National Jeweler: 10 Questions with GSI President & Co-Founder Debbie Azar
In this 10-question Q&A by National Jeweler, Debbie Azar, the President & Co-Founder of Gemological Science International, answers questions about lab-grown diamonds, the future of diamond detection technology, and more.
Lab-grown diamonds continue to generate conversation in the jewelry world.
Some love selling them. Some view them as a threat to the natural diamond market and some just flat-out dislike them.
Opinions aside, being able to separate lab-grown from natural diamonds is important to all parties, making the industry’s grading labs even more indispensable.
Gemological Science International (GSI) says it was one of the first gemological laboratories to find undisclosed lab-grown diamonds mixed into natural diamond jewelry.
Recently, the lab’s president, Debbie Azar, connected with National Jeweler to talk more about the latest detection methods, and how the lab is instilling confidence in its clients.
National Jeweler: Tell us about GSI’s role in the screening and detection process.
Debbie Azar: Recognizing an important need for the jewelry industry, we developed the only service of its kind – screening and detection of all types, sizes, qualities, and price points of jewelry for laboratory-grown diamonds and synthetic colored gemstones.
We developed this service with the retailer in mind, knowing how important it is that they meet the needs for transparency and disclosure of the informed, educated jewelry buyer.
GSI developed proprietary screening and detection processes that have a proven track record. Our processes require specialized equipment, a high level of expertise, ability to stay ahead of new developments, and essential business relationships with equipment developers, diamond growers, manufacturers, and other stakeholders.
We have created a system that can reliably screen and detect laboratory-grown diamonds, natural diamonds, and natural and synthetic colored gemstones, loose or in jewelry of any size, shape, or quality. This is an accomplishment we are proud of, and we see it as vital for our industry.
NJ: In the 16 years you’ve been with the lab, how have the business and the industry changed?
DA: The digital era has made information available at the consumers’ fingertips, and social media has made spreading information easier than it ever was.
In this 24/7 news climate, accuracy, transparency, and full disclosures have become critical to maintaining a jeweler’s reputation and improving consumer confidence in our industry.
The educated consumer—combined with more laboratory-grown diamonds on the market, ever-evolving treatments, and increasing requirements for disclosures and transparency—means top-tier gemological laboratories are more needed than ever.
NJ: In 2018, GSI opened an office dedicated to the screening of lab-grown diamonds. Why was it important for the lab to have a separate space for these stones?
DA: It’s more of a dedicated facility as opposed to a separate space. And there are many reasons for this.
Screening and detection started off as an extension of our laboratory and quickly grew into its own unique service. It is important to have a dedicated laboratory facility because of the complexity of the screening and detection process.
Our process requires a team with specific expertise who have specialized knowledge and skill sets in screening and detection. We also use specialized equipment and a workflow specific for laboratory-grown diamond and synthetic [colored] gemstone detection.
Also, we are screening finished jewelry, in addition to loose stones, and jewelry can require different equipment, depending on its size or shape.
All of our laboratories work together – grading, testing, research, education, and special projects teams all work in conjunction with one another globally to ensure that essential knowledge is transferred across the organization, and we continually deliver on our high standards to our customers.
Communication and consistency are key.
About Debbie Azar
Debbie Azar is the Co-Founder and President of Gemological Science International (GSI), one of the largest gemological organizations in the world, and a distinguished leader in the global diamond and jewelry industry. As an executive with extensive knowledge of the jewelry and gem lab industries, her entrepreneurial skills and vision have helped GSI achieve rapid and continuous growth worldwide, establishing 13 leading-edge gemological facilities on four continents. She currently serves on the boards of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Responsible Jewellery Council, and Jewelers for Children, and is a member of the 24 Karat Club of New York. She has been featured in Forbes, Daily Mail, Good Morning America, Bloomberg, Bloomberg Businessweek, Fox Business, Fox5, CBS2, BOLDTV, Varney&Co, The Street, and NASDAQ, among others.