Retailer News


Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co. has expanded its jewelry appraisal liability program for jewelers and jewelry appraisers. The changes follow a tightening of standards for appraisers by insurance companies in recent years, says JMI President Ron Harder.

Jewelers Mutual’s original appraisal liability coverage was designed for retail jewelers whose appraisal work was only a small part of their businesses. The new coverage can be added to Jewelers Mutual’s Craftsman policies for bench and repair jewelers and jewelry appraisers, the Businessowners policy for most retail jewelry businesses and the Combination policy program for larger jewelry businesses.

To qualify for coverage under the new program, jewelers and jewelry appraisers must meet specific criteria, such as appraisal education, affiliation with appraisal or jewelry associations, jewelry appraising experience or proof of appraisals that meet JMI guidelines.

Jewelers Mutual Insurance Co., P.O. Box 468, Neenah, WI 54957-0468; (800) 558-6411 or (414) 725-4326, fax (414) 725-9401.

Crowningshield Marks 50th Year as Gemology leader G. Robert Crowningshield, a pioneer, innovator and leader of modern gemology, marks a special anniversary this month. He has been a member and officer of the Gemological Institute of America for 50 years, 49 of them with GIA’s Gem Trade Laboratory in New York City, which he helped to establish in 1948.

Only Richard T. Liddicoat, chairman and former president of GIA has been with the educational and research facility longer. He joined in 1940.

Crowningshield joined GIA’s staff in 1947 at the request of founder Robert M. Shipley. He helped to set up GIA’s East Coast headquarters in 1950 and was named director in 1951 and vice president in charge of the gem identification division in 1978. He developed methods to identify irradiated colored diamonds, dyed jade and gem-quality synthetic diamonds.

“The GIA Gem Trade Laboratory wouldn’t have been as effective nor reached its current status without his exceptional integrity and very effective research ethic,” says Liddicoat. “His encyclopedic knowledge of gems, fantastic memory and completely delightful sense of humor have made it a pleasure and an education for generations to work with him.”

GIA President Bill Boyajian agrees, saying Crowningshield personifies the GIA Gem Lab to the New York diamond trade. “He firmly established that GIA couldn’t be bought, and he has always been impeccable in his tastes and integrity,” he says.

Boyajian calls Crowningshield and Liddicoat icons of the industry. Liddicoat and Crowningshield are past recipients of GIA’s Lifetime Achievement Awards. Crowningshield has been a frequent contributor to jewelry and gem trade publications, lectured widely and appeared often on TV and radio. He is an honorary certified gemologist of the American Gem Society, an honorary director or of the Canadian Gemmological Association and a Fellow with Distinction of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

No special public event is planned to mark the anniversary. But in 1991, GIA renamed its gem research lab the G. Robert Crowningshield Gemological Research Laboratory. And in July, close friends and associates held a dinner in his honor in New York City. “It was low-key, as Bob wanted,” says Boyajian. “We went around the room and each person told their story of what it was like to work next to a true giant of the industry.”


The jewelry industry has taken pride in a young gemology student whose honesty and modesty captured the attention of the nation this summer.

Qurbe Tirmizi, 21, is a resident student in the Graduate Gemologist course at the New York City branch of the Gemological Institute of America. He drives a cab on weekends to pay for the six-month GIA course and for “pocket change.”

Shortly after 9:30 p.m. July 13, he drove a frail 71-year-old woman to Harlem. They chatted about his GIA studies and his plans to be a jeweler. As he helped her out of the cab with her bags, she told him she would pray for him. He later noticed a small black duffel bag still in back. Inside it, he found a leather handbag stuffed with $32,859.05 in cash (according to a later police count). It was the woman’s life savings, which she carried with her because she doesn’t trust banks.

‘Child of God’

He searched for a police officer then called 911 for help. As he did so, a police car came by and escorted him to the drop-off site for items left in cabs in New York City. The police were initially as surprised as he was, then began calling him a hero and joked that maybe she had left it as a tip, Tirmizi recalled. They traced the woman, a London native living here for 11 years, through identification in her bag and brought her to the station to pick up her money and meet Tirmizi. “He’s a child of God, a very nice, kind gentleman. I love him,” said the grateful woman, whose name was not released.

Tirmizi, who is on financial aid at GIA, says he never thought of keeping the money. In fact, he refused a reward. “I don’t need a reward, just your blessing for help in my [GIA] course,” said Tirmizi, a devout Moslem.

The good deed and modesty quickly caught the attention of New York City and the nation. New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani honored him at City Hall the next day. “He demonstrates the kind of honesty and integrity that should be a model for everyone – taxi cab drivers, politicians, everyone,” Giuliani said.

He was front page news in USA Today and the New York Daily News; featured in The New York Times, wire service and newspaper reports in the U.S. and overseas; and was mentioned on CNN and welcomed as a guest on “Today,” “Good Morning America” and “The Letterman Show.”

Interviewers repeatedly asked why he returned the money. “That is just basic human morality,” he said. “It’s the way I was brought up by my parents and in my religion.” As a future jeweler, he said repeatedly, “it’s important that customers know we in the jewelry business are honest and ethical and that they can trust us.”

GIA and the retail jewelry industry took note of Tirmizi’s deed and the good will it generated for both. He received dozens of job offers. And he was a guest of honor at GIA’s League of Honor reception for major donors on July 17 ( the night before his 21st birthday). On July 21, he was honored at Jewelers of America’s press conference. There, Matthew Runci, JA executive director, and Andy Johnson of The Diamond Cellar, Columbus, Ohio, announced JA and The Diamond Cellar will pay the rest of his GIA financial aid. Their involvement and donation was arranged through the efforts of Kathryn Kimmel, GIA vice president of marketing.