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Scenes from GIA Symposium 2006

Discussion in 'Hangout' started by JohnQuixote, Sep 1, 2006.

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  1. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Jason Quick from AGS at the poster sessions.

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  2. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Dr. Ilene Reintiz and Al Gilbertson. Two of the top research gemologists at GIA who were very instrumental in the development of the new cut grading system and two of my peers who were extremely helpful while I was persoinally researching and learning GIA''s new cut grading system. Very friendly and cooperative in answering all my questions and 2 of the nicest people you''ll ever meet. [​IMG]

    Something that was very excellent to see at this show was the comraderie and efforts of both GIA and AGS working together to help educate the trade. My personal kudo''s to both teams for setting a fine example to those of us in the industry. Keep up the excellent work. [​IMG]

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  3. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    The debate sessions were setup just great. The one Leo and I were panel members of was "The Great Internet Debate" and it was setup like a boxing ring. They had Leo and myself come out with boxing gloves on and it was really a great time for us and the audience. Here''s the entrance to "The Ring". [​IMG]

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  4. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    The ring itself. Pretty neat. [​IMG]

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  5. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    The moderators and panelists.

    From left to right. Cheryl Kremkow from Modern Jeweler who was moderating, Neil''s Ruddy Hansen a wholesaler from Europe, Elizabeth Chatelain from MVI marketing research, a Rhino, Patrick Ball from GIA also a moderator, PS''s Leonid, and Au-Co who is an internet only vendor. The panelists IMO represented a nice diversity of folks in the industry each of whom was familiar with various facets of the jewelry industry and how the Internet is impacting our industry as a whole.

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  6. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    The PS gang who attended.

    From left to right. Dave Atlas, Garry Holloway, yours truly, Martin Fuller, John Pollard & Leonid.

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  7. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    On the lighter side ... Here''s a shot of the Hyatt from SeaPort Village which was right behind the hotel. This place was awesome.

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  8. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    The pool area. Quite a few parties thrown by GIA and their sponsors took place in this area. [​IMG]

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  9. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    The view from our window. [​IMG] In the distance is my ol AirCraft Carrier the USS Nimitz which I served on while I served in the US Navy.

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  10. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Zooming in on the USS Midway Navy Museum.

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  11. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    I got to San Diego a few days early and stayed a few days later as my family came with me. We explored a few beaches while there. Coronado Beach, Mission Beach and Pacific Beaches were all beautiful but Mission Beach had the best waves so we spent most of our time off there. Here''s a shot. Few places do I regret leaving when I go on vacation but we REALLY could have stayed longer. [​IMG] Good Old Gold West Coast?

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  12. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Right on the beach they have a club called "The WaveHouse". We had hella fun there. Here''s a dude doing his thang. Look at the size of this man made wave!

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  13. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Shootin the tube.

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  14. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    GERONIMO!!!!

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  15. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Hope I don''t crash! [​IMG]

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  16. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    After crusin this wave for a while I had things pretty much under control. What a time it was. Before we left my son and I were able to ride this wave on the knees and were ready for the big one. Unfortunately time didn't allow. [​IMG] A great reason to go back. [​IMG]

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  17. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Nothing like ending the day with a beautiful California sunset. I hope you enjoyed the pix ya''ll.

    All the best,

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  18. Regular Guy
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    by Regular Guy » Sep 8, 2006
    I can''t find the text just now, but I think you said, John, that there was some kind of seal on the content of that session?

    BTW, thanks to both you Johns for sharing.

    But, DeeJay, you''re an attorney, right? Any intellectual property attorney''s out there. Seems like, having attended, and without stepping over any lines, you might be able to share some of your personal experience in these sessions.

    But, keep your license, and good graces with GIA, if that''s at risk. Alternately, if anyone on Pricescope can assist with border clarifications, that may help in more than one respect.
     
  19. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Hi Ira,

    You''re right. The content of the debate is not to be discussed. A pic of us though isn''t crossing any lines that I am aware of.
     
  20. Regular Guy
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    by Regular Guy » Sep 8, 2006
    Then, I guess it''s up to us. Maybe we can be be Woodward & Bernstein to you. After conjecturing, wait three screens, and if you say nothing, we know we''ve got it.

    I say they were asked to discuss:

    the continuity from database to store presentation to branding, with respect to diamonds. And the real and perceived tightening up of the variation between these, from the consumer''s point of view.
     
  21. JohnQuixote
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    by JohnQuixote » Sep 8, 2006
    Hey Rhino - great photos and comments. Thank you for adding them here. [​IMG]


    I would like to have added these thoughts before today, as the sessions are now 10 days in the past. Still, some additional info may have value to some of you – even if it's nearing the expiration date. [​IMG]

    “Debate Centers” at the Symposium were sessions where opinions could freely be exchanged on some of the industry’s more controversial topics. No recording devices or photography were allowed while the sessions were active, and attendees agreed to keep specific details of the discussions confidential in order to stimulate candid, open conversation - with strong opinions encouraged.

    * Among subjects in the debate centers was “Locality Of Origin,” which asked if origins should make a difference in gemstone value: Should someone pay more for a ruby because it’s from Thailand and not Burma, for instance.

    * Another subject was “Gemstone Treatments.” Detection, identification and disclosure of bleaching, coating, fracture-filling, laser-drilling, etc. was discussed – along with the challenges today’s gemologists (and even major laboratories) have with detection and arriving at fair, descriptive terminology.

    As you saw from Rhino's photos, the other 2 sessions were held in a special, unique format: ‘The Ring’ included interactive audience responses via electronic keypads (handed out to the first 200 people). Hot topical questions were asked and everyone was able to see how opinions ranked among the respondents.

    * “Ethical Dilemmas in the Jewelry Industry” encompassed discussion about finding, proving and penalizing unethical behavior in the industry, as well as conversation ranging from ethical standards and practices to gemstone treatments and conflict diamonds.

    * The topic close to home for Pricescopers occurred in “The Great Internet Debate,” which saw the rising influence of the information age tossed around; from trends of consumers buying online to those who do research online and use the information to do retail shopping, to reactions in the trade about several aspects of internet commerce.

    The ‘ringmaster’ for the debate was Cheryl Kremkow of Modern Jeweler. As noted (and pictured) above, the panel included Elizabeth Chatelain of MVI Marketing, Niels Ruddy Hansen of Hansen APS, Au-Co Mai of Emitations.com, and (drum roll) Dr. Leonid Tcharnyi of Pricescope.com & Jonathan Weingarten (aka Rhino) of Good Old Gold.

    Without breaking the spirit of confidentiality I think I can share that both Leonid and Rhino were extremely well-spoken in their comments. Rhino’s ‘brick & click’ statements seemed especially useful to retailers wanting to enhance visibility and functionality. Several frequent Pricescope posters (and lurkers) offered opinions and perspective in the session, as did some notable professionals present; some in favor of an increased internet jewelry market, some against it and others just hoping to “ride the wave” and not be “wiped out.” [​IMG]
     
  22. Rhino
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    by Rhino » Sep 8, 2006
    Thanks man. I was hoping it would have been included on the DVD they were making but I contacted Patrick Ball and he told me it wasn't going to be. [​IMG] It would have been nice to have for the archives. I would be remiss if I didn't mention the valuable contributions you, Dave Atlas and Garry made to the debate as well. The commentary offered by all was thought provoking and it was interesting hearing from lurkers in the audience too. That hour and a half seemed to fly by so fast. John, did you get a chance to visit any of the local beaches?

    All the best,
     
  23. Garry H (Cut Nut)
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    by Garry H (Cut Nut) » Sep 8, 2006
    Unfortunately this debate never really got going because most of the attendees agreed with the idea of the importance of a good website what ever their business model.
    Other than one wholesaler who is well known to be an anti drop shipping bandstander - the audience was largely without the ''Brad and Jan''s'' type & Mum and Pops fighting to stay in dinasuar land. So unlike Leonid''s presentation at JCK last year, there were very few people in the audience who were against the www.


