Congratulations go out to the following:
Bukina, Jelena N…………….....Diamonds Course
Dillman, Terrie……………….....Evaluating Damaged Jewelry
Jensen, Diana……………………Gemology Tools and Techniques
Keow, As Zaharah Seah Lay……………Identification of Synthetic Gemstones
Liu, Christine………………….....Introduction to Watches
Liu, Christine……………………..Pearls Course
Martin, Jenna R………………….Evaluating Damaged Jewelry
Oswald , Irmi…………………….Introduction to Watches
Schlund, Philippe…………….....Introduction to Gemology
Scott , Mary Anne………….…...Evaluating Damaged Jewelry
Wong, Patricia…………………...Gemology Tools and Techniques
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ISG Editorial: The 800 Pound Gorilla
...stubs its toe on synthetic alexandrite
It was what we at the ISG Community call a "gemologist's epiphany". I had been flown to New York to interview with Jules R. Sauer about going to work at his St. Thomas store. Upon my arrival I was told I would be meeting directly with JR Sauer as soon as he finished meeting with some Brazilian garimpeiros, or miners. When I was finally called into the office Mr. Sauer had a gleeful look on his face and told me to put hands together and hold out my palms. He then proceeded to pour out the largest parcel of the most beautiful and natural Brazilian alexandrites I had ever dreamed of. He told me that I would always remember this day as there would rarely ever be another parcel of natural alexandrites of this quality and size in one place again. He had just paid US$2 million for the parcel and anticipated its value at over $10 million. He placed my hands under a fluorescent light and the whole parcel turned intense green. Then using a pen light he made the intense reddish circle of color move around the parcel in a spot that moved like magic. We spent the whole hour playing with those alexandrites. At the end his assistant came in and informed Mr. Sauer that his next appointment was there, and asked if we had even talked about the St. Thomas position. JR looked at me and said: "You want to come work for me". I said "Yes!". That was the extent of the interview. I didn't care what he was paying, he didn't care what I was asking. We each equally loved those alexandrites. That was enough for both of us.
It was the start of a truly remarkable education in colored gemstones from one of the truly remarkable giants in this industry.
Recently, an article was published in the online edition of Barrons about a woeful situation in which a Philadelphia jeweler paid $7,000.00 for an alexandrite, not having a clue what he was buying. Then sent it to the GIA for certification, who also did not have a clue what he had purchased. They called it a natural alexandrite, which caused the jeweler to sell it for $10,000.00 until the whole thing blew up when a questioning client fortunately had Chris Smith at the AGL do a proper evaluation.
The issues surrounding this situation are profound for this industry. First, to the Philadelphia dealer would forks out thousands of dollars on a gemstone they know nothing about. That is not being a professional jeweler, that is being a merchant. And second from the GIA who advertises that they are the "industry's foremost authority in gemology" and yet continues to issue erroneous reports on colored gemstone after gemstone, and selling higher diamond grades to the highest paying dealer. The issue is clear that buying the trademark rights to the term "industry's foremost authority in gemology" does not come with the requirement that one actually act like the "industry's foremost authority in gemology". Indeed, when we first issued our andesine report we anticipated that the GIA would act like the industry leader and ask for sharing of our information and specimens, rather than the 800 pound gorilla treatment that we got. And since then they have worked hard to discredit our findings without having seen our complete research or inspected our complete specimen group. 800 pound gorilla is what we got. And the GIA is just digging themselves in deeper and deeper with the tourmaline, andesine and now alexandrite issues, just as they did with the beryllium diffused sapphires and what is known as GIA Certifigate where GIA GTL Diamond Graders sold higher diamond grades to high paying New York dealers. The GIA acts as if they are the 800 pound gorilla in the room and can throw everyone else around.
This has to stop.
As the only gemology school that offers an actual course in the Identification of Synthetic Gemstones, the ISG performs the largest volume of research on grass roots colored gemstones of any lab. Hands down. That is why we continue to be the organization that discovers and reports on these issues first. The fortunate thing for us, for consumers, and for the industry is that there is a very large grass roots segment of the industry who share and learn from each other. We have close ties, both research sharing and study specimen sharing, with many mid-level gemological organizations around the world. That is how it is supposed to work. Not with just a handful of the major labs (read: The Lab Manual Harmonization Committee) acting as if they are the only one's out there who have the "magical mystical knowledge" of gemology.
Truly, it is the major names in the LMHC who not only missed the andesine and tourmaline issues, but who have become known as the 800 pound gorillas working to cover up the facts from the industry and consumers. I personally offered to send my information to the AGTA and Dr. Lore Kiefert at the start of the andesine fiasco....not interested. 800 pound gorillas don't monkey around with the little guys.
Today, the industry has yet another black eye due to the GIA acting as if they are above the professional requirements of proper research and reporting protocol. The GIA owes Chris Smith and the AGL a big bouquet of roses and a very, very nice bottle of wine. Chris pulled the feet of the 800 pound GIA gorilla out of the fire as far as is possible. 800 pound gorillas are difficult to drag out of the fire when you have to pull them out kicking and screaming.
Regarding the alexandrite identification issue: the GIA would do well to listen to others rather than act as if they are the only one's who have the answers. Indeed, the ISG Community can identify all types of synthetic alexandrites using a 10x loupe and a hand held spectroscope.
Nothing more required.
Tomorrow we are going to share this identification information with everyone here. Hopefully that Philadelphia jeweler will do some studying and learn how to identify the products they are selling.
This is a profession. Consumers rely on us to be professional. Professional means learning, studying, sharing, and never letting down your guard on behalf of consumer protection and confidence in order to be the very best you can be....always.
Professional does not mean you get to be the 800 pound gorilla in the room.
The GIA needs to take a very serious look at their trademark registration: "The industry's foremost authority in gemology"
At no point does that mean "The industry's 800 pound gorilla". If the GIA is going to be the "authority" they need to start acting like one.
Tomorrow we will show you the story behind the identification of synthetic alexandrites. Its not rocket science.
President, International School of Gemology