CIBJO urges diamond groups to lobby FTC
By David Brough
BOGOTA, Colombia, October 2018 – CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, will work with other industry groups to consult with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its fiercely debated diamond definition.
Industry leaders attending the October 15-17 CIBJO Congress in Bogota called for a clearer message to consumers in the marketing of diamonds, whether natural or laboratory-grown.
“(Delegates) support the proposal that CIBJO works alongside other industry organizations engaging with the U.S. FTC regarding the newly issued guidelines,” said a resolution passed unanimously by the CIBJO Congress on October 17.
The CIBJO diamonds Blue Book, which sets diamonds nomenclature, was left unchanged, despite the revised FTC guidelines, which remove the word “natural” from the definition of a diamond. The FTC’s revision appeared to put the body at odds with CIBJO’s standards.
Some industry leaders attending the Congress called for diamond trade groups to support the Diamond Producers Association (DPA) and lobby the FTC to change its guidelines.
Laboratory-grown diamonds have the potential to disrupt the gem and jewellery business, but also could help it grow, by opening up markets that previously were more difficult to penetrate, CIBJO President Gaetano Cavalieri said.
“Our objective is not to alienate the producers of such materials, but rather to welcome them into our community,” Cavalieri said in a keynote speech on October 15.
“At the same time, we seek to protect the established diamond industry, and in particular their stakeholders in developing countries, for whom diamond mining is a source of livelihood and economic opportunity,” he said.
Diamantaires attending the CIBJO Congress said they had been wary of rewriting the carefully formulated definition of diamonds in the Blue Book in response to regulatory changes in one country, in a reference to the U.S. FTC guidelines.
The real focus needs to be on creating clear messages to consumers about diamonds, said Alex Popov, president of the Moscow diamond bourse.
“I stand by the Blue Book,” Popov said.
“The important thing is for the industry to be able to line up and provide a simple, clear message to consumers about diamonds.”
Ernie Blom, president of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB), said he favoured moves by diamond trade groups to pursue a dialogue with the FTC.
“Do we continue to engage with the FTC to get them to change their mind? Yes, we have to,” he said.
Stephane Fischler, president of the World Diamond Council (WDC), said, “We are happy to provide cross-industry support to continue the dialogue with the FTC.”
Blom said he backed any moves to facilitate a discussion between natural and lab grown diamond producers.
“It is important that the industry engages with synthetic producers,” Blom said.
Diamantaires expressed concerns over what they termed “piggy-backing” by lab-grown producers on the natural diamond trade to sell their product, while failing to acknowledge the support that the natural-diamond sector gives to local communities.
The process towards attaining any future agreement on the diamond nomenclature was expected to be lengthy.
“This is going to be a long, drawn-out scenario,” Blom said.
Also at the Congress, Cavalieri introduced CIBJO’s Responsible Sourcing Guidance document, which will serve as a reference for responsible sourcing practices applied worldwide, and will eventually have the status of a CIBJO Blue Book.
To oversee the process, a Responsible Sourcing Commission was established.
The 2019 CIBJO Congress will take place in Bahrain, organisers said.