A Letter to Bill Boyajian

Dear Bill,

Your departure from GIA has caused real concern in a number of quarters. The gem and jewelry industry from a long-term perspective will be diminished by your leaving. Many in the industry think it was a mistake for you and GIA to part company.

But rather than rehash a decision that has been made and implemented, it is appropriate to use this space to recognize some of the contributions you’ve made to GIA, to the gem and jewelry businesses, and to many individuals, both inside and outside GIA. I’ve made phone calls to industry people to ask them what they think your contributions to GIA and the industry are.

The American Gem Trade Association was first to express appreciation for your work over the past 20 years as GIA’s president and regret over your resignation. The words used in the AGTA letter to describe your tenure there include these: vision, leadership, passion, education, integrity, and commitment.

It is not surprising that others expressed those concepts similarly. Some of the impressions that you created in their minds are:

  • Brought GIA into the 21st century

  • Possessed vision beyond the imagination of most of us

  • Took GIA from a modest enclave of gemologists to a world-class institution

  • Made a valiant effort to balance the academic world with the realities of the business world

  • Provided jewelers with third-party credibility with grading reports

  • Turned GIA into an international presence

  • Turned GIA into one of the largest correspondence educational institutions in the United States

  • Hired and developed great talent

  • Developed a culture that encouraged creativity and innovation

  • Made everyone associated with GIA—whether an employee or a friend of the institute—feel the importance of their contributions

  • Turned GIA into a legitimate institution of higher learning for gems and gemology

  • Was a prime defender of natural gemstones and recognized the importance of laboratories in identifying the results of new technologies

Looking back over a career of accomplishment, it must be hard to deal with the pain of separation from an organization and colleagues with whom you have worked and succeeded for so many years. Take with you the knowledge and belief that GIA and, indeed, the entire industry is better for your leadership during your tenure there.

In all of your addresses to the industry you’ve talked about the contributions of Robert M. Shipley Sr. and Richard T. Liddicoat. Your accomplishments at GIA are no less significant. You built and developed what they started. In future years, when a new president of GIA recounts the contributions of the Institute to the industry, your name will be as prominent as Shipley’s and Liddicoat’s.