Bill Boyajian, the former president of the Gemological Institute of America, won the 2013 Robert M. Shipley Award, the American Gem Society’s highest honor, at the group’s annual Conclave in Phoenix on April 26.
In presenting Boyajian with the award, past winner Cos Altobelli hailed Boyajian’s contributions to GIA and the AGS, for whose lab he has consulted on business development. Altobelli also singled out Boyajian’s “outstanding commitment to professional excellence, education, innovation, and customer and community service.”
“I’m not keen on surprises, but this is a good one,” a touched Boyajian said when accepting his award. “I’ve always felt how fortunate I am, and how grateful I am, to have a wonderful career in a great industry that I love, with people that have become friends. I’m so lucky that I got a chance to live the American dream.”
“All I wanted to do is make a difference,” he added. “I thank you from the bottom of my heart to be included [among past winners], and I will always support the GIA and American Gem Society.”
He paid tribute to his family and to former GIA president and chairman Richard Liddicoat: “People don’t realize what a great leader he was.… It was just a privilege to be around him—when he walked in the room you realized you were in the presence of someone special.”
Boyajian with his family
Boyajian now heads Bill Boyajian Associates, and has written a book, Developing the Mind of a Leader—Your Path to Lead and Inspire People.
“Bill’s contributions to the jewelry industry have been extensive,” said Ruth Batson, CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories, in a statement. “He has volunteered his time to numerous jewelry organizations, and he’s also been a strong advocate and resource for the AGS Laboratories—and for the Society.”