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April 2006

The Gemological Institute of America has banned three “prominent dealers” from doing business with its lab, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
“We felt there was enough evidence of unethical conduct to prompt us to send out another letter” notifying certain dealers that they could no longer submit stones to the GIA for grading,” GIA spokeswoman Kathryn Kimmel told the Journal. “We are trying to pursue all credible leads.”

The Journal did have much that was new in its latest article, and mostly talked about fears among dealers that they had tainted reports.
In a statement issued after the article was published, the GIA said “we want the diamond and jewelry industries as well as the public to know that the Gemological Institute of America operates with the highest ethical standards, and they can and should continue to have full confidence in GIA’s laboratory operations and the reports we issue.”

It continued: “After completing nearly 100 interviews and reviewing over 100,000 documents spanning a 10-year period, the independent investigators concluded that any violations of GIA’s policies were very limited in scope. In addition, we have taken a number of steps to enhance our already stringent laboratory procedures and controls, and we continue to monitor our processes with great diligence … In order to dispel any lingering concerns, we are offering free verification of any GIA-graded diamond.”
The GIA said it was not true when the Journal wrote that the four employees were fired for “accepting bribes.” It said, “The employees were terminated … for violating GIA’s Professional Ethics and Conduct Compliance Statement.” Later, the Journal wrote a correction to the item.

In a second article, the Journal noted that the “GIA was polishing its image,” by “revamping its operations” and becoming “more open, candid and more dedicated than ever to customer service.”
Among the steps it has taken is no longer having memberships, which new chairman Ralph Destino said “was seen as being discriminatory.” It also will no longer solicit money from diamond dealers, due to the “appearance of impropriety.”

It also noted that several of GIA’s board members are also clients.

The article also revealed the GIA lab is quite a money-maker: It generated about $94 million in revenue out of total revenue of $126 million. 


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