Stepping up oversight
I feel there is an apparent lack of oversight in our industry that can result in decreased consumer confidence. We’ve all heard of instances where a dispute has arisen due to an error in identification by a gemmologist. Likewise is the case regarding misrepresentation by a jeweller that is further corroborated by an appraiser. Unfortunately, there isn’t much recourse in either scenario for the consumer, who is undoubtedly the victim. These issues can also arise as a result of a lack of awareness and training.
There are many ways to build your credentials in the jewellery industry, ranging from gemmological schools and training centres to various trade associations; however, I find it is the lack of awareness of these gatekeepers that renders their designations useless.
It’s true these institutions and associations provide various grading systems, teaching styles, and mandates, and function to provide the jewellery industry with skilled and vetted gemmologists and appraisers. Unfortunately, none of them have any real ‘teeth’ to reprimand members or graduates when they misrepresent their services or products.
The problem lies in the fact many in the jewellery industry are uninformed regarding the various institution and association designations, how these certificates and training are obtained, and the minimum requirements to maintain membership. It is by knowing these key designations that retailers can educate their customers on what to look for in a gemmologist or appraiser, and how certain accreditation can qualify a professional to render judgment on a particular topic or product. Further, awareness of the various trade-specific credentials can create the value and ‘teeth’ those institutions and associations require to sanction or reprimand their members when a retailer complains of misconduct.
Education breeds value
Training and continuous learning is the knowledge base gemmologists and appraisers use throughout their workday. In addition to the most obvious initial training—which may have been received at a well-known gemmological school—a number of appraisers and gemmologists invest a significant amount of personal time to continue to learn and expand their skills. I have seen this first-hand whenever I organize ‘geek’ sessions as part of the Ontario chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. Not only do the evening seminars sell out, the participants are very engaged and eager to learn and apply their new skills. Gemmologists and appraisers also further their skills by attending trade shows and seminars that are sponsored by various trade leaders and institutions. Although doing so doesn’t necessarily result in additional certificates or designations, it is the enhanced services and products these gemmologists and appraisers provide that can prove to be a valuable asset for the client.
The value of the services provided by well-trained gemmologists and appraisers cannot be measured by how much a gemmologist or appraiser charges for a report. Rather, it should be measured by the enhanced quality of the service the retailer can provide their customers. Over the years, my brother and I have gone well beyond the scope of our services to research information that proved invaluable to our customer. By no means are we unique to this level of service or expertise; I count several colleagues in the industry among those who provide the same care.
By finding a knowledgeable gemmologist and appraiser, retailers can be certain to gain an indispensable business ally that can provide excellent value beyond the cost of an appraisal report.
Hemdeep Patel is head of marketing and product development of Toronto-based HKD Diamond Laboratories Canada, an advanced gemstone and diamond laboratory with locations in Bangkok, Thailand and Mumbai, India. He also leads Creative CADworks, a 3D CAD jewellery design and production firm. Holding a B.Sc. in physics and astronomy, Patel is a third-generation member of the jewellery industry, a graduate gemmologist, and vice-president of the Ontario chapter of the GIA Alumni Association. He can be contacted via e-mail at email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org.