Press Release: AGTA Board of Directors Amends Trade Show Rules for Synthetic Gemstones

DALLAS. April 9, 2024. The Board of Directors (BOD) for the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) recently amended its trade show rules for lab-grown, man-made, and/or synthetic gemstones.

Starting at the AGTA GemFair Tucson 2025, no exhibitor may display loose gemstones or jewelry comprising nonnatural gemstones—ones that are man-made, synthetic, or lab grown—at any AGTA show. To make this decision, AGTA recognized the GIA description 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.”

Further, synthetic gems are not minerals, which is why AGTA recognizes the following two similar definitions of the word from geological authorities. First, the British Geological Survey’s definition of a mineral is “a naturally occurring substance with distinctive chemical and physical properties, composition, and atomic structure.” Second, the AGTA agrees with the U.S. Geological Survey’s definition of a mineral as a “naturally occurring inorganic element or compound having an orderly internal structure and characteristic chemical composition, crystal form, and physical properties.

“The definitions are essentially the same, but the keyword in both that is important is use of the word ‘natural,’” explains John Bradshaw of John J. Bradshaw and an AGTA Board Member. “It’s important to indicate that synthetic gems are not considered minerals because minerals are natural, and synthetics are not.”

Natural Alexandrite
Natural Alexandrite

Considering how disruptive lab-grown Diamonds have been in the market, the AGTA BOD decided to take a stance on man-made gemstones at its fairs to thwart potential confusion. 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 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,” adds Kimberly Collins, BOD President and Owner of Kimberly Collins Colored Gems. “AGTA dealers pride themselves in sourcing superior gems that are rare, beautiful, and natural.”

Further, synthetic gemstones lack the value inherent to natural gemstones, and there is a great dichotomy of color that occurs in natural, mined colored gemstones that cannot be duplicated in synthetics.

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

For more information, please contact [email protected] or 800-972-1162.

The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) is a not‐for‐profit association serving the colored gemstone and cultured Pearl industry since 1981. Headquartered in Dallas, members are trade professionals based in the U.S. and Canada, and AGTA is widely regarded as “The Authority in Color.” AGTA’s activities include organizing educational programs, trade shows, and printed materials and maintaining strong relationships with government officials and other jewelry trade groups. AGTA is committed to upholding the highest ethical standards and practices.