The Gemological Institute of America was recently called upon by federal and local law enforcement to provide a full day of diamond and gem training. The event, the first for GIA, was held last month at GIA’s New York City Education facility, with 24 law enforcement officials in attendance, including representatives from Belgium and Canada, as well as specialized NYPD detective units and FBI agents from New York, New Jersey, Baltimore, and Washington, D.C.
The program was designed to enhance attendees’ knowledge of gemology in order to aid in the investigation and prosecution of criminal cases. According to the Jewelers’ Security Alliance, the jewelry industry lost more than $105 million in 2006 due to crime.
GIA New York’s director of Education, Dan Campbell spearheaded the program. He covered topics as diverse as diamond characteristics and inscriptions, colored stones, synthetic gems, and the use of microscopes and loupes. He also discussed standard methods for grading diamond clarity, color, and cut, along with determining carat weight.
Ivy Cutler, a GIA staff gemologist who serves as the laboratory’s lead liaison with law enforcement, explained how agents can use the expertise and services of the GIA Laboratory to identify stolen jewels or assist with prosecution. Bob Frank, vice president of JSA, presented an overview of the association and its focus on industry crime.
Brian J. Nadeau, supervisory special agent for The FBI’s Major Theft Unit, played a key role in preparing for the training day program.
“The FBI welcomes the opportunity to work with GIA in this effort,” said Nadeau. “Specialized training is always helpful to law enforcement, and this class provided FBI agents with good information to enhance future jewelry and gem investigations.”
For GIA, deterring gem theft and assisting in the recovery of stolen property is an important part of its mission to protect the public’s trust in gems and jewelry. According to Larry Wright, GIA’s director of Corporate Security, the response from law enforcement officials attending the event was very positive.
“Our work with law enforcement is very important to us, and as a non-profit, public benefit organization, we see it as our role to help them in whatever way we can,” Wright said. “We’re very positive about the potential for this training program, which will ultimately benefit consumers and the trade alike on a global level.”
The GIA team, along with law enforcement, is now evaluating attendee feedback to adjust, enhance, and further provide the highest standard of training and education to meet the specific needs of law enforcement. GIA may then make this training available in the future for other law enforcement agencies.