June 12, 2001
JVC Says FTC Will Monitor Conflict-Free Claims in Ads
The Federal Trade Commission's Bureau of Consumer Protection is now monitoring jewelry advertising at all levels of the trade for assertions that diamond inventories are free of conflict diamonds, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee announced Monday.
"It's [the FTC's] 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," says Cecilia Gardner, JVC executive director and legal counsel.
"This is a very serious matter," says 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 its advertising (both past advertising and future advertising for periods of time) and generally closely monitor the company for compliance."
What about companies that buy only Australian or Canadian diamonds, for example? "The FTC is of the opinion that there are no guarantees for country of origin, until an international system is set into place," says Gardner. "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.
"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.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue