a publication of the International School of Gemology 18.August.2012

Is the GIA the "Official Gemology School" of this industry?

Over the past few weeks I have been contacted by several people from various parts of the industry regarding the claim being made by the GIA in their Google Adwords ads (see banner at the top of this page) that are showing up on websites around the internet. As you can see the GIA has gone from just touting itself as the "world's foremost authority on gemology" ® to now being the "Official Gemology School" of the industry. Which has made many of our potential students ask the question: Is the GIA the "official" gemology school of the industry?

Since we are competitors of the GIA we are not going to make this determination but rather simply offer you some evidence and let you make up your own mind. There are, after all, many fine gemology schools out there. So for one school to formally and publicly claim to be the "Official Gemology School" there must be some kind of "officiating" involved.

Let's first look up the formal definition of the term "Official"....

Oxford Dictionary definition of: official


having the approval or authorization of an authority or public body:

Dictionary.com: of·fi·cial

[uh-fish-uh l]

appointed or authorized to act in a designated capacity:an official representative.

So by these definitions, when the GIA claims a position as the "Official Gemology School" they are representing that they have the "approval or authorization of an authority or public body", or that they are "appointed or authorized to act in a designated capacity" such as "an official representative" of the gemology industry.
Here, of course, is the problem.....there is no"authority or public body" in this industry to bestow that kind of "official" standing on any gemology school. And to our knowledge, the GIA has never been "appointed or authorized to act in a designated capacity" as the "Official School of Gemology" of this industry, once again since there are no authorized bodies with the power to appoint any one gemology school as the "Official Gemology School".
This leaves us with a problem: it has been difficult enough for the GIA to hold itself out as the "world's foremost authority in gemology" but that has flown simply because the bull shite meter is pretty much off the charts in this industry anyway when it comes to unsubstantiated advertising claims. But when the GIA starts awarding itself status as the "Official School of Gemology" for the world's gemology industry.........and without any substantiation of that claim......well, let's see what the US Federal Trade Commission says about this kind of advertising....

US Federal Trade Commission Guides for the Jewelry Industry, CFR Title 16, Section 23.2

§ 23.2 Misleading illustrations.

It is unfair or deceptive to use, as part of any advertisement, packaging material, label, or other sales promotion matter, any visual representation, picture, televised or computer image, illustration, diagram, or other depiction which, either alone or in conjunction with any accompanying words or phrases, misrepresents the type, kind, grade, quality, quantity, metallic content, size, weight, cut, color, character, treatment, substance, durability, serviceability, origin, preparation, production, manufacture, distribution, or any other material aspect of an industry product.

If the GIA has not formally been given authority by this industry as the "Official Gemology School", then by my reckoning this falls under an "unfair and deceptive" advertising in my opinion. According to the GIA claim....the Canadian Institute of Gemmology, the California Institute of Jewelry Training, the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences, the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, the International School of Gemology, the Texas Institute of Jewelry Technology, the International Gemological Institute........we are just "unofficial" schools because after all....we can only have one "Official School of Gemology". Right?
To our fellow gemological education organizations: Consider what your prospective students are thinking when they they are told, by the GIA, that the GIA is the "Official Gemology School"?
To all gemology students past, current and future: The GIA is simply one of many non-profit gemology schools in the world. It was established by the American Gem Society many years ago. It has no formal or legal designation or power to issue any kind of "official" designation or license, nor does it hold any special legal status. They only have a very creative promotions department with someone with balls of steel. The title of GIA Graduate Gemologist carries no more and no less weight than any other gemology school. The title of GIA Graduate Gemologist carries no formal or legal license that sets it apart from any other school's title or diploma. I know....I am a GIA Graduate Gemologist and have been for years.
To Donna Baker and the GIA Advertising Team: Stop this misleading advertising. You are not going to do yourself or this industry any favors by making Google ads that rely on deceptive advertising. We need unity. We need to work together. And quite honestly, I studied with Richard T. Liddicoat, Jr. and I do not believe he would ever endorse this kind of antics from anyone in the GIA. This kind of thing is not what the GIA was built on.

The Bottom Line: If this industry had some kind of uniform standards, and a central certifying body like other professional industries have, we could file a complaint against the GIA over this misleading advertising that is hurting our business and the business of every gemology school out there that competes with the GIA. Unfortunately, we have no uniform standards, and no unifying body to oversee this industry. So we will continue to endure this kind of thing in the industry until we do.

We must have uniform standards, and it must come from all of us little guys. The big establishment corporations have proven themselves severely lacking from being up to the task.


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