The Gemological Institute of America has honored Ralph Destino, GIA chairman emeritus, with its Richard T. Liddicoat Award for Distinguished Achievement, the highest tribute the Institute can bestow upon an individual.
Donna Baker, GIA president and chief executive officer, presented the honor to Destino during a Nov. 17 surprise ceremony at the Institute’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., following the second 2008 GIA Board of Governors’ meeting.
The award was initiated in 1994 to be conferred upon a person who demonstrates extraordinary commitment to furthering the Institute’s mission. This significant recognition is granted on an infrequent basis and goes only to individuals who truly exemplify excellence. Destino is the 12th recipient of the Liddicoat Award.
“This year, the Richard T. Liddicoat Award for Distinguished Achievement goes to an individual who truly embodies the characteristics that made Mr. Liddicoat so great, and who sets an example for all of us in our service to the industry and the public,” Baker said.
“Ralph, I am honored to pay tribute to you for your 16 years of service to GIA,” Baker continued. “Your time at the helm as executive chairman of our Board of Governors, and then as GIA chairman, was characterized by your selfless and remarkable contributions. Your leadership, enthusiasm, professionalism, and eloquence have distinguished you at GIA and helped strengthen our ability to fulfill our mission of protecting the public trust in gems and jewelry.”
Destino first joined GIA’s Board of Governors in 1992 and served as its executive chairman from 1997 to 2005. At that time, he became chairman of GIA. In addition, he played a key role in establishing the Carlsbad campus by serving as chair of GIA’s Vision 2000 Campaign starting in 1991. In 1997, he led a philanthropic effort to the GIA Richard T. Liddicoat Library and Information Center on behalf of Cartier, naming the Cartier Rare Book Repository & Archives.
“During these years he elevated the way in which the world sees GIA—and the way we see ourselves,” Baker said. “GIA has always had a proud and enduring legacy, and yet Ralph has taken the Institute’s name, visibility, and global reach to a new height.”
Destino was born and raised in Providence, R.I., and graduated from Dartmouth College. He joined Cartier Inc. in 1973 as president of Cartier Far East and became president of Cartier USA in 1976. He also led the advance of the company’s wholesale division, Les Must de Cartier Inc. Named chairman of Cartier Inc. in 1988, he retired in 1999 and was named its chairman emeritus.
Destino contributed his time and talent to more than 15 other organizations. In the gem and jewelry industry. He served as director of Van Cleef & Arpels Inc., chair of the American Watch Guild, chair of the Editorial Advisory Board of National Jeweler magazine, chair of the Jewelry Information Center, director of Jewelers of America, and as a board member for the Fashion Institute of Technology.
He served as chair of the American Cancer Society in New York for 14 years, as a director of the United Way of New York City for more than 18 years, and as a director of the Brain Trauma Foundation.
He has received many other awards throughout his life, including the International Humanitarian Award from Boys’ Towns of Italy, the Torch of Liberty Award from the Anti-Defamation League, the Human Relations Award from the American Jewish Committee, the Distinguished Service Award from the American Cancer Society, the Hall of Fame Award from the Diamond Industry Council, and the Triple Zero Award from the American Gem Society.
In 1997 Destino was awarded the Ellis Island Medal of Honor and in 1999 he was inducted into the Retail Jewelers Hall of Fame.
“You exemplify the generosity, passion, commitment, and strength imbued by Richard T. Liddicoat and you justly deserve the praise and honor of the award that carries his name,” Baker said. I am proud and honored to know you, to work with you, and to award you with GIA’s top honor: The Richard T. Liddicoat Award for Distinguished Achievement.”
In receiving his award, Destino said, “I am doubly grateful to receive this award, first because it carries the name of a man I hugely admired, and, second, because it comes from an Institute whose name is synonymous with the highest level of integrity. What could be more treasured—and humbling—than that combination?”
Caption: Donna Baker presents Ralph Destino with the Richard T. Liddicoat Award for Distinguished Achievement. Photo GIA