Monday, May 20, 2024
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AGTA Implements Ban on Lab-Grown Diamonds and Gemstones at GemFair

Dallas—In a significant move, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has declared that exhibitors will be prohibited from vending lab-grown diamonds or colored gemstones at the AGTA GemFair, starting from next year’s event in Tucson.

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The announcement of AGTA’s decision was received by National Jeweler through an emailed news release on Wednesday morning. Although the release was briefly accessible on the AGTA website, it was removed by Wednesday evening due to what AGTA CEO John W. Ford Sr. described as an error. Ford assured that the release would be reinstated today.

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As per the released statement, AGTA’s latest regulation prohibits the showcasing of loose gemstones or jewelry containing non-natural gemstones, including those that are man-made, synthetic, or lab-grown. While AGTA dealers are permitted to sell lab-grown gems with full disclosure, only natural gems will be permitted for sale at GemFair.

The rationale behind the ban, according to AGTA, is to prevent potential confusion within the industry, particularly concerning lab-grown diamonds, which have caused disruption in the market. AGTA expressed concerns about the impact of synthetics on the colored gemstone industry, despite the existence of lab-grown colored stones for over a century.

In response to queries regarding the perceived confusion in the colored gemstone market, Ford cited the upheaval caused by synthetics in the diamond industry and noted concerns voiced by AGTA members regarding potential adverse effects on the colored gemstone sector.

While AGTA’s decision has garnered attention, its impact on GemFair exhibitors appears limited, as only a small fraction of them sell lab-grown gemstones. Out of the 260 exhibitors of loose or set gemstones at the 2024 AGTA GemFair Tucson, only two list synthetic gemstones in the AGTA Source Directory, according to Ford.

Ford further stated that the majority of exhibitors have responded positively to the renewal notices for the 2025 AGTA GemFair Tucson, indicating strong support for the decision.

AGTA emphasized in its release that lab-grown gemstones lack the inherent value of natural gemstones, which are prized for their rarity and uniqueness. Kimberly Collins, AGTA board president, reiterated the association’s commitment to offering superior natural gems sourced from the earth, highlighting the pride AGTA dealers take in providing rare, beautiful, and natural gems.

Additionally, AGTA underscored that synthetic gems do not qualify as minerals, aligning with definitions from both the British Geological Survey and the U.S. Geological Survey, which emphasize the natural origin of minerals. AGTA board member John Bradshaw emphasized the distinction, stating that synthetics cannot be considered minerals as they are not naturally occurring.

The AGTA’s stance aims to maintain clarity for buyers, ensuring that they understand they are exclusively purchasing naturally mined gems when attending AGTA shows.

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