Once More, Slowly, With Feeling

Be careful what you write: People can—and often do—disagree with you. In the past few issues members of the jewelry community have taken issue with an opinion I expressed in the September 2001 JCK , in a column titled “Parsing Diamond Quality.” Since then, there have been a number of thoughtful letters to the editor disagreeing with my perspective on the SI3 clarity grade. Actually, disagreement is a mild description. The reality is that I was raked over the coals.

This is a good thing. JCK is written for everyone in the industry, but first and foremost, it is written for the owners and managers of retail jewelry stores. Our fundamental objective is to provide retail jewelers with thoughtfully written feature stories, articles, and opinion columns that ultimately will help them manage their businesses more effectively and more profitably. “Counterpoint” is an opinion column. It reflects my personal opinion on happenings in the industry. From the very beginning, I have addressed topics based on my personal experiences since 1967, calling on jewelers, department stores, mass merchants from high end to low, and market leaders and followers. Not everyone agrees with what I write. And they fire back—which is good. It makes JCK an interesting and useful journal to read.

Any successful trade publication must provide a balance of news, features, and opinion. Each attempts to engage the reader on topics that are significant to his or her livelihood. It should stimulate your thinking, not put you to sleep with another sales pitch from one quarter or another.

Since the industry adopted GIA’s standards for diamond grading, thousands of practitioners around the globe have been trained by GIA. Other organizations have gotten into the education business as well, and all follow GIA standards for diamond grading. This trend has continued because, with every passing day, retailers are dealing with smarter, better-educated consumers, a consumer protection-driven government, and a consumer-oriented press corps—not to mention the current attention being paid to the industry by nongovernmental organizations (NGOs).

The point of September’s column was to raise the topic for industry discussion. We have heard from several competent and respected members of the industry whose position is that fundamentally and practically SI3 exists because it can be separately defined … because Martin Rapaport prices it in his diamond price list … because JCK gem editor Gary Roskin helped develop the standards for SI3 .

All those points are interesting and true. But in the end, only the creator of the system—GIA—can modify the standards it developed. Otherwise, the industry loses a level of objectivity that’s essential for consistency … and, in my opinion, the standards for judging diamonds become meaningless.

Until GIA decides to weigh in on this topic, the matter remains in the realm of opinion. And, by the way, JCK welcomes yours!