The Gemological Institute of America, Carlsbad, CA, responded quickly to a fraudulent press release in which its logo was used. The release, circulated via e-mail in mid-September, implicated Charles & Colvard, the North Carolina distributor of synthetic moissanite. The e-mail allegedly circulated to at least eight recipients. One recipient was the Rapaport Report, New York City, which stated the information in the release details a $15 million to $20 million fraud involving synthetic moissanite.
According to the Rapaport Report, the release accuses a jewelry manufacturer in Thailand of substituting synthetic moissanite in place of diamonds in a line of jewelry. The jewelry is then said to be sold to unsuspecting tourists expecting diamond jewelry.
"We are very pleased with the way GIA chose to handle this important matter," says Jessica Blue, a spokesperson for Charles & Colvard. "We feel this is an important lesson for anyone whose name and reputation are put on the line. The industry should be well aware of the important roles played by such institutions as GIA, the Jewelers Vigilance Committee and the Jewelry Information Center." She says all institutions mentioned were looking into the matter.
Alex Angelle, a spokesperson for GIA, says it chose to tackle the problem in a methodical way. "First we prepared a news release and e-mailed it to the major trade publications within two hours of becoming aware of the problem," he says. "Then we mailed out a special bulletin via GIA Insider, GIA's e-mail newsletter. Finally, we posted it on the first page of our Web site." Angelle says the industry responded positively to GIA's efforts, gauging by the number of calls he received. "It's amazing how quickly we can handle these issues. In the old days, information like this could take days even weeks to get straightened out."
GIA and Charles & Colvard say they disavow information contained in the fake release and are taking appropriate legal action against the senders. Both say they intend to defend their logos, names and reputations vigorously.
- by Robert Weldon, G.G.