Mumbai: The certificate scandal at the Gemological Institute is snowballing into major crisis with GIA announcing that the names of diamond dealers who may have violated GIA’s Code of Ethics have been turned over to law enforcement officials. GIA has also made it clear to them that it will no longer accept diamonds from them for grading.
While rumour are that mills in the diamond industry are working overtime and a couple of Indian diamantaires are on the list, no names have been officially revealed by the GIA. In a major shake-up the GIA Lab has also decided to discontinue what it called the membership structure and will introduce a new single price structure for all diamantaires clients, worldwide. This policy will go into effect from January 1. Earlier this month, Thomas C Yonelunas, CEO of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) laboratory resigned following review of policies and practices at the GIA lab. Four others were sacked. The review was initiated as a result of a lawsuit filed in spring 2005 by New York jeweller Max Pincione, which named GIA as one of four defendants. Pincione in his lawsuit filed against the GIA lab, Vivid Collection and two others had alleged that GIA had upgraded certified diamonds in return for payment. The case raised uproar in the diamond industry.
Leading Indian diamantaires regularly send thousands of diamonds to the GIA laboratory in the US for gradation.
Hit by the charge that some staffers fixed the certificates and grading results in lieu of favours, the GIA has made it clear that it will no longer solicit or accept donations from diamantaires whose stones are graded in these laboratory. The list of such donors contained many Indian names. In a sign of just how badly the GIA has been hit by the certificate scandal,GIA’s board of governors has appointed Ralph Destino, former chairman and president of Cartier, Inc, as the chairman of the GIA which is a newly created position.
Destino will oversee the operations and policies of the organisation. The all powerful William E Boyajian, in his capacity as GIA president, will report to Destino. Boyajin was at the helm of GIA affairs for many decades. The institute has also appointed Linda Scholl, to be GIA’s new compliance officer. According to a release from the GIA, all employees will be required to inform GIA of code of conduct violations that they may witness or of which they become aware. Failure to do so will result in dismissal said GIA. Employees have been banned from soliciting or receiving compensation in any form from laboratory clients, including cash or noncash gifts or entertainment.