After viewing QVC live segments featuring GIA spokespersons John King and Debbie Hiss-Odell, the Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, CA, will halt live on-air appearances in favor of taped segments on QVC. The live appearances on QVC took place during selling segments and GIA "felt uncomfortable" about them, says William Boyajian, GIA president.
GIA worried consumers might get the impression GIA was endorsing the QVC products being sold when that's not the case. "Our goal was to increase our exposure to the public so that they would understand our name and our goals," said Boyajian. "We want to increase the education and knowledge of the public through these segments."
GIA will continue to provide taped segments to QVC which are entirely educational to inform the public about its graduate gemologists, its certification services and to disclose basic information about gemstones, treatments and other jewelry-related issues, says Boyajian.
The dilemma for GIA is becoming a common one, as not only television selling but also online sellers need educational and informational segments to provide content to their audiences. Unlike news organizations who provide unbiased information and education, however, many online and television content providers are also in the business of selling merchandise. Institutions that wish to remain independent of these selling efforts, but nevertheless want to be known as jewelry educators, will face the same conflicts GIA is grappling with.
In a separate program, GIA is developing special GIA logos for online use by jewelry sellers who want to promote their support of GIA. The logos will not feature GIA's trademark logo, used in its own promotions. "It makes it clear we are not endorsing any commercial affiliation," says Boyajian. Any jeweler with an online presence who wants to promote its graduate gemologists, GIA certificates or other GIA affiliations will be able to use the GIA name in a way the institute can approve. Rules and guidelines for use of the new logo will accompany it, says Boyajian.
- by Peggy Jo Donahue