    Unfortunately though - there was no debate about diamond cut grading. The powers that be in GIA do not want controversy about thiers or anyone elses cut grading systems. This smacks of oligarchy. Very sad.
     
  24. strmrdr
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    by strmrdr » Sep 9, 2006
    kewl pics thank you.

    one question for those that were there:
    What was the general mood of the industry at the show?
    There are a lot of changes in the last few years and new challenges coming up.
     
  25. pr0pel
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    by pr0pel » Sep 9, 2006
    What a fantastic thread. Thank you all for sharing. It was great reading about the symposium!
     
  26. JohnQuixote
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    by JohnQuixote » Sep 9, 2006
    The Symposium’s theme was appropriately titled, Strm. In my perception the mood was congenial, business-like and opinionated. It was clear that attendees wished to gain understanding, share their perspective and address “the challenges ahead.” Not a surprise since everyone there was motivated to pay the fee, take time off and travel to participate in the first place.

    Ethical and economic issues dominated the proceedings. Different segments of the industry seemed to focus on different issues of urgency. In broad terms my sense is that labs, appraisers and ethical manufacturers are most concerned with how we will handle the evolution of synthetics and treatments (CDV and HPHT especially).

    Sellers depending on middle-America are feeling a squeeze. With oil & interest rates up, luxury spending is down. Margins are being sucked out upstream by DeBeers and others and sucked out downstream by vertical integration (Wal-Mart, etc) and pricing info that is available to consumers on the internet & used to challenge markups in retail stores.

    Retailers and trade organizations are sensitive to the public's reaction to the upcoming blood diamond movie and the way the studio chooses to market and advertise that movie pre-release. The WDC, CRJP and others are committed to putting facts before industry pros (and the public) and many feel the timing now could be our best oppotunity as a trade to make a difference.

    Producers, large manufacturers and economists are pointing to China’s escalating development as impacting the world market as we know it. Their purchasing power is going up as the US dollar becomes weaker and a transfer of wealth is occuring. Due to populations and increasing purchasing power, India and China may wind up driving the global diamond market.

    One thing I was buoyed by was the frequent references to “the internet” in the different sessions and discussions. I personally thought Beryl Raff had the best overview given in the large sessions – that to survive entrepreneurs must view the internet as a retail innovation which has increased transparency, not as a ‘new medium’ to be avoided. With that said, I was disappointed at the number of people who did not show for “The Great Internet Debate” (less than 200). Garry’s correct when he said there were less people in the audience against the www compared to Leonid’s JCK presentation from 05. My interpretation of that is that more people are either accepting internet jewelry commerce as not-going-away…or are still avoiding the issue with their heads in the sand.

    A session I think will hold interest for you Strm, was the one on ‘Consumer Confidence.’ I still have notes to put in coherent form but my free time has been limited. I’ll try to put them together before the end of the weekend.
     
  27. strmrdr
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    by strmrdr » Sep 9, 2006
    thank you sir John
    I''m looking forward to reading about the ‘Consumer Confidence.’ session.
     
  28. JohnQuixote
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    by JohnQuixote » Sep 10, 2006

    I had some time when I got home to knock this out today. [​IMG] [​IMG]

    GIA Symposium 2006 - Consumer Confidence: It's All About Trust

    One of the most heavily attended sessions at the Symposium was the panel discussion on consumer confidence. GIA delayed selecting topics until the last minute to be sure the most current issues were in play. Appropriately, Cecilia Gardner, president, CEO and general counsel for the Jeweler’s Vigilance Committee (JVC) was the moderator. The other panelists were John Calnon of the World Gold Council, Jeffrey Fisher of the World Diamond Council, Esther Fortunoff Green of the Fortunoff retail chain, Sally Morrison of the Diamond Trading Company, Tom Moses of GIA, Michael Rae of the Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices and Chaim Even-Zohar of Tacy Ltd.

