Policies & Issues

From Conclave: FTC Do’s and Don’ts Beyond Lab-Grown Diamonds

Policies & IssuesApr 15, 2019

From Conclave: FTC Do’s and Don’ts Beyond Lab-Grown Diamonds

From pearl treatments to composite gemstones, Tiffany Stevens and Sara Yood of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee shared tips on how to comply with the revised Jewelry Guides.

New York—When the Federal Trade Commission debuted the revised Jewelry Guides in July, the new regulations around lab-grown diamonds were the talk of the industry.

The recent warning letters sent to eight companies regarding their advertisements for lab-grown diamond jewelry and diamond simulants have reignited the discussion, but there are other changes to the guides that warrant attention.

Jewelers Vigilance Committee CEO Tiffany Stevens and Senior Counsel Sara Yood held a session Wednesday at AGS Conclave in Seattle to break down all the changes to the Jewelry Guides.

“We just want to make sure everyone knows what their responsibilities are,” Stevens said.

She noted that while the guidelines are not technically laws, not adhering to them could lead to lawsuits from the FTC or competitors, or even class-action lawsuits from consumers.

Here a few tips and tricks to keep jewelers in compliance.

Be Upfront With Plating

Under the new guidelines, jewelers are required to disclose if a piece of jewelry has been plated with rhodium, platinum or silver. When using rhodium plating, the seller has to assure the durability of the coating.

Yood recommended applying the “reasonable person standard”—meaning the plating will last as long as your average customer would expect—and always disclosing plating to the customer in writing.

Be Mindful of Metal Minimums

There is no longer a 10-karat minimum threshold for gold, meaning 8-karat or below can be labeled gold in the United States.

However, the fineness needs to be disclosed for anything under 24-karat gold.

While there is no minimum threshold for silver, the fineness must be disclosed and a piece must be at least .925 ppt silver to be called “sterling” silver.

If a piece contains more than one precious metal, the predominant metal should be listed first in the description or described in a way that makes it clear.

For example, if a necklace is mostly silver with 14-karat gold accents, the JVC’s presentation suggested describing it as “sterling +14K” or “14-karat gold accented sterling silver.”

Disclose All Pearl Treatments

While not mentioned in previous editions, there is a section in the revised Jewelry Guides about pearl treatments.

A pearl treatment has to be disclosed if the treatment is not permanent, requires special care or significantly affects the value of the pearl, such as dyeing.

The guidelines also recommend explaining any special care requirements a customer would need to know.

Be Clear About Composite Gemstone Products

Disclosure is important when describing products made with gemstone material and filler,  such as glass or a polymer. 

Stay away from calling these products “lab-created” or “lab-grown,” or referring to them as “treated” gemstones.


Instead, call it a composite gemstone, hybrid gemstone or a manufactured gemstone.

For example, a seller could describe a lead-glass filled ruby as “composite ruby, lead-glass filled, special care required.”

Also, be careful not to get too creative with varietal naming, the JVC warned in its presentation. It would be considered deceptive to describe golden beryl as a “yellow emerald” or prasiolite as “green amethyst.”

Handmade Products Must Be Made Entirely By Hand

While this might seem obvious, the guides are specific about what it means to say a product is “handmade.”

If a jewelry designer uses CAD software to create a piece, then that’s not considered handmade.

In order to say a product is handmade, the “entire shaping and forming of such product from raw materials and its finishing and decoration were accomplished by hand labor,” the FTC Jewelry Guides state.

If a seller wants to tout something special about a piece that was partially handmade, boast about the specific part of the process that was done manually, such as hand-set or hand-engraved, advised Yood.

A Hashtag Is Not Disclosure

Social media is an indispensable advertising tool for most companies, but sellers need to be mindful of their descriptions on platforms like Facebook and Instagram.

It might be helpful to look back on old social media posts as well to be sure they’re all up to standard, Yood said.

Definitely share that gorgeous ring photo, she said, but understand that “#LabGrownDiamond” is not sufficient disclosure. Give as much detail about the piece as possible.

Eco-Friendly Claims Must Be Backed Up

The recent FTC warning letters mentioned that companies can’t play fast and loose with calling themselves “eco-friendly.” It’s not a throwaway term and needs to be backed up with data, advised JVC.

The FTC has an entirely separate set of guidelines for environmental claims, the “Green Guides.” They apply to all advertising, and the jewelry industry is no exception.

Jewelers with additional questions or concerns about the revised guidelines can visit the JVC’s website for more information about compliance.

Lenore Fedowis the associate editor, news at National Jeweler, covering the retail beat and the business side of jewelry.

The Latest

Macy’s Herald Square store
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Macy’s Ends Buyout Talks

The retailer will not be making a deal with Arkhouse Management and Brigade Capital Management, opting to focus on its turnaround plan.

Crime police cars
CrimeJul 16, 2024
Thieves Nab $500K in Jewelry in Calif. Group Smash-and-Grab

The Berkeley robbery follows two other Bay Area robberies involving multiple suspects, one in May and one in June.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
ColumnistsJul 16, 2024
The PR Adviser: Awareness Starts With Your Online Store

Lilian Raji discusses the importance of having an intentional website design that aligns with your brand or store’s goals.

