GIA Looks To Stretch Potential in 2004 Projects

At the summer meeting of the Gemological Institute of America’s International Executive Committee, held July 28 at the Plaza Hotel in New York, GIA president William Boyajian and other top GIA leaders brought an audience of industry leaders up to date on the institute’s progress on both the scientific and educational fronts.

The theme “Stretching Our Potential” will be emphasized in all GIA programs, including education, laboratory, research, and GIA Gem Instruments, in 2004.

In the research arena, GIA’s primary focus for 2004 will be to finish its diamond cut project and begin including cut on its diamond grading reports, and to continue to analyze and further develop identification and detection methods for both high-pressure/high-temperature (HPHT) treatment of diamonds and bulk-diffusion treatment of sapphires. Tom Moses outlined the institute’s current findings in both HPHT diamond and bulk-diffused corundum, as well as golden cultured pearls. Golden pearls are significantly more prevalent than they were five years ago, he said, and while it is difficult to tell natural from treated specimens, it can be done. In terms of mass detection systems for HPHT and bulk diffusion, GIA is “cautiously optimistic,” he said. Separately, he addressed the issue of synthetic diamonds grown by chemical vapor deposition (CVD), which he said are not likely to become undetectable. Certain aspects of their growth are different from diamonds found in nature, and these diagnostic criteria would be very hard to eliminate, he said.

Tom Yonelunas detailed the significant increases in GIA’s laboratory business, which in some categories has grown more than 150% since 2000. The institute’s expansion plans include developing another 10.76 acres in Carlsbad, Calif., and moving from its current New York location in the 580 Fifth Ave. jewelry building to larger quarters and expanding the laboratory.

In the marketing arena, GIA is making a concerted effort to boost its name recognition and value in both consumer and trade marketplaces, with a 2004 theme of “Ensuring the Public Trust, One Person at a Time.” GIA has been positioning itself for more public outreach, such as its involvement with the Splendor of Diamonds exhibit at the Smithsonian Institute and its two annual career fairs. The New York career fair, held the Friday before the summer Jewelers of America show opened, boasted more than 1,000 attendees. The West Coast career fair is scheduled for Oct. 17 at GIA headquarters in Carlsbad. Separately, a book chronicling GIA’s history, authored by JCK senior editor William George Shuster, will be released this fall. (An excerpt from the book can be found on page 108.)

Issues that GIA’s education department will address in 2004 include globalization and competition, both within the jewelry industry and from other industries. The gemology program is being updated to include the new developments in synthetics and treatments. GIA School of Business will ramp up its course offerings next year as well, and its first distance learning courses are set to launch in January. Business courses at the 200 level will be asynchronous, meaning the student enrolls and works at his or her own pace, but the 300-level courses will be synchronous. Students will enroll and complete as a group, and lessons will be interactive using a computer. Also under discussion for the future is possible degree granting from the School of Business.