Most consumers are unaware of the recent grading scandal at the Gemological Institute of America, according to a survey of the Jewelry Consumer Opinion Council fine jewelry consumers.
Of the 2,842 members of the JCOC e-panel (JCOC.net) members polled, 94 percent said they were unaware of the lawsuit filed in May by a former Harry Winston employee claiming that “payments were made” to GIA to have the two stones “upgraded” at the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory in New York City. Several print and broadcast news organizations published the story in December. Later in the month, the suit was settled out of court.
More than half of JCOC.net respondents (polled between Dec. 26 and Jan. 3) have heard of GIA with a majority deeming the Institute “very” to “completely” reputable as a source of gemological research and learning and as a grading laboratory. However, a majority of JCOC.net panelists, more than 60 percent, believe the lawsuit may have a somewhat negative impact on GIA’s reputation.
“The industry knows this is a very important matter, but in the daily lives of the average consumer, it is not,” says Elizabeth Chatelain, Co-CEO of MVI Marketing Ltd., Paso Robles, Calif., creator of the JCOC.net. “Our research has shown that diamond buying consumers want a third party endorsement of the authenticity of their diamond purchase and GIA has always ranked the highest in acceptance over the years. Knowing what we know today, and without a major media exposé, I believe this will not affect diamond purchases.”