It’s All About Trust as GIA Symposium ConcludesSeptember 03, 06
From responsible mining practices and anti-money laundering to retail practices and synthetics, issues of consumer confidence featured prominently throughout the fourth international GIA Symposium.
In a panel dedicated to the subject of consumer confidence and trust, IDMA President Jeffrey Fischer, speaking about synthetic diamonds, said that the key to dealing with synthetics was detection, disclosure, and differentiation. “The trade must do its share in backing up the labs,” he said as he acknowledged that synthetic diamond producers have the right to compete for consumer attention.
Esther Fortunoff Greene told the audience that retailers are the “final frontier.” Fortunoff Greene, who overseas the buying, manufacturing, and quality control departments at the fine jewelry retail chain Fortunoff, commented, “Consumers have to trust us to just walk in the door…If we continue to care about [the] bigger issues, we will manage together to become a more ethical trade.”
Speaking on behalf of the DTC, Sally Morrison touched on the issue of The Blood Diamond movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, which is set for release during the all important holiday season. “The movie does threaten our industry collectively,” said Morrison. “It will have a huge impact beyond those who go to the mall to see it.” The role of the trade, she urged, was to prevent any misunderstanding about conflict diamonds. “The whole key to crisis management is anticipation. The media abhor a vacuum,” she said in connection with the seriousness that the movie is being taken by the DTC, among other organizations.
Perhaps the most surprising comments on consumer confidence, however, came during Maurice Tempelsman’s closing keynote speech in which he mentioned the grading lab scandal that hit GIA last year; a subject that was all but glossed over during the Symposium. “Every one of us knows that there is no institution, whether public or private, whether good or even great, that can deem itself forever immune from such troubles,” said the Lazare Kaplan International chairman. “Human nature remains, and will ever remain, human nature, as will human frailty. And we all know, too, that the best way to deal with these problems when they arise is as directly, as forcefully and – to the extent one is, like the GIA, a public institution – as openly as possible.”
He continued, “While I would never presume to speak for a body such as the GIA, it seems to me that in this case the question is: who does the GIA exist to serve – the public, or the industry? Like most such questions, this one grossly oversimplifies by implying that the public and the industry somehow sit at opposite poles, which clearly they do not. And in the ordinary course the simple answer that the GIA could and should provide is “both.”