Policies & Issues

5 Points on the Proposed Changes to the FTC Guides

Policies & IssuesFeb 06, 2016

5 Points on the Proposed Changes to the FTC Guides

The Federal Trade Commission has issued proposed revisions to its Guides for the Jewelry Industry. Here are a few key things to know about them.

New York--The Federal Trade Commission has issued proposed revisions to the FTC Guides for the jewelry industry, which dictate the terms that can, and cannot, be used to market jewelry.

A few key revisions are outlined below.

This American Gemological Laboratories-provided file photo shows a lead glass-filled ruby that has been damaged during jewelry repair. At this point, these changes are merely proposed--not final--and represent the latest development in an ongoing dialogue between the industry and the FTC, which have been working on overhauling the guides since 2012.

Members of the public who want to make comments about the latest changes have until April 4 to do so. The current draft can be found on FTC.gov, and comments can be registered here.

Comments also can be mailed to:  Federal Trade Commission, Office of the Secretary, 600 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite CC-5610 (Annex O), Washington, D.C. 20580.

In the meantime, Jewelers Vigilance Committee CEO Cecilia Gardner said the JVC and other industry organizations will work on drafting responses to the latest revisions. In addition, the JVC plans to respond directly to a number of requests made by the FTC, including for more metallurgic testing on surface applications and for consumer perception data on surface-coated materials.

1. The use of the term “gold” in connection with alloys
Gardner said current FTC rules do not allow the use of the word gold to refer to any substance that’s less than 10 karats; Tiffany & Co., for example, cannot use the term gold in connection with its alloy Rubedo and instead refers it to simply as a metal.

Under the FTC’s proposed changes, the industry would be permitted to use the term gold to refer to alloys but must disclose the karatage of the gold and list the other metals present in the alloy as well.

“That’s a big change,” Gardner said.

2. The disclosure of rhodium plating
In its revisions, the FTC is proposing another major change to metals terminology--the disclosure of rhodium plating, which currently is not required.

3. A clarification on lead glass-filled rubies
Gardner said the proposed revisions clarify that the term “lead glass-filled ruby” can be used to refer only to material that contains some measure of red corundum. If the material is non-red corundum and colored glass is added to make it appear red (i.e., to make it look like a ruby), then it

must be described as lead glass-filled corundum.

In addition, the FTC stressed that the seller must disclose any and all information about the special care the material requires. 

4. The incorporation of the term “cultured” in reference to lab-grown diamonds
Gardner said when the industry submitted its latest comments on the guides to the FTC back in 2012, it asked the FTC to prohibit the use of the word cultured in connection with lab-grown diamonds. The industry contended that the term should apply only to organic processes, such as the one used for pearls. 

The FTC, however, has now proposed incorporating the word cultured into the guides but only if it is immediately accompanied by the terms lab-grown or lab-created.

5. The use of varietal names
The FTC’s proposed revisions dictate that terms such as yellow emerald and green amethyst are deceptive and misleading.

The gemstones must be described exactly as they are. In the two examples given above, it would be golden or yellow beryl and prasiolite.

Michelle Graffis the editor-in-chief at National Jeweler, directing the publication’s coverage both online and in print.

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