CIBJO Congress discusses framework for laboratory-grown diamonds trade
By David Brough
BAHRAIN, November 20, 2019 – The CIBJO-World Jewellery Confederation Congress considered a blueprint for laboratory-grown diamonds trade, opening up a dialogue between the natural and synthetic industries.
The November 18-20 CIBJO Congress, held at the Four Seasons hotel in Bahrain, marked the first time that there has been an open discussion between leaders of the natural and synthetic communities in such a forum.
CIBJO Congress, Bahrain
The event softened a sometimes strained relationship between the two market segments, paving the way for a continuing dialogue to set a framework for trade.
A laboratory-grown diamonds discussion document submitted to delegates, encompassed recommendations for nomenclature and for grading diamonds, as well as an appeal for a constructive relationship between suppliers of natural and synthetic diamonds.
“Such principles should be carried out with mutual consideration by all sides, so as not to harm the natural or laboratory-grown diamond sectors in marketing their respective products,” the document said.
The relationship had suffered after suppliers of laboratory-grown diamonds accused diamond miners of unsustainable practices, which miners rejected, challenging sustainability claims of synthetic producers.
“This week is more upbeat,” Jonathan Kendall, president of De Beers Group Industry Services and global vice-president of CIBJO, told Jewellery Outlook.
The primary goal of the laboratory-grown diamonds discussion document was to protect consumer confidence so that consumers receive complete and unambiguous information about what they are buying.
The document, created by a CIBJO working group, outlined two options for grading of laboratory-grown diamonds, including using the “4 C’s” system currently applied for natural diamonds, or a parallel and separate standard using different terminology.
The document will next go to the CIBJO board of directors who will discuss whether to adopt it.
“A big story at this CIBJO Congress regards the erosion of natural products in favour of ‘created’ ones,” said John Henn, the NAJ’s representative at the Congress.
“In the interests of our future, these developments need to be carefully managed.”
Kendall said he expected prices of laboratory-grown diamonds to continue to fall, pressured by increasing supplies, and that they could eventually displace the market for CZ jewellery.
The Congress also heard calls for “cultured” pearls to be called “farmed” pearls instead, amid sentiment that a widespread usage of the expression “cultured diamonds”, for laboratory-grown diamonds, could lead to a misunderstanding of cultured pearls.
“’Cultured’ diamonds are grown in laboratories, and cultured pearls are grown on pearl farms in some of the most pristine, beautiful places on the planet, and so the consumer perception is rapidly starting to shift,” said Jeremy Shepherd, representing the Cultured Pearl Association of America.
CIBJO gathers jewellery industry leaders from around the world at a conference held at a different venue each year to update terms for jewellery and gemstones trade.
CIBJO Congress. Pic of retailer John Henn, NAJ delegate to CIBJO