RAPAPORT... International Gemological Institute is the world’s largest independent laboratory for testing and grading diamonds, colored stones and fine jewelry. Established in 1975, IGI has offices in Antwerp, New York City, Hong Kong, Mumbai, Bangkok, Tokyo, Dubai, Tel Aviv, Toronto, Los Angeles, Kolkata, New Delhi, Surat, Chennai, Thrissur, Ahmedabad, Hyderabad, Shanghai, and Cavalese. It also runs Schools of Gemology in several locations around the globe.
Name: Roland Lorie
Company: International Gemological Institute; Co-CEO
1. What differentiates your organization from others?
With my partners and the IGI managers worldwide we like to use the term “glocalisation”; think global, act local. IGI is using the same grading and testing standards worldwide but the working systems can be adapted to local culture. This allows us to combine the best possible product, the IGI certificate, with efficiency by allowing our staffs to work partially based on the local cultures.
2. If you could make any change to the industry, what would it be?
There are many changes I would like to make, but today, immediately, I would tell the leaders of this industry to decide how to handle synthetic diamonds. This is a realistic issue that will most assuredly not disappear. We still see small amounts but it is going to grow for sure. Today decisions can still be made that will have an impact, but 2-3 years from now it could be too late.
3. What advice would you give to someone starting out in the diamond and jewelry sector?
Today it is not a mama and papa business anymore and he/she needs to be very professional in everything he/she does. Not only do you need to have a perfect knowledge of the product you are working with, but you also need to work with bankers, lawyers, accountants, marketing companies, and so on. So don’t hurry, and get the maximum experience outside the industry. I always told my kids “join me the day you will be able to teach me as much as I can teach you”.
4. What prompted you to pursue a career in the diamond and jewelry industry?
I am the fourth generation in this industry and at that time it was the natural choice to follow in the family tradition. At the same time it was, and still is, definitely not the worse trade to be a part of. You work with one of the most beautiful items on this planet: gems.
5. How do you envision your business 10 years from now?
Certificates for diamonds, colored stones and even jewelry have become a trend, a must have. Therefore demand for certification can only grow.
6. Do you have a business philosophy that guides you in your work?
At IGI the philosophy is to serve the industry as best we can, with accuracy, speed and adequate products. Today our customers depend and rely on our expertise and we need to be there for them.
7. What do you consider to be your greatest professional accomplishment?
I would say it would be when my partners and I decided long before the other major labs that we needed to be present in the developing countries. Since 1997 we have opened 18 labs worldwide.
8. What is the toughest professional challenge that you have faced?
When long ago, I had to tell consumers the stones they bought were not diamonds. Luckily today consumers are more informed and it rarely happens.
9. What has been the most notable change in the diamond and jewelry industry over the course of your career?
I cannot talk about just one, there are so many. In the eighties it was probably large chain stores starting to compete with mama & papa retailers. Since the beginning of this century, another notable change has been the rise of the developing countries such as India and China. Internet has changed a lot as well; also by allowing consumers to buy products on the internet, but mainly by providing the consumer with information he had no access to before. It means the consumer is much better informed today and as a result the jeweler has to become more professional. One of the consequences is that there is a much wider use of certification in order to provide the consumer with a maximum of confidence. In the last ten years we have also seen a drastic increase of students in our classes.
10. What role does innovation play in ensuring that your company remains relevant?
With all the challenges such as synthetic diamonds, hpht, imitations and so on, research and development are playing a key role today in order for us to help our customers by providing them with reliable and accurate results.