The United Kingdom has become one of a handful of nations to take proactive steps to protect diamond jewellery buyers from confusing sales labelling, thanks to a collaboration between the National Association of Jewellers (NAJ) and UK Trading Standards.
Shopping for jewellery is an important and emotional experience, but many buyers feel confused by the alternative names used to describe natural diamonds and synthetic diamonds. Without clear labelling, shoppers are at risk of accidentally purchasing a product that is synthetic when they believe it to be a natural diamond from the earth.
To banish this confusion, the leading jewellery industry body in the UK, the NAJ, has taken proactive steps with Trading Standards to enshrine its Diamond Terminology Guideline as Primary Authority Advice, which is assured. This means the 2,000 plus businesses that are members of the Association have received advice from Trading Standards on describing diamonds, based around the pre-existing Diamond Terminology Guideline.
“We are quite lucky in the UK that we haven’t seen many cases of sellers purposefully trying to confuse customers,” says NAJ chair Gary Wroe. “We know this definitely isn’t the case in other places, where laboratory-grown diamonds are misleadingly sold and could be mixed up with natural diamonds in the mind of the buyer.
“We are not taking any chances, and have worked with Trading Standards to try and nip this problem in the bud before any diamond jewellery buyers in the UK are affected.”
The Diamond Terminology Guideline was first created in 2018 by eight global diamond organisations, including the World Diamond Council. The aim was to get all nations on the same page when it comes to describing diamonds in store and online.
The UK is now a world leader in this area, having taken voluntary steps to help diamond jewellery lovers shop with confidence and security from their local or specialist NAJ jeweller. Members of the public can search the NAJ’s Find a Jeweller member directory with peace of mind, knowing that all members abide by the Association’s code of conduct, based on honesty, integrity and professionalism.
The world’s natural diamonds are some of the earth’s oldest products and are found in the ground, seabed and sometimes rivers. Synthetic diamonds, laboratory-grown diamonds or laboratory-created diamonds are entirely manmade, and they have essentially the same physical characteristics as a natural diamond. With the proper testing instruments, specialists can easily separate synthetic diamonds and natural diamonds, but the differences between them may not be immediately apparent by eye alone.
The use of synthetic diamonds in jewellery is relatively new, but many collections have been launched under a wide range of confusing names, such as cultured diamonds, suggesting an organic process of development.
Another product that can be found on the market is the imitation diamond, known as diamond simulants. They do not share the same chemical composition or physical properties of a diamond and examples include cubic zirconia.
“Natural diamonds are rare and more expensive per carat than synthetic and imitation diamonds, which makes clear labelling absolutely essential when buying,” says Wroe. “If a piece of diamond jewellery seems too good to be true, make sure you are aware of the ‘Assured Advice’ around diamond terminology and be prepared to ask questions about the stone’s origins.”
NAJ Members in the UK will now be expected to follow the Diamond Terminology Guideline if they want to be legally protected against the risk of enforcement action. Those found to be ignoring the rules may be at risk of repercussions from Trading Standards.