    [​IMG]

    John Calnon discussed perspective on metals and the environment; the mining of gold in particular. He said The World Gold Council represents only 45% of global production currently; primarily larger manufacturers. He urged members of the trade not to be complacent. There are NGOs targeting consumers and retailers with media ads cautioning about “dirty” mining. For example, last February - coinciding with Valentine's Day - the No Dirty Gold organization renewed its fight against both mining practices and jewelers. He went on to say we all know that gold is extracted from the environment, so mining will have an effect, and industry is responsible for addressing that. Calnon urged attendees to promote the positive effects of mining. Some poor countries derive much of their income, development of infrastructure and skilled work force from mining. Rigorous safeties and standards are enforced in most of the world’s mining operations; North America is the largest area of production and has some of the most stringent laws. Calnon said the CRJP and International Council of Mining and Metals are both taking steps to raise awareness of those practices. At this time environmental NGOs, including Earthworks, have agreed to participate with other bodies in setting agreed-upon standards by 2007. He believes this gold mining industry initiative and the CRJP promise to be the best route for mutual understanding.

    After his lecture, Calnon was asked if he believes closed mines will be opening now that prices are skyrocketing. He said that mining companies are re-visiting such possibilities. Another question addressed the mining ratio of earth to gold (approximately 2000 tons of rock for 1 oz of gold), and asked if Calnon thought it was even possible to mine in a manner the NGOs will approve. Calnon replied that we will never be able to mine in a way that is not destructive, but we can find ways to improve processes. Michael Rae of the CRJP added that we will never be able to put back a mountaintop, for instance, but industry is exploring what can be done to improve the condition of the land thereafter. The answer, for all concerned parties, is what the net result will be: There will not be a sum 0, but companies like Rio-Tinto are working to see what can happen after mining so that the legacy of the mine is a net positive environmentally and socially, not just economically.

    Esther Fortunoff Green has overseen the jewelry buying, manufacturing and quality control departments for the Fortunoff jewelry chain. She told attendees that retailers and their interaction with consumers represent the ‘final frontier.’ We work with consumers each day, and in order to walk in the door they must trust us. Recently, she said, she overheard a client ask a sales associate; “This is a good diamond, isn’t it?” The sales person responded “Oh sure, I’ll tell you about it later – let’s pick out the mounting.” Green said this was inappropriate and unfortunately very common. She went on to say that an apparent lack of knowledge among members of the retail trade allows abundant mis-grading of diamonds to occur. Sales associates often don’t test what their supplier is telling them. She said we have to trust people in the pipeline, but work with them to understand what our ethics, our vision and our standards are. She was asked about the viability of any grading report, since they are widely advertised as subjective and ‘not a science.’ She replied that every store should become educated so that they know the different reports and the strictness of different labs, and that every store should agree with the grading on the reports they carry. When asked about synthetics, treatments and less-regulated colored stones (amethysts in particular), Green urged retailers to hold their sources accountable in this case too; for instance, every retailer must make a decision about whether to carry true amethyst or not. She commented that ‘making all the labs more ethical’ would be a next step for ethical retailers.

    Sally Morrison has a strong background in public affairs and publicity, and oversees “generic” public relations on behalf of the DTC; the marketing arm of DeBeers. She addressed the upcoming movie “The Blood Diamond,” commenting that the Diamond Information Center is helping shape response about that film for the world. Morrison advised the audience that a major motion picture like this has huge impact beyond the people who go to see it, because many more people will see the marketing for it and draw conclusions from trailers, TV commercials, etc. Upwards of $30-40,000,000 worth of TV and print advertising will occur. The media blitzes will hit in the middle of the annual holiday season for jewelers and could possibly turn a relatively defined small issue into a hot topic quickly. She cited The DaVinci Code and Munich as examples of movies which generated abundant talk before they actually opened, in some cases causing more discussion before than after. The DIC’s job is trying to ease any misunderstanding. She cautioned everyone to remember that media abhor a vacuum. If retailers won’t talk about the issues the media will get the story from someone else. She encouraged all trade members to always respond. The facts do not speak for themselves; we know them and must put them forward. Morrison cautions that Warner Brothers will insist their film is not political and will portray any attempt by the trade to give different perspective as political. They may refute the idea that KPCS is working. They will highlight things in the film that will create a buzz. Additionally, with rumors about a great performance by DiCaprio we may expect more around February-March when the Oscars approach. Morrison says our response must be to tell the story truthfully and factually. An education campaign has been launched at www.diamondfacts.org. There is a tremendous amount of training there for sales professionals and information for consumers. Additionally, there are entities doing work in Hollywood to educate people about products, origins, long-standing ethical solutions and new ones taking place now.

