Latest News

AGTA Bans Lab-Grown Gemstones from Shows

April 10, 2024  |  Joshua Freedman
AGTA synthetic diamonds 12.85ct Bicolor Zoisite 1280 USED 041024

The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has declared its trade shows synthetics-free zones from next year.

Starting at the AGTA GemFair Tucson 2025, the organization will not allow exhibitors to display loose lab-grown stones or jewelry comprising them, it said in a statement Tuesday. The ban also applies to lab-grown diamonds, an AGTA spokesperson said.

“Considering how disruptive lab-grown diamonds have been in the market, the AGTA [board of directors] decided to take a stance on man-made gemstones at its fairs to thwart potential confusion,” the statement continued. “It’s perfectly acceptable for AGTA dealers to sell synthetic gems if they choose and so long as they are disclosed, but for the sake of clarity and peace of mind, buyers attending AGTA GemFairs can shop knowing that only natural gems will be available for purchase.”

AGTA, based in Dallas, Texas, describes itself as the “authoritative source on natural colored gemstones.” Its shows are among the most important events on the colored-gemstone industry calendar, with more than 8,000 buyers and 300 exhibitors attending the annual Tucson fair every February.

Synthetics sales will also be banned at the AGTA pavilion at JCK Las Vegas from 2025, the spokesperson noted.

“AGTA felt that it needed to be crystal clear to buyers that when they attend an AGTA show, they know that they are only shopping mined natural gems from the earth,” said Kimberly Collins, president of the AGTA board of directors and owner of Kimberly Collins Colored Gems. “AGTA dealers pride themselves in sourcing superior gems that are rare, beautiful, and natural.”

Synthetic gemstones lack the inherent value and dichotomy of color that their natural counterparts possess, the statement added.

“AGTA was founded in 1981 to represent the interests of wholesale dealers of natural gemstones, cultured and natural pearls,” commented AGTA CEO John Ford. “The board’s decision is consistent with the core purpose upon which AGTA was founded.”

AGTA said it recognized the GIA’s definition of synthetic gems as “man-made material with essentially the same chemical composition, crystal structure, and optical and physical properties as the natural gem material.”

Synthetic gems, however, are not minerals, AGTA noted ­— citing the British Geological Survey’s and US Geological Survey’s definitions of a mineral, which require them to be natural.

The delayed implementation of the ban is due to contracts AGTA has already signed for 2024 shows, the spokesperson explained.

Update, April 14, 2024: Additional information about the ban has been added to this article.

Main image: An emerald-cut, 12.85-carat, untreated bicolor blue and green zoisite by Bryan Lichtenstein of 3090 Gems. The piece received an Editor’s Choice accolade at the AGTA Cutting Edge awards in 2023.

Stay up to date by signing up for our diamond and jewelry industry news and analysis.


AGTA synthetic diamonds 12.85ct Bicolor Zoisite 1280 USED 041024 AGTA Bans Lab-Grown Gemstones from Shows

Share with others


Clear all search filters