During the past few months the industry has witnessed the unfolding of a genuine tragedy. The allegations of wrongdoing at the Gemological Institute of America have morphed into a deluge of insider talk. It seems that everyone has a story to tell about what’s going on in New York; Carlsbad, Calif.; and the grading bribery cases. Most disturbing of all are the vitriolic attacks on Bill Boyajian, Ralph Destino, and the venerable institution of GIA. It is as though no one is thinking about the long-term consequences.
One of the most disturbing examples is the venom coming from a publishing source claiming to have inside sources within GIA feeding the truth to the writer. Of course, the writer cannot name his sources, but he is free to personally attack Boyajian, Destino, and GIA with impunity.
What is the motive behind these continuing attacks? What did Boyajian and company ever do to merit this special kind of attention from an industry publication? Who stands to gain from a serious decline in GIA’s reputation?
Martin Rapaport in many of his talks to industry groups has characterized diamantaires as a flinty group. I have always taken that to mean the people in the diamond trade are sharp in their thinking, trading, and deal making. They are always looking for an edge to exploit or a way to gain an advantage. In gaining that advantage over a lifetime, success, reward, and recognition walk hand in hand. Success also has a way of creating egos larger than life as well as envious enemies. But envy cloaked in righteous indignation in search of market share has gone a step too far. Whether it is a publication or a gem lab or diamantaires with an ax to grind, enough is enough.
The jewelry industry depends on trust. These continuing attacks on GIA’s board and management may produce a whirlwind of such intrusive attention that the very foundation of the business may be affected. The Wall Street Journal is a fine and well-written publication. It has already published two major stories on the scandal. There is talk that the Journal is continuing to probe for more. All the industry needs is an ABC, CBS, or NBC exposé on the accuracy of grading reports to have millions of consumers nationwide with GIA grading reports streaming into jewelry stores demanding regrading. Don’t think it can’t happen. Some years ago the jewelry market in Philadelphia experienced a grading scandal that a TV consumer reporter picked up. Hundreds, if not thousands, of area consumers showed up at a local hotel to have their diamonds regraded.
Shakespeare wrote several times about names. In Romeo and Juliet he penned, “What’s in a name?” In Macbeth he wrote, “He who steals my pocketbook steals trash. He who steals my name steals all.” In the first example, the Bard as a marketer makes an astute statement on contemporary branding. In the second, his words apply to the personal attacks on Bill Boyajian and GIA. Enough is enough. Let the GIA board fix the problem.