JCK’s Shuster chronicles GIA’s legacy of leadership

The extraordinary history of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), from its founding during the depths of the Great Depression through its development into what is today the world’s foremost authority in gemology, is recounted in a new book being released this month. Legacy of Leadership: A History of the Gemological Institute of America was researched and written by award-winning veteran journalist William George Shuster, senior editor of JCK magazine. It will debut at the 2003 GIA League of Honor Dinner in New York tonight.

The Institute’s remarkable evolution, led by founder Robert M. Shipley, Sr., and the three successive leaders who built on and expanded his legacy is chronicled in detail and with numerous little-known anecdotes in the book’s 451 pages.

Shipley, a one-time jeweler and industry official, created GIA in 1931 in order to professionalize the jewelry industry through education, research, and gemological instrumentation. Since its modest beginnings, the Institute has graduated more than 300,000 students at its 13 locations in nine countries around the world and through its Distance Education materials, via mail, and Internet. During the same period, its laboratory has graded millions of the world’s most important diamonds, using grading standards developed by GIA and now universally accepted.

“GIA’s story is as much about people as it is about gemstone facts and figures,” said Bill Boyajian, GIA’s president, in the book’s foreword. “The institute, a nonprofit public benefit corporation throughout most of its existence, has attracted a unique mix of personalities who helped shape the modern gemological world. . . . It was Robert Shipley who created GIA and, thus, the gemological movement in America. But it was [his successor] Richard Liddicoat who truly built GIA and, with it, modern gemology as we know it.”

Shuster, a three-time winner of the Jesse H. Neal Award for Editorial Achievement (business journalism’s version of the Pulitzer Prize), holds numerous other awards and citations for his work since 1980 at JCK magazine, and before that as a newspaper reporter. He was asked by Boyajian to take on the project because of his previous articles about the Institute’s history.

“I was honored to be asked to write GIA’s history, and feel privileged to have done so,” Shuster said. “The GIA story is a fascinating one, involving and affecting myriads of people, not only in North America, but worldwide, in terms of its impact on the gem and jewelry industries and on consumers in general.”

Illustrated with more than 200 archival photographs dating back to the early 20th century, the book was written for jewelers, gemologists, gem enthusiasts, and the public at large. It is an absorbing chronicle of an institution that is unique in America and around the world.

Legacy of Leadership: A History of the Gemological Institute of America will be available for $49.95 at the end of October. To order a copy, call GIA Gem Instruments & Books at 800-421-8161 within the U.S., or 760-603-4200. Fax 760-603-4262 or visit www.gia.edu and click on “Gem Instruments & Books.”