Susan Jacques and Tom Moses speak to JCK about how the Gemological Institute of America is preparing for the future.
Nearing her second anniversary as president and CEO of GIA, Susan Jacques spoke with JCK in a joint interview with executive vice president and chief laboratory and research officer Tom Moses at GIA’s New York City office in 47th Street’s International Gem Tower. Jacques, who previously headed Omaha, Neb., retailer Borsheims (and attended GIA as a student in 1980), and Moses talked about present and past controversies and what Jacques sees for GIA’s future.
JCK: You are just coming off a significant backlog at your grading lab. How did you manage to tame that?
Susan Jacques: We hired 50 percent more graders. We opened more labs, we utilized additional technologies. We are building for the future. And that is Tom’s plan: a predictable turnaround time for our clients to service their needs as quickly as we possibly can.
Can you assure us GIA won’t be in this situation again?
Tom Moses: I have been around for a while. It’s happened a lot, more than I would l like. We are doing everything to ensure that this will never happen again.
I projected 10 percent growth in 2013; it turned out to be 70 percent. I made a big mistake. I’m not sure anyone in our industry expected their business to increase 70 percent coming off of the fourth quarter of 2012. Susan and the board are talking about building beyond existing demand so we have elasticity to take these spikes that come in our industry.
Do you see more global expansion?
Susan Jacques: We were very fortunate to have started the expansion globally, when we opened our lab in Mumbai in 2009. The impetus is to get closer to our clients…so they don’t have to ship their goods to the United States in order to get serviced. The Mumbai lab has become our largest lab. It’s Mumbai, Carlsbad, and New York City.
We get many requests for GIA labs, from all sorts of places. We announced that we were doing a feasibility study for a lab in Surat [India]—getting closer to the manufacturing side. But that is the only one we are currently looking at. We believe we have all the locations of significant importance on the diamond side.
“Our mission is to ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry. Our vision is to be the global authority in gemology.”
There is a perception in the trade that grading is less strict in some overseas labs.
Tom Moses: Last year we shipped 700,000 stones out of India to other labs, about half of those submitted there. No one knows which stones [leave], or where they go. We own between 1,000 and 1,500 diamonds and have dummy accounts in every country we are in. Those dummy accounts submit diamonds blindly to different locations, and they are moving around the world all the time. We are looking at the output quality of each lab, and looking at individuals. Do we ever flesh out variances? Yes. But it allows us to address those. In some cases we partially grade the stone in one location and then ship to another to be finished.