The Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) today announced that the latest development in the ongoing Conflict Diamonds issue is advertising awareness by the Federal Trade Commission’s Bureau of Consumer Protection.
“The attorney for the FTC’s Bureau of Consumer Protection, Robin Spector, has contacted us to let our office know that the FTC is aware of the Conflict Diamonds issue. As a result, they are now monitoring jewelry advertising (at all levels of the trade) for assertions that diamond inventories are free of conflict diamonds,” says JVC’s Executive Director and Legal Counsel Cecilia L. Gardner. “It is their legal opinion that absolutely nothing can be considered ‘conflict-free’ at this point in time, until a proven international certification system can be put in place and monitored. Any such claims would be unsubstantiated and therefore deceptive, according to the FTC.”
“This is a very serious matter,” continues Gardner. “The FTC has civil enforcement sanctions they can follow for persons or companies they find in violation of this policy. This means they can audit a firm’s books, monitor their advertising (both past advertising and future advertising for periods of time) and generally closely monitor the company for compliance.”
What about firms that only buy, for example, Australian or Canadian diamonds? “The FTC is of the opinion that there are no guarantees for country of origin, until an international system is set into place. Along with the FTC, we at the JVC also strongly advise that firms avoid asserting that their diamond inventories are guaranteed to be conflict free until a system is in place, worldwide. The World Diamond Council is continuing to work to make this a reality as quickly as possible,” Gardner concludes.
So, what should companies be doing? “We recommend that trade members write a letter to their suppliers asking for written assurance that the firm(s) they are buying from are making their best efforts to avoid intentionally trading in conflict diamonds. In turn, the trade members can then communicate this assurance to their customers,” adds Gardner.