K. market.

The U.K.’s National Association of Jewellers, along with leading industry organizations, have endorsed the guideline, which is built on the ISO 18323 Standard (“Jewellery – Consumer confidence in the diamond industry”) and the CIBJO Diamond Blue Book.

The FTC has its own rules on diamond terminology, but it is not recognized for diamonds sold outside the United States.

The Diamond Terminology Guideline states that all documents, websites, and other means of communication intended to sell, buy, and promote natural diamonds, lab-grown diamonds, gemstones, lab reports, and natural and lab-grown diamond jewelry must use “synthetic,” “laboratory-grown” or “laboratory-created” when referring to lab-grown diamonds, a directive the ASA references in its ruling.

In one section of its lengthy response to NDC’s complaint, Skydiamond called the guideline a tool that “should not be, and did not profess to be, the only basis for defining the origin of a diamond or for determining definitively whether diamond ads were misleading to an average consumer.” 

Skydiamond also argued that of the 23 steps in its “novel and innovative” production process, only the CVD step was shared with conventional lab-grown diamond production processes, and commercialization of its process post-dated the introduction of the Diamond Terminology Guideline, so it was not considered for inclusion. 

The ASA acknowledged in its ruling that the guideline had been updated in 2023, but there were no major changes to the 2020 version. 

And, although it agrees Skydiamond’s production process differs from other diamond growers, ASA said the diamonds were lab grown nonetheless and consumers needed to know that before making a transactional decision. 

 
The NDC’s complaint to the ASA regarding misleading terminology in advertisements for lab-grown diamonds initially included three other U.K. retailers—Stephen Webster, Lark & Berry, and Idyl. 

According to NDC, ASA dropped its case against Stephen Webster but did note that its ruling in the Skydiamond case also applies to Stephen Webster’s marketing and communications. 

A spokesperson for Stephen Webster said the company had no comment on the ruling. 

The ASA investigated ads from the other two retailers and considered them to be in breach of code—Lark & Berry for the use of “cultured diamond” and “diamond” without a qualifier when referring to synthetic diamonds, and Idyl for the use of the terms “diamonds,” “diamond sparkle,” “fine diamond jewelry,” “sustainable diamonds,” and “Diamonds of the Future” in the same context.

Lark & Berry agreed to amend the ads with qualifiers such as “synthetic,” “laboratory-grown,” and “laboratory-created.”

Idyl also agreed to amend their advertisements that targeted U.K. consumers. 

Both rulings have been published as informally resolved on ASA’s website


Lauren McLemoreis the associate editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments.

The Latest

De Beers CEO Al Cook and Signet Jewelers CEO Gina Drosos
SourcingMay 24, 2024
Signet, De Beers Have a Plan to Promote Natural Diamonds

The two industry giants are working together on a new marketing campaign.

Stock image of a diamond engagement ring
SourcingMay 24, 2024
De Beers’ Sales Slide in Fourth Round of Sales This Year

The company sold $380 million in rough diamonds, compared with $479 million in the same period last year.

Tiffany Venetian glass bead ear clips
TrendsMay 23, 2024
State of Jewelry Design: 3 Themes That Will Shape the Next 5 Years

Color, storytelling, and the use of nonconventional materials are the signatures of today’s most innovative and influential designers.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Van Cleef & Arpels tie necklace
AuctionsMay 23, 2024
Sotheby’s to Offer Rare VCA Necklace, ‘Lavender Dream’ Diamond

A tie necklace from Van Cleef & Arpels and a pinkish purple diamond are highlights of the upcoming New York jewelry auction.

Weekly QuizMay 23, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these seven questions.
Take the Quiz
Inoveo Platinum
MajorsMay 23, 2024
PGI to Debut New Platinum Alloy in Las Vegas

Inoveo Platinum will be distributed exclusively by Stuller in the U.S.

Alan Hart Headshot
MajorsMay 23, 2024
Gem-A CEO Alan Hart Resigns

He is stepping down in August after eight years as CEO.

Royal Chain gold chains
Brought to you by
Record Gold Prices Have Consumers Undeterred. Here’s Why.

Despite the rising prices, consumers continue to seek out the precious metal.

Rose cut arch cabochons Columbia Gem House
SourcingMay 22, 2024
State of Colored Stones: Why the Market Is More Colorful Than Ever

As prices of “The Big Three” skyrocket, supply dwindles, and focus on sustainability grows, an age of open-mindedness is dawning.

