Pilot Project Launched to do Sustainability Analysis on LGD Producers & Retailers

05/10/2019 15:59

Back in May of this year, the Lab Grown Diamond Council (LGDC) trade organization retained a third-party certifier and standards developer, SCS Global Services (SCS), to audit and analyze lab grown diamonds against a stringent set of sustainability criteria. SCS has now launched a pilot project for leading producers and retailers of synthetic diamonds.

In the past couple of years, lab-grown diamonds have gained more legitimacy and the market is growing. In an effort to spur that growth, some of the leading companies in the synthetic-diamond business pursued an aggressive marketing strategy claiming their environmental and ethical superiority over natural diamonds, without substantiating those claims. This prompted a warning by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC), in part concerning these sustainability claims: "Sellers must have a reasonable basis for making such claims for any products and the claims should be adequately qualified to avoid deception,” they wrote to several leading companies. Up until now, the FTC added, "it is highly unlikely that they can substantiate all reasonable interpretations of these claims."

This created the need to develop a standard not only prevent fraud, but to independently substantiate and differentiate product sustainability claims, which is what SCS is now piloting. The sustainability performance criteria address key environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues, including a commitment to becoming climate neutral. These criteria will be reviewed through a multi-stakeholder process, informed by the results of the pilot assessments. A multi-stakeholder Standard Review Committee is being established to oversee the process, which will include academia, producers, retailers, nonprofit organizations, and other experts in the field. “The pilot audits mark an important step in the process of certifying sustainability,” says Stanley Mathuram, SCS Vice President. “Through the audits, we will be able to ground-truth assumptions about laboratory operations involved in the creation of lab-grown diamonds, ensure that the standard’s criteria fully capture the potential range of issues, and better equip the Standard Review Committee to do its work.”

According to Chris Casey, president of the New York-based Lab Grown Diamond Council or LGDC, compliance with labour and environmental standards are consumers’ top concerns when purchasing any kind of gemstones and other products. This is why his organization decided to commission third-party SCS Global Services to create a sustainability standard for the industry. “Today’s younger consumers want insight into the sourcing of virtually every product they purchase. When it comes to lab-grown diamonds, they are asking retail sales associates whether they are ‘eco-friendly’ or ‘sustainable’. The challenge is that these terms are currently unsubstantiated.”