The FTC has amended its Jewelry Guides (formally, the “Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals, and Pewter Industries”) which aim to help prevent deception in jewelry marketing by providing clear standards.
The Jewelry Guides, like other industry guides published by the FTC, are intended to help marketers understand their responsibilities with respect to avoiding consumer deception. The Guides themselves are not binding law, but instead offer the FTC’s interpretation of how Section 5 of the FTC Act applies to certain practices within the industry.
For those in the jewelry industry, the issuance of these changes suggests it may be a good time for a compliance check. Some noteworthy changes include:
- No more thresholds for describing alloys as “gold” or “silver.”
Under the old Guides, marketers were prohibited from using the terms “gold” and “silver” to describe a product made of a gold or silver alloy (combination of gold or silver and one or more other precious metals) unless the ratio of gold/silver to other metals met certain minimum thresholds.
The revisions eliminate these requirements. From now on, any gold alloy may be marketed as “gold” as long as the marketing contains “an equally conspicuous, accurate karat fineness disclosure.” The same goes for silver alloys as long as the marketing contains a conspicuous and accurate disclosure of the parts-per-thousand measurement.
- New requirements for describing silver- and platinum-coated products.
A preexisting rule advises against using the term “gold” to describe a product that is merely gold-coated. The revised Guides extend this rule to silver and platinum products.
- New rule prohibiting the use of incorrect varietal names to describe gemstones.
The FTC now expressly prohibits the use of incorrect varietal names like “yellow emerald” or “green amethyst” to describe gemstones. Instead, marketers should use scientifically-correct terms like “heliodor” and “prasiolite.”
- Relaxed rules for lab-grown diamonds and gemstones.
The revisions make several changes to the rules for marketing lab-grown diamonds and gemstones. For the most part, these changes benefit the lab-grown sector. For instance, the FTC now cautions marketers not to use the terms “real, genuine, natural, or synthetic” to imply that a lab-grown diamond “is not, in fact, an actual diamond.”
The Guides still prohibit the use of terms like “real” and “natural” to describe lab-grown diamonds and gemstones, but the FTC indicated that it might be willing to reconsider this position.