Before an audience of the jewelry industry’s leading dignitaries, the Gemological Institute of America unveiled its new “Tower of Brilliance” in November at its Carlsbad, Calif., campus. The world’s largest crystal octahedron, resembling the shape of a natural diamond crystal, was created by D. Swarovski & Co. and donated to GIA along with a significant monetary endowment.
The crystal octahedron composed of an outer glass structure resembling the diamond crystal shape, with a metallic replica of a round brilliant-cut diamond inside. It is housed in a glass tower atop the main entrance of the GIA campus. Motorized, it rotates slowly to reflect light—natural sunlight during the day and spotlights at night—much the way a diamond reflects lights through its facets. The octahedron was designed by Swarovski’s lighting division, which also created “The Cross of Light,” on display at the Basilica di Santa Maria degli Angeli e dei Martiri in the Vatican.
The plan to put a large lighted crystal in the GIA entrance tower originally caused a bit of consternation among local authorities who were afraid that its light-in-a-tower design would be confusing to pilots at the nearby Palomar Airport. However, those issues were ironed out to everyone’s satisfaction, and the crystal was installed and the tower dedicated as planned.
The dedication ceremony took place at 4 p.m. on Nov. 10, under clear skies. GIA president William E. Boyajian welcomed the audience and explained the importance of the single crystal octahedron. His mentor and “The Father of Modern Gemology,” the late Richard T. Liddicoat, wore a perfect crystal octahedron in his lapel, explained Boyajian, who was wearing the same pin on his suit as he spoke. He also praised the dreams of other former GIA leaders such as the late Vincent Manson, one of the primary visionaries of the Carlsbad campus.
Following Boyajian’s remarks, Italian Jewelry Guild president Robyn Lewis addressed the gathering on behalf of the Vicenza Trade Fair Board, which her office represents and which had sponsored the afternoon reception. Helmut Swarovski added his thanks and praise to that of Lewis, and reiterated Swarovski’s commitment to GIA and gemological learning.
Linda Ellis, GIA’s chief development officer, said, “The octahedron is absolutely magnificent, but it represents only a fraction of Swarovski’s total gifts to GIA, which are well in excess of $1 million. Swarovski’s most important financial donation to date is their recent $702,000 contribution to the Institute’s $75 million endowment campaign.”