    Not too long ago the Minister of Botswana said that ‘to the rest of the world diamonds are a luxury, but to us they are bread and butter.’ Morrison was asked what can be done to get Botswana, Angola, the DRC and Sierra Leone to help amplify the good that can be done for the trade. She replied that the sentiment was on target, and those heads of state are being consulted. It is her hope that some of the leaders of these countries will make keynote addresses on the issue. When asked what she thought about Martin Rapaport’s comments and the concept of Fair Trade Diamonds, Morrison replied that we must simultaneously educate about our history, the status quo and new initiatives being taken. She said that the World Diamond Council is especially active; supporting the Diamond Development Initiative (DDI), working with the World Bank and the United Nations as well. Another question asked whether the trade’s concern about the movie was fueling media speculation. Morrison said it doesn’t matter, as we can’t control the media in any event. We can only be transparent and honest. She stated that this is an opportunity to address these things in the media. Michael Rae of the CRJP added that it is a good time to put “conflict-free” in perspective: “To ignore the people of Africa and buy elsewhere would be a disaster,” he said. “We need to find solutions for clean mining and manufacturing. “This is not an us versus them proposition - it is an US proposition.”

    Tom Moses, head of the GIA Laboratory, also addressed synthetics and treatments. He said that a fundamental tenet of a lab is to set standards and maintain them with proper quality controls. According to Moses, consistency is vital and challenges exist because the gemstone industry is not static. He said responsible labs need to do several things: (1) Invest in instrumentation and technical staff who can consistently ID treatments and synthetics. (2) Maintain a program to inform the lab’s constituency about the issues and pertinent changes. (3) Also inform the industry about the issues. Moses gave an example of a past problem with natural emeralds. He said that although treatments were recognized in 1990 not enough was done to inform the consumers and industry in the mainstream, thus there was a loss of confidence: “In the end it worked out, but this will not always be the case.” With regard to synthetics, Moses said GIA is about to issue more detailed reports about synthetic and lab-grown diamonds. A number of bodies are approaching this in a thoughtful way. “Not everyone is going to agree, but we need to do the responsible thing for the end-user” he said. He believes labs must increase awareness about synthetics and treatments and have proper tools for identification. Fragmented solutions will only create confusion and a loss of confidence. Proper ID and terminology are vital for the marketplace, and new technologies will not go away, they will continue to present challenges. Moses was asked if there was a concern that labs are misleading consumers by asserting that a subjective opinion is science. He replied by saying he challenges subjectivity a bit; the GIA uses visual observation with instrumental measurement to support color grading. Moses closed by saying that what the labs are doing today is not perfect but it is far better than the situation that existed a few decades ago.

    Michael Rae, CEO of the Council for Responsible Jewelry Practices has had extensive experience in international mining, and even led the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Mining Certification Evaluation Project. He stated that he has had no criticism from his NGO colleagues for taking up his position with the CRJP. Additionally, Earthworks and other NGOs are willing to work with organizations, and this industry needs trust to be able to exist. Rae’s observations were based on the emotional aspect of jewelry to the buying pubic. He said that if you taint the dreams with ethical issues those dreams become a nightmare. Jewelry must respond to challenges if jewelry is to be a repository for consumers’ dreams. Each link in the chain, from mine to retail, must add value, both environmentally and on humanitarian levels. Mines that operate in a clean, fair fashion and manufacturing processes which are safe, clean and fair will do this, he says. We must have worthy representation of peoples’ dreams. Rae discussed a litany of services that show what we can do, such as schools in India and HIV clinics in Africa. He announced his agreement with Rapaport’s statement that “diamonds are crap unless they reflect value.” Rae says ethical issues, destroying the environment and atrocities are the stuff of nightmares and have no place in consumers’ dreams. His organization, the CRJP, believes independent 3rd party monitoring is the current benchmark for trust - and offers that to the industry. Rae addressed the question; “I am just trying to run a business, why should I be concerned about anti-money laundering or all this?” He reinforced that people are interested in their purchase beyond the grading report and hallmark. They want to know, “what is the provenance?” By way of support of this sentiment, Jeffrey Fisher added “This is a reason I never refer to a diamond as a ‘stone.’ People want romance and we who are used to calling it a stone have acclimated, but I always call it a diamond.”