Untitled design.jpg
Brought to you by
The End of an Era? Lab-Grown Diamonds' Journey Towards Price Stability

As the demand for lab-grown diamond jewelry may still be increasing, the most notable change we are likely to see is price stabilization.

Catbird The Met collection
CollectionsJul 16, 2024
Catbird Debuts New Met Collection

It’s the second collaborative offering from the jewelry brand and the New York City art museum.

Weekly QuizJul 11, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these questions.
Take the Quiz
Craftsman holding Pomellato Arengario necklace
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Pomellato Acquires Valenza Setting Lab

The Kering-owned brand bought VSL to reinforce its manufacturing capabilities.

Ewa Abrams, Kering’s new president for the Americas
MajorsJul 16, 2024
Kering Appoints New President for Americas Region

The luxury conglomerate promoted General Counsel Ewa Abrams to the role, succeeding Laurent Claquin.

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.

Tanzanite ring
MajorsJul 15, 2024
Signet Falls 11 Spots on NRF’s ‘Top 100’ Retailers List

The jewelry giant came in at No. 67 on the list, down from No. 56 last year.

 2025 Gem Awards logo
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Nominations Are Open for the 2025 Gem Awards

Submissions in the categories of Jewelry Design, Media Excellence, and Retail Excellence will be accepted through Aug. 23.

Sunlit’s Sun Goddess Supreme Ring and Pyramid Rutilated Quartz Necklace
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
NY Now Expands Emerging Designer Segment for Its Summer Market

Curated at Luxury Lifestyle will build on the former initiative, the Emerging Fine Jewelry Designer Incubator.

Collage of Caitlin Albritton and her jewelry
Events & AwardsJul 15, 2024
Halstead Announces 2024 Grant Winner

Caitlin Albritton won the 19th annual Halstead Grant for emerging jewelry businesses.

Myne London
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Myne London to Support Malala Fund

The emerald supplier will donate a percentage of sales from its “Star Power” earrings to the nonprofit in support of girls’ education.

The Jewelry Symposium logo
Events & AwardsJul 12, 2024
The Jewelry Symposium Is Looking for Speakers

TJS is seeking jewelry manufacturing and technology experts to speak at its 2025 event.

Sculptural Freeform Earrings
CollectionsJul 12, 2024
Piece of the Week: Marrow Fine’s ‘Sculptural Freeform’ Earrings

The earrings were inspired by the landscape at Joshua Tree and Jean Arp’s abstract sculptures.

Madeline Fraser Gemist
EditorsJul 11, 2024
Q&A: Gemist CEO Madeline Fraser on Jewelry Visualization Technology

Fraser shares why she decided to shift from a direct-to-consumer retailer to a B2B technology company.

Jewelers of America learning workshop Providence logo
Events & AwardsJul 11, 2024
JA to Host Next Learning Workshop in Providence

The one-day workshop will be held July 17 at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Jewelers International Showcase Logo Statue
Events & AwardsJul 11, 2024
Registration Now Open for JIS Fall 2024

The jewelry trade show will take place in Miami Oct. 6-9.

Kyle Kuzma, D’Angelo Russell, Jalen Green, Jaime Jacquez Jr., Kevin Love, Josh Hart, and Seth Curry
MajorsJul 11, 2024
David Yurman Names 7 NBA Players as Brand Ambassadors

The partnership reinforces David Yurman’s position as a leader in men’s jewelry, said the company.

U.S. Customs and Boarder Protection Paperwork
CrimeJul 10, 2024
US Customs Seizes $10M in Counterfeit Jewelry

Officers intercepted three packages within 24 hours containing fake goods claiming to be from various luxury brands.

Matturi Fine Jewelry totem jewel
Events & AwardsJul 10, 2024
IAC’s Gold and Diamond Conference to Focus on ‘Expanding Horizons’

The 14th annual conference will host panels on cross-sector collaboration, industry sanctions, and more.

Immediate Connections
Events & AwardsJul 10, 2024
Women’s Art Center of the Hamptons to Host Jewelry Exhibition

“Immediate Connections” will be on view from July 18-21.

Navneet Gems salt & pepper sapphires
SourcingJul 10, 2024
Navneet Gems Launches Salt-and-Pepper Sapphires

Sourced from Tanzania, the stones feature a unique hematite inclusion.

Buccellati butterfly brooch
TrendsJul 10, 2024
Amanda’s Style File: Slither and Fly

Snakes, birds, and bugs are all the buzz this summer.

Peter Smith
ColumnistsJul 09, 2024
11 and ½ Thoughts on Leadership

From prioritizing “big rocks” to practicing transparency, Peter Smith explores what it takes to be an effective leader.

John Hardy bracelet and Wölffer Estate Summer in a Bottle rosé
CollectionsJul 09, 2024
John Hardy Toasts to Wölffer Estate With New Collection

The capsule collection is inspired by the Hamptons vineyard’s Summer in a Bottle rosé.

Fuli Gemstones peridot The Curious Gem
SourcingJul 09, 2024
The Curious Gem Now Carrying Fuli Peridot

The U.K.-based online supplier will offer calibrated stones under 1 carat.

×

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