The International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has issued a new standard for describing synthetic diamonds.
ISO is an international standard-setting body composed of representatives from various national standards organisations which promotes worldwide proprietary, industrial and commercial standards.
Rob Bates of JCK summarises the change:
the ISO standard says the unmodified term diamond can be used only in reference to natural diamonds. It defines a natural stone as “one formed completely by nature without human intervention during the formation.”
That makes sense, although the FTC and ISO part company in several ways. The ISO allows marketers to use only the terms laboratory-created, laboratory-grown, and synthetic to describe nonnatural diamonds. The FTC allows those terms as well as man-made and (company name)-created, says Cecilia Gardner, president and CEO of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee.
In perhaps the pickiest—even pedantic—part of the new standard, it explicitly forbids any abbreviations of its approved terms, such as lab-grown and lab-created. Those abbreviations are common in the trade, so much so that the World Federation of Diamond Bourses, in its release hailing the new standard, used the term lab-grown.
The WFDB has praised the new standard, responding with the press release shown below.
From the office of the Secretariat of the World Federation of Diamond Bourses:
WFDB President Ernie Blom Praises New ISO Standard For Creating Clarity Over Natural and Synthetic Diamonds
Antwerp, Belgium – July 28, 2015: World Federation of Diamond Bourses (WFDB)
President Ernie Blom has praised the release of ISO International Standard 18323: Jewellery – Consumer confidence in the diamond industry. Providing a series of definitions which aim to provide further clarity for traders and to maintain consumer confidence in the diamond industry as a whole, the WFDB was involved in formulating them, said Blom. The ISO ruling defines a diamond as something that was “created by nature”; it also says that “the denomination ‘diamond’ without further specification always implies ‘natural diamond”‘.
“The importance of this standard lies in the fact that it sets out which nomenclature can be used and which cannot in the purchase and sale of diamonds, treated diamonds and synthetic diamonds,” Blom said. “As ISO says: ‘ISO 18323:2015 will cover the nomenclature to be used by those involved in the buying and selling of diamonds, treated diamonds, synthetic diamonds, composite diamonds and imitations of diamonds.’
“ISO notes very clearly the issues that the WFDB has been emphasizing for some time: the need for integrity and transparency to ensure that consumers have total confidence in our products. Buyers do not usually have the technical knowledge to understand the many aspects of diamonds and so they are reliant on correct and honest labeling.
“Regarding synthetic diamonds, which is a critical issue for the diamond business, the ISO standard sets out descriptions for synthetic diamonds plainly and precisely. It points out the growth in production in recent years, and that lab-grown diamonds have essentially the same chemical and physical (including optical) properties as a natural, mined diamond. We have long pointed out the importance of consumers knowing exactly what type of diamond is being offered to them, and this new standard confirms this.”
Blom explained that the first moves to create a new ISO standard began seven years ago in Europe and the WFDB has had a strong input, along with other industry stakeholders. “I am delighted that the Chairman of the Technical Committee that oversaw the formulation of ISO International Standard 18323 is none other than Harry Levy, President of the London Diamond Bourse.
“I would highly recommend that diamond industry members view information regarding the new ISO standard.” The web site address is: