Kinetique Ltd t/a Ethica Diamonds’ own website, www.ethica.diamonds, seen on 12 March 2021, included the heading “ETHICA diamonds KIND, NOT MINED” on a range of web pages.
The main tab on the website “shop” included three options of “engagement rings”, “wedding rings” and “diamond jewellery”. A further image included the text “Introducing Carbon Neutral Diamonds. Just a Diamond. Minus the Mining.”
Clicking on that image took users to a page titled “THE STORY OF OUR LAB-GROWN DIAMONDS”. Further text stated “Our Kind, not Mined Diamonds grow above the Earth, in laboratories that are mimicking the natural growth process of a mined diamond, and are the first diamonds in the world to be grown using renewable energy”. A box below that included the text “JUST A DIAMOND MINUS THE MINING” and further text included “Our lab grown diamonds have the same physical, atomic and optical elemental properties as mined diamonds – But there’s a fundamental difference — they are completely sustainable, meaning truly ethical. These diamonds represent an alignment between raw beauty & social/environmental sustainability, making them the most beautiful diamonds on Earth that you’ll be proud to wear”.
On a page headed “WOMEN’S DIAMOND SET BANDS”, text stated “Our diamond bands are beautiful symbols of your lasting love. Shop our collection of ethical diamond bands for weddings or anniversaries. Most of these rings are available with man-made diamonds set half, three quarters or all of the way around the band, creating an elegant display for each gem. All of our rings are individually made to order and hand set with ethical diamonds made in a lab, with the highest standards being E colour and VVS1 clarity”.
A product page for the “ANAIA” ring included an infographic that stated “Our stones are grown using advanced diamond technology which creates a unique gemstone that is of the highest specification […]”. Below that, the page stated “As well as the Ethica Diamond, a diamond alternative, we can set most items with fully certified lab grown carbon neutral diamonds”.
A page headed “LEARN ABOUT DIAMONDS” stated “WHAT IS A DIAMOND?”. Text below that included “Let’s explore the differences and similarities that are available. There are two broad types – natural diamonds and synthetic or lab-grown diamonds. There are also gemstones called simulant diamonds, which are like [italicised] diamonds but not quite”. The page included definitions of diamond, “laboratory diamond”, cubic zirconia and “THE ETHICA DIAMOND”, which it stated was “a unique and very specific lab grown gemstone which is very close in structure, composition and hardness to diamond offering the same toughness and longevity. It is grown under strict conditions and is hand cut, polished and fully faceted to exact diamond proportions as natural diamonds are cut from the rough, which results in incredible depth and realism. This stone truly radiates the same sparkle and brilliance as the most expensive Earth mined diamonds and are made to last forever”.
The page “DIAMOND BUYING GUIDE” stated “In order to get the perfect diamond and ensure you are buying the right diamond for your loved one there are several factors to consider”. The page discussed seven factors including “DIAMOND CUT”, under which the sub-heading “HEARTS AND ARROWS DIAMONDS” stated “Every Ethica Diamond is individually hand cut to the highest diamond grading guidelines and every round brilliant Ethica Diamond is cut to Hearts and Arrows specification.” Other factors listed were: “DIAMOND CLARITY”; “DIAMOND COLOUR”; “DIAMOND CARAT”; “DIAMOND CERTIFICATION & INSCRIPTION”; “DIAMOND CONFLICT”, and; “DIAMOND COST”.
The page “FAQ” included the question “Are your gemstones diamond?”. The response included: “The most important aspect for us, is to give our customers a credible product that is priced fairly, looks and behaves every bit like a premium quality diamond together with all the ethical benefits without the artificial high cost. The Ethica Diamond is grown in a laboratory utilising advanced diamond technology which creates a unique gemstone optically identical to diamond and of the highest quality, colour and clarity”.
Diotima&Co Ltd, who understood that Kinetique Ltd’s diamonds were made of substitute materials and were not laboratory-grown diamonds, challenged whether the ad was misleading.
Kinetique Ltd t/a Ethica Diamonds responded that they sold two products. The Ethica Diamond, which they described as a gemstone, was a man-made alternative to diamonds. They confirmed that the product was made from a laboratory-grown material, which was cut and faceted using benchmark cutting standards that were used to cut diamonds. The other product sold under the overall brand Ethica Diamonds, (though not called the Ethica Diamond) was a laboratory diamond made by Diamond Foundry.
Ethica Diamonds said that the brand name "Ethica Diamonds” referred to all of their products, including the Ethica Diamond product and the Diamond Foundry product. Each product page explained that their rings could be set with either their Ethica Diamond product or the Diamond Foundry product, and consumers could contact them for more information. They said that in future, their website would be updated to include the pricing points for both stones rather than only the price of the Ethica Diamond.Ethica Diamonds explained, with reference to the “Learn about diamonds”, “Diamond buying guide” and “FAQ” pages of their website, that these were educational pages to explain to consumers the differences between the products they sold and other types of diamond that were on the market.
In support of their complaint, Diotima&Co Ltd had referenced The National Association of Jewellers’ “Diamond Terminology Guideline”. Ethica Diamonds said that the guidance was outdated, and represented the views of the natural diamonds industry. They said that it did not accurately guide retailers selling anything other than a natural diamond.
Ethica Diamonds said that the website referred to the Ethica Diamond as an ethical alternative to diamond. With reference to the use of the term “Ethica Diamond”, alongside the reference “Kind not mined”, they said that a natural diamond was mined by definition, and therefore that “Kind not mined” would be understood by consumers to mean that the stone was manufactured or created, rather than mined.
They said that they used the following terms for their branded product, the Ethica Diamond: man-made alternative; diamond alternative; Ethica Diamond (using capitalised E and D, to indicate a branded name); man-made gemstone; lab created gemstone; and diamond simulant. Ethica Diamonds stated that consumers would understand these terms to mean that the product was a man-made alternative to diamonds. They referred to search engine results and articles which listed moissanite as a “diamond alternative”, and used the term “alternative” to refer to diamond simulants like the Ethica Diamond. They also referred to reviews by consumers, and stated that they did not believe that their consumers were being misled by the terminology used on their website.
The ASA considered that consumers would understand the word “diamond” to mean a mineral consisting of crystallised carbon that was entirely created by nature. We further considered that consumers would be unlikely to be aware of the range of diamond alternatives that were available and that it was therefore necessary that ads for diamond alternatives provided clear qualification as to the nature of the product in order to avoid misleading consumers as to the composition of the product.
We noted The National Association of Jewellers’ Diamond Terminology Guideline (the Guideline), which had the status of assured advice from Trading Standards. The Guideline provided that there was a difference between diamond, which it defined as a mineral created by nature, and synthetic diamonds, that were artificial, laboratory-grown products which had the same physical characteristics as a natural diamond. They referred to other products as imitation diamond or diamond simulant, which were either natural or artificial products that imitated the appearance of a diamond without having its chemical composition. The terms ‘imitation diamond’ and ‘diamond simulant’ included items made from other products, or gemstones that were then coated in synthetic diamond. It further stated that a gemstone was a mineral of natural origin. The guidance provided that when referring to synthetic or laboratory-grown diamonds, marketers should use a qualification such as “laboratory-grown”. The guidance stated that misleading terms may include “eco-friendly diamond” or “vegan diamond”.
We assessed whether the ad complied with the CAP Code.Ethica Diamonds had told us that they used the following terms to describe their products: man-made alternative; diamond alternative; Ethica Diamond (using capitalised E and D, to indicate a branded name); man-made gemstone; lab created gemstone; and diamond simulant.We considered that the name “Ethica Diamond” would be understood by consumers to mean that the products sold under that name were natural diamonds. We considered the term “Ethica Diamond” in conjunction with “Kind not mined” might be understood by some consumers to mean that some or all of the advertiser’s products were not natural, mined diamonds. However, we considered it was sufficiently ambiguous that many consumers would still expect that products sold under the name Ethica Diaomonds were natural diamonds without further clarification.
In the context of a website relating to a brand called “Ethica Diamond”, we considered that consumers would understand the term “man-made alternative” to mean that the products were man-made stones that had the same or a similar composition to diamond. Similarly, we considered that “diamond alternative” in the context of the website to mean that products were alternative stones that were similar to diamonds. We considered that the terms “man-made gemstone” and “lab created gemstone” would be understood to refer to products that had a similar or the same chemical composition to mined gemstones (specifically diamond, in the context of the website), but were created in a laboratory. We considered that consumers would understand the term “diamond simulant” to mean a product that was similar in appearance to diamond, but was not itself a diamond.We understood that the Ethica Diamond was an imitation diamond or diamond simulant, because it was a man-made product consisting of synthetic moissonite which had been coated in synthetic diamond. We considered it did not meet the definition of what consumers would understand from the name “Ethica Diamond” or the terms “diamond”, “man-made alternative”, “diamond alternative”, “man-made gemstone” or “lab created gemstone”. We therefore considered that use of those terms to refer to the product sold by Ethica Diamond was misleading.
We noted that the Ethica Diamonds website also used other terms, including “ethical diamond”, and “diamond band” on some product pages. We considered that because consumers would understand diamonds to be a natural mineral, rather than an imitation diamond, the use of those terms was misleading.
We also considered that the overall presentation of the website, including pages such as the “DIAMOND BUYERS GUIDE” and claims such as “DIAMOND CLARITY”, “DIAMOND COLOUR”, “DIAMOND CARAT”, “DIAMOND CERTIFICATION & INSCRIPTION”, “DIAMOND CONFLICT” and “DIAMOND COST” did not draw a distinction between the Ethica Diamonds and diamonds. We therefore considered that the overall impression of the website would be understood to mean that Ethica Diamonds were natural diamonds.We understood that the other product sold by Ethica Diamonds, the Diamond Foundry laboratory-grown diamond, was a product that matched the chemical composition of a diamond but was created in a laboratory. However, the term “Carbon neutral diamond” was used to describe that product. We considered the qualifier “Carbon neutral” did not communicate to consumers that the product was a laboratory-grown diamond, rather than a natural diamond, and we therefore considered use of that term misleading.
We acknowledged that the website included web pages which described the differences between diamonds, laboratory grown diamonds and imitation diamonds. However, because the overall impression of the ad, created by the repeated uses of terms which did not make clear that the Ethica Diamond was a diamond simulant, was that the Ethica Diamond product was natural diamond, we considered that the explanatory text on those separate pages was not an adequate qualification to the main claim, of “diamond”.
We considered that, where the product was an imitation diamond, or diamond simulant, as was the case with the Ethica Diamond, it was misleading to describe it as “diamond” unless used directly alongside the qualifiers “imitation” or “simulant” - for example, “imitation diamond” or “diamond simulant”. While we considered that the term “diamond alternative” did not make sufficiently clear that the product was a diamond simulant, we considered the description “alternative to diamond” would be acceptable so long as it was used in close conjunction with those terms. We further considered that, where the product was a laboratory-grown diamond such as the Diamond Foundry product, the term “diamond” was misleading unless an appropriate identifier, such as “laboratory-grown diamond”, or “synthetic diamond” was used. Because that was not the case, we concluded that the ad was misleading.
The ad breached CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Marketing communications must not mislead the consumer by omitting material information. They must not mislead by hiding material information or presenting it in an unclear, unintelligible, ambiguous or untimely manner.
Material information is information that the consumer needs to make informed decisions in relation to a product. Whether the omission or presentation of material information is likely to mislead the consumer depends on the context, the medium and, if the medium of the marketing communication is constrained by time or space, the measures that the marketer takes to make that information available to the consumer by other means. (Misleading advertising) and 3.9 3.9 Marketing communications must state significant limitations and qualifications. Qualifications may clarify but must not contradict the claims that they qualify. (Qualification).
The ad must not appear again in its current form. We told Kinetique Ltd t/a Ethica Diamonds not to describe products that did not have the same chemical composition as diamond as “diamond” in isolation. We told them that when describing products that were laboratory grown or synthetic diamonds, the term “diamond” should always be accompanied by an identifier that made clear the nature of the product. For example where the product was an imitation diamond, “imitation diamond” or “diamond simulant” would be appropriate descriptive terms. Where the product was a laboratory-grown diamond such as the Diamond Foundry product, a term such as “laboratory-grown diamond”, or “synthetic diamond” should be used.