Destino Named Chairman of GIA; Boyajian to Stay on as President

November 21, 2005

Destino Named Chairman of GIA; Boyajian to Stay on as President

Ralph Destino, former chairman and president of Cartier, Inc., was appointed chairman of the Gemological Institute of America, a newly created position, it was announced today by GIA's board of governors. Destino has full responsibility for overseeing the operations and policies of the organization. William E. Boyajian, in his capacity as GIA's president, will report to Destino.

Destino's appointment comes after an independent investigation revealed in October that certain lab clients may have improperly attempted to influence the outcome of the GIA Laboratory's grading reports, which is a violation of GIA's ethics code. Four lab employees were fired last month after the investigation. Lab Head Thomas C. Yonelunas also resigned, though he was not implicated in any violations of the ethics code.

In addition to Destino's appointment, he and the governors announced that, in order to avoid any appearance of impropriety, GIA will no longer solicit or accept donations from diamantaires whose stones are graded in the lab. The GIA Lab will also discontinue its "membership" structure, creating a new single price structure for all diamantaire clients for 2006. Finally, the names of those diamond dealers who may have violated GIA's code of ethics have been turned over to law enforcement officials. GIA notified these dealers that it will no longer accept diamonds from them for grading.

The changes and new initiatives at GIA were announced after the board of governors held a three-day meeting, where the group determined that Destino, a longtime governor of GIA, was "uniquely qualified" to assume leadership. "[Ralph Destino] has our deepest respect and our fullest confidence. We believe that this appointment, as well as the new initiatives we are implementing, should signal to the diamond trade, in the strongest terms, the seriousness and depth of commitment the board has with regard to ensuring that the industry can place its trust in GIA as the standard for diamond grading, worldwide," the board said in a press release.

"I am honored to take on this active management role and pledge to work tirelessly with the board of governors, as well as partnering closely with Bill Boyajian, to instill a new culture at GIA," said Destino. "If we are to continue to earn the trust of diamond dealers, other tradespeople and the public, we must maintain the very highest ethical standards and a zero tolerance policy that are beyond reproach."

Destino said the initiatives announced today are among many new policies and practices that GIA plans to announce in the coming weeks and months. The board of governors also formed a special operations committee to address other important policy issues that will lead to additional initiatives. "These first steps are just the beginning of a new culture that is shaping at GIA," says Destino. "We take this matter very seriously and we expect both our employees and clients to do so as well."

- by Peggy Jo Donahue

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