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GIA Correction

By Charles Wyndham.

No, I am not talking about one of the GIA certificates.

In my article ‘Thanks to GIA, Boney and Accra’ (25/10/2005), a kind reader has queried the numbers I gave for the GIA turnover and the charitable donations.

I quoted a figure of around $80 million turnover and $50,000 for ‘charity’.

For the turnover I stupidly omitted the number two so the turnover for 2003 was actually, $289.9 million. The $50,000 was correct.

The figure of $50,000, or to be more precise $49,873, was made up of $11,778 of total cash grants to various charities and $38,095 of what was termed ‘Student Scholarships (Tuition reduction, non cash).

These numbers are taken from Statement 24 on would you believe it, page 83 out of a great wadge of 85 pages. At least I can prove that I turned the pages.

So there can be no clearer evidence for what was sold to me, as  the GIA being a charitable education organization, by  a reader who thought when I touched upon this topic of donations that I was being far too harsh. 

The GIA clearly falls over backwards to ensure that all the worlds most impoverished can beat a path to join it in its mission statement, “to ensure the public trust in gems and jewellery upholding the highest standards of integrity, academics, sciences and professionalism through education…”

The GIA really has something about its drive to be the custodian of the industry’s morals.

Its website lists exactly the same reasons for giving to its worthwhile cause, that certainly sprung to my mind if not yours, namely, “your support… says you believe in only the highest quality and ethical standards for the trade…”

This must have been behind the pledge of $6.8 million which resulted in the GIA’s Carlsbad campus being named after Robert Mouawad.

If by any chance you enjoy squirming in your seat I suggest you read the press release on the GIA web site to celebrate this momentous day for the diamond industry, as the participants tried to outdo each other in the most revoltingly sycophantic mutual admiration club, aka, the GIA.

It would be unkind to single out this one incident or even one company, even if the company clearly has more to gain than most from its ‘Special Life Time Achievement’ award.

As one would expect and certainly hoped for in supporting the dissemination of such high morals, the De Beers Group is listed as one of the second largest donator. It must all be part of their Best Practice Principals. Unlike the other second largest donor theirs was not sullied by a little asterisk signifying that their gift included a ‘planned gift’.

In fact I was wondering if as part of the company’s Supplier of Choice criteria companies get extra points for the size of their donations?

Reading about all this altruism reminds me of the practice started by Pope Urban II who came up with the exemplary idea of ‘plenary indulgences’.

The idea was simplicity itself.  The Pope granted full remission for all sins so long as the individual went off in the Crusade to liberate Jerusalem murdering as many Muslims as possible.

This convenient practice was rejuvenated by Pope Leo X four hundred years later when running short of money, he moved the goal posts away from simple murdering to money. Much of the great basilica of St Peters in Rome is built on the proceeds of selling indulgences, ie remission for all sins, simply by paying money.

The Popes were clearly better business men than the GIA. There was never any question of such rich rewards going to those who merely ‘planned gifts’. It was a strictly cash business.

However, the GIA has tried to democratize its munificence to include those who cannot afford to make it to a ‘Special Life Time …’, they can still aspire to the Donor Wall of Honor.

The only walls of honor that I know about are the black granite wall listing all those American soldiers killed in Vietnam or the British memorial at the Menin Gate in Ypres listing those killed and for whom there is no marked grave following  the three battles fought there in the Great War.

Coincidentally, the list of names on both memorials are roughly the same number, around 50,000 each.

All I can, at the moment, is if I had been silly enough to get my name stuck up on the GIA wall I would be paying to get it taken off bloody quickly. However, this time perhaps I would think it would be an idea to get the money to something actually worthwhile and not something so obviously dripping in putrefaction as the GIA.

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