The Eden Rose, a 10.20-carat fancy intense pink diamond
AuctionsMay 22, 2024
Christie’s Website Back Online, Announces Plans to Auction 10-Carat Pink Diamond

The fancy intense pink “The Eden Rose” is estimated to sell for up to $12 million at the New York “Magnificent Jewels” sale next month.

Pandora Essence jewelry
CollectionsMay 22, 2024
Pandora’s New Jewelry Collection Reimagines the Essentials

The “Pandora Essence” collection brings a contemporary and sculptural feel to staples like gold hoops and pearl necklaces.

Instore show 2024
Events & AwardsMay 22, 2024
InStore ‘Cram Day’ To Focus on Lab-Grown Diamond Education

The limited-seating learning event precedes its second annual trade show, which starts Aug. 11.

Swarovski New York City flagship
IndependentsMay 21, 2024
State of Retail: 4 Retail Design Trends for 2024

From lighter color palettes to the integration of AR, experts offer inspiration for jewelers in need of an aesthetic refresh.

Dame Shirley Bassey’s
AuctionsMay 21, 2024
Dame Shirley Bassey’s Diamonds Are Ready for Their Encore

Sotheby’s will auction jewelry belonging to the “Diamonds Are Forever” singer in Paris this October.

National Jeweler columnist Sherry Smith
ColumnistsMay 21, 2024
Successful Vendor Relationships: A Win-Win Approach

Sherry Smith shares tips for fostering successful vendor-retailer partnerships, from marketing investment to fast-seller replenishment.

Jennifer Herold, Independent Jewelers Organization vice president
IndependentsMay 21, 2024
Jennifer Herold Promoted to VP at IJO

Herold has been with the organization for 22 years and will continue in her current role of conference director.

Studs pop-up
MajorsMay 20, 2024
Studs Opens Luxury Piercing Pop-Up in NYC

“Fancy Studs” will feature revamped branding and a new lab-grown diamond fine jewelry collection.

Nivoda executive team at table
SourcingMay 20, 2024
2 Business-to-Business Platforms Secure Millions in Funding

Nivoda and Liquid Diamonds both have big plans for the new capital.

Stuller Packaging & Displays 2024-2025 catalog
MajorsMay 20, 2024
Stuller Issues New Packaging & Display Catalog

The 2024-2025 edition features new colors and styles, as well as storytelling elements.

Elephants wading in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
SourcingMay 20, 2024
State of the Diamond Industry: Botswana Beyond Diamonds

From moringa to ecotourism in the Okavango Delta, the country and its leaders are exploring how Botswana can diversify its economy.

Rough diamonds from De Beers
SourcingMay 20, 2024
Anglo American Confirms It Is Looking to Sell De Beers

The mining giant also wants to offload its platinum business as part of an overhaul designed to “unlock significant value.”

Buccellati jewelry
FinancialsMay 17, 2024
Richemont Appoints Van Cleef & Arpels’ Nicolas Bos as New CEO

The announcement coincided with its full-year results, with growth driven by its jewelry brands.

Watches of Switzerland Mall of America store
FinancialsMay 17, 2024
Watches of Switzerland’s Fiscal-Year Sales Flat

Looking ahead, the retailer said it sees “enormous potential” in Roberto Coin’s ability to boost its branded jewelry business.

My Next Question webinar series graphic
Recorded WebinarsMay 17, 2024
Watch: Preparing for Trade Show Success

Jewelry trade show veterans share strategies for engaging buyers, managing your time effectively, and packing the right shoes.

Cartier ring-tailed lemur brooch circa 1991
AuctionsMay 17, 2024
Piece of the Week: Cartier’s Ring-Tailed Lemur

This little guy’s name is Ricky and he just sold for more than $200,000 at Sotheby’s Geneva jewelry auction.

202.18 carat fancy intense yellow diamond The Yellow Rose
AuctionsMay 16, 2024
Christie’s Holds 2 Sales Despite Cyberattack

Though its website has been down for a week, Christie’s proceeded with its jewelry and watch auctions on May 13-14, bringing in nearly $80 million.

The Allnatt yellow diamond
AuctionsMay 16, 2024
Sotheby’s Withdraws 101-Carat Yellow Diamond from Auction

Despite the absence of “The Allnatt,” Sotheby’s Geneva jewelry auction totaled $34 million, with 90 percent of lots sold.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy