On August 14, 2007 we were treated to GIA President Donna Baker. Donna is the fifth president in GIA’s 75-year history and the first woman to hold this prestigious position. She was recruited first as an in-house lawyer and holds several degrees as well as a G.G.
President Tony Conway starting the meeting
She began by recalling the changes in the laboratories with regards to improving services and turn-around times for stone grading. This was done after a Business Process Re-engineering which was done to determine how procedures were being performed and where improvements could be made. The first was the labs to be followed by Instrumentation. Instrumentation will be evaluated from design to manufacturing and will be revamped where necessary. Finally, Education will be addressed in 2008.
Diamond grading in the labs for both full reports and the Dossiers was taking four to six weeks to complete. This has been greatly improved and will be down to 5 days by 2008. There will also be opportunity to have a Dossier on stones weighing up to 2 cts. instead of only up to 1 ct. In order to accomplish this, the capacity for grading was increased by 50%. The website has a section for tracking the progress of any stone submitted which includes those by private individuals.
The same is being done in colored stones. The colored stone reports have been expanded upon to include country of origin. There plans for a quality and origin report for pearls.
Another change was to open the Alumni Association at headquarters to all students and graduates, free of charge. This will help keep alumni better connected both worldwide and in their local areas.
Donna spoke of the changing global conditions in the industry as a whole. India and China are emerging as major players. India now cuts and finishes many of the finer grades of stones instead of the lower end goods that it was previously known to produce. Botswana has changing laws that are allowing cutting and finishing to be done in-country. This is expected to impact India as well as increase social benefits for Botswana. The global markets are growing while the middle class areas are declining.
There are plans to open schools and labs in other world markets. In order to do this, the responsibility of maintaining the level of standard that GIA has enjoyed will be great. One way to do this is by increased mechanization thereby reducing the level of human error. Donna feels that GIA is the standard bearer of the industry and she plans to make sure that this will carry through no matter where the labs and schools are located.
Donna finished the evening by fielding questions that ranged from policy and procedure in the labs, to trends in the industry, colored stone markets, and countless other areas that affect the gemological world.
Text by Sherlene Bradbury
Photos by Melanie Marts