The National Advertising Division – the US’ advertising industry self-regulation body – has investigated the Natural Diamond Council’s marketing, following a complaint from lab-created diamond producer Diamond Foundry. Natural diamond organisation warned over advertising Posted April 30, 2021 | By Arabella Roden • Editor The National Advertising Division (NAD) – the US advertising industry’s self-regulation body – has issued a warning to the Natural Diamond Council (NDC) following a complaint from lab-created diamond company Diamond Foundry.
The warning pertained to advertising that compared natural mined diamonds with man-made diamonds – also known as lab-grown, lab-created, or synthetic diamonds – appearing on the NDC’s website and in marketing assets made available to retailers.
Diamond Foundry disputed the NDC’s claim that natural diamond production generates three times less carbon emissions than lab-created diamonds – a figure the NDC derived from a report commissioned by its predecessor organisation, the Diamond Producers Association, in 2019
Diamond Foundry disputed the NDC’s claim that natural diamond production generates three times less carbon emissions than lab-created diamonds – a figure the NDC derived from a report commissioned by its predecessor organisation, the Diamond Producers Association, in 2019.
That report, The Socioeconomic and Environmental Impact of Large-Scale Diamond Mining, was compiled by Trucost, a corporate advisory firm established to “provide the data, tools and insights needed by companies, investors and policy makers to deliver the transition to a low carbon, resource efficient economy”.
Diamond Foundry previously criticised the report as relying on outdated or secondhand information about the lab-created diamond sector’s technology, and claimed neither it nor De Beers – whose Element Six subsidiary is one of the largest lab-created diamond producers – had been approached by the report’s authors.
In an April 22 statement, the NAD determined that the NDC’s evidence for the 'three times less carbon emissions' claim was “not sufficiently reliable” and was “concerned that such claims conveyed a broader implied message about the overall environmental benefits of mined diamonds versus man-made diamonds”.
NAD recommended NDC remove the claim, alongside online advertising that referred to the “scarcity of mined diamonds [and] the resale value of mined diamonds versus man-made diamonds”.
The body also determined that the NDC’s use of the term “real” to describe mined diamonds could, in context, imply that lab-created diamonds had different chemical or physical properties to mined diamonds, and that consumers “may incorrectly conflate [lab-created diamonds], such as Diamond Foundry’s, with imitation diamonds like moissanite and cubic zirconia”.
In the statement, NAD confirmed the NDC had agreed to comply with its recommendations and was “grateful for the NAD’s constructive feedback about its substantiation and will incorporate NAD’s suggestions as it collects additional data to support its advertising claims.”
Tit for tat?
In March, the NDC made its own complaint to the NAD, challenging descriptions and nomenclature used in digital marketing for Diamond Foundry and its subsidiary, jewellery brand Vrai.
"NAD determined that Diamond Foundry must, consistent with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Jewelry Guides, make an effective disclosure that its diamonds are man-made… [and] distinguish its LGDs from mined diamonds"National Advertising Division statement
“NAD determined that Diamond Foundry must, consistent with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Jewelry Guides, make an effective disclosure that its diamonds are man-made. NAD further found that, consistent with the FTC Jewelry Guides and the FTC Dot Com Disclosure publication, the advertiser should distinguish its LGDs from mined diamonds,” a NAD statement read.
The statement added, “Diamond Foundry’s use of the terms ‘created diamonds,’ ‘diamonds created aboveground,’ ‘sustainably created’ or ‘sustainably grown,’ and ‘world positive,’ as they appear in the context of the challenged advertising do not sufficiently communicate that the diamonds are laboratory-grown and unmined.”
However, NAD commended Diamond Foundry and Vrai’s digital marketing as “replete with clear messaging as to the man-made nature of its diamonds and often plainly contrasts its products with mined diamonds”.
Formerly known as the Advertising Self-Regulatory Council (ASRC), NAD is an independent non-profit organisation that monitors and reviews truth and accuracy in advertising, including product testing, pricing claims, and disclosures. Its cases are often established based on challenges from competing businesses.
It is industry-funded and while not an official regulator, it frequently refers cases to the US Government’s Federal Trade Commission.