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CIBJO DIAMOND COMMISSION SPECIAL REPORT: NOMENCLATURE FOR NATURAL VS. SYNTHETIC DIAMONDS
25 September 2017
Ahead of the 2017 CIBJO Congress set to take place in Bangkok, Thailand, on November 5th, CIBJO has published a Special Report, prepared by Udi Sheintal, President of the organization's Diamond Commission. The focus of the report is on the terminology used both within the industry and in the consumer markets to differentiate between mined diamonds and lab-grown (synthetic) diamonds.

In his report, Sheintal argues that, "Without proper analysis, diamonds formed in nature and synthetic diamonds created by man are difficult to distinguish from one another, and consequently the way they each are referred to - or named - is so important. That they are different products there is no argument. But how do we make certain that the consuming public understands this to be the case?"

The report notes that in the rules outlined in CIBJO's Diamond Blue Book it is very clearly stated that, "diamond is a mineral which has been formed completely by nature without human interference during its formation." This means that only a diamond formed in nature can be referred to as a diamond, while a synthetic stone must be preceded by a modifier such as "synthetic" or "laboratory-grown". The International Standards Organisation (ISO) has also adopted this approach.

Sheintal contends that, "...any wilful deviation from the CIBJO or ISO guidelines by a company manufacturing or selling synthetic diamonds constitutes, on its part, a deliberate attempt to deceive or mislead the consumer." However, laments Sheintal, "...neither CIBJO nor ISO has the means or the ability to enforce its rulings. That remains within the jurisdiction of the legal authorities in any specific country."

At the upcoming CIBJO Congress in Bangkok, the Diamond Commission plans to discuss amendments to the Blue Book, says Sheintal, to "reemphasise that diamond is natural, and like other gemstone names is a normative and protected term for untreated minerals. Synthetic diamonds, it is proposed, meets the definition of an artificial product, which ‘are partially or completely made by man'."

While the report agrees that within the trade it should be unnecessary for diamond suppliers to use the modifier "natural" to describe their diamonds (as the onus should be wholly on the suppliers of synthetic diamonds to correctly identify their stones as such), Sheintal argues that there are instances when the term "natural" should be emphasized, to guide the consumer in differentiating natural from synthetic diamonds, and urges the diamond industry, "... to take ownership of the adjective ‘natural', and associate it with other modifiers like ‘real', ‘genuine', ‘rare' and ‘unique'."
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