    Chaim Evan Zohar is one of the industry’s foremost analysts. Noted contributor to Idex online, he discussed anti-money laundering and combating the finance of terrorism. Zohar was quick to point out that countries of the world are fighting money laundering and terrorism in all markets, not just in the diamond trade. In the USA the Patriot Act and other actions are in place to find suspicious activity and harshly penalize violations. In recent years more stringent requirements have been put in place abroad, with many of our overseas trading partners having stricter scrutiny and penalties than in the US. Still, it is a complex issue and there are global problems with harmonization. For instance, very strict systems exist in Israel and Belgium, but what is forbidden in Belgium is allowed in Holland. Zohar said that governments must make up their minds. What is not helping is that the media reports erroneous problems. In actuality most problems at the trade level are with governments, not consumers. When asked what our response should be to consumers who express concerns, Zohar pointed out that such problems in our industry revolve around cash transactions. Therefore, these laundering issues are not typically in our stores and retailers should make it clear they are dealing with a bank. They can rely on the banks to patrol this - we cannot do any better than our banks are doing. As for self-patrolling, Zohar said “Hey, if someone is giving you a check and her name is Isabel Bin Laden then check!...but for the most part you’re ok.” He also made a point to praise what the JVC has done as ‘unprecedented’ in any other country.

    Cecilia Gardner fielded questions about those who violate ethics on a smaller scale, such as inflated appraisals used in insurance situations. She encouraged anyone with proof or knowledge of this to call the JVC, as such practices are a violation of FTC regulations. For larger issues, Gardner encouraged people to fill out a Department of the Treasury SAR (suspicious activity report) if they see suspicious financial activity. There are laws to protect the reporter so that people are encouraged to come forward. JVC also protects the confidentiality of reports. Concern was expressed about situations where retailers and diamontaires have behaved unethically but nothing was done to “name and shame” the culprits. Gardner said they cannot be named publicly in each case because of secrecy requirements in connection with investigations. Furthermore, allegations must be fully substantiated before ‘naming and shaming’ can be done in order to be protected from liability. All panelists agreed that for ethical violations we, as a trade, should be more strict.

    The capacity audience was attentive for the 90 minute presentation. Many attendees remained to meet with panelists one on one following the session.
     
  29. strmrdr
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    by strmrdr » Sep 10, 2006
    Im reply to Esther Fortunoff Green:
    People dont like buying diamonds from people that know less about diamonds than they do and thanks to PS that level has risen to new heights.
    I agree broad and deep educational retraining of the sales force is needed on many levels.

    Replace "next" with "one of the" and this is spot on target:
    "She commented that ‘making all the labs more ethical’ would be a next step for ethical retailers"
     
  30. strmrdr
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    by strmrdr » Sep 10, 2006
    In reply to Sally Morrison:
    The problem with the blood diamond issue is that there is a lot of truth too it.
    Hollywierd may or may not present it in a false manner but even if they stick 100% to the truth there is a lot of blood that wont whitewash.
    Diamonds have been and still are used for exploitation in many parts of the world.

    The best response is here is what we are doing about it today because we cant change yesterday.
    But then the question becomes is enough being done today or is the industry still exploiting and just putting a fancy name on it?
    Interesting times thats for sure.
     
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