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GIA Has Opened in Israel

10 september 2012

Avigdor Lieberman, Israel’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, cut the ribbon to signify the opening of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) laboratory in Israel together with GIA President and Chief Executive Officer, Donna Baker, during a festive ceremony in Ramat Gan, Israel’s diamond district, Rough&Polished were reported at IDI.
“The establishment of the GIA laboratory here in Israel is a small step for your organization, but one giant step for the Israeli diamond industry,” said Lieberman, recalling the words of recently deceased Neil Armstrong as he first walked on the moon.
Lieberman gave the packed audience of Israeli diamantaires an overview of the country’s political situation, having first paid tribute to the country’s diamond sector. “Israel’s diamond industry has been a mainstay of our economy for many years. It is really very important to us,” he explained.
Turning to the political and security situation he noted that, “It is a very crucial time not only for us and the region but for the entire world.” He explained that it has always been assumed that the main reason for the conflict in the Middle East was the situation between Israel and the Palestinians. Lieberman pointed out that there is no connection between Israel and the events of the Arab spring, which has seen uprisings in Tunisia, Bahrain and other countries and 19 months of terrible slaughter in Syria. He noted that the international community does a lot of talking over Syria but cannot manage to do anything in practice. “The international community makes promises to Israel, but how can we trust them with our security? We can only trust ourselves,” he said. “Some 98 percent of those killed in the Middle East die in situations that have nothing to do with Israel,” he said later.
GIA President Donna Baker, on her first trip to Israel, commented that the short time since the plans to open a GIA lab were first announced in July 2011 serves as a testament to the commitment of the industry towards this project.
“Thank you very much for inviting GIA to be part of the diamond community here. We look forward to supporting you, with a relationship that grows over time. It is an honor and pleasure to be here in Ramat Gan. With such dedicated and visionary advocates, and the support of the industry, there was never any doubt that once we began talking three years ago, that the GIA would bring services to the Israeli industry,” said Baker.
“GIA serves the public. We need global standards and a global network like the one we are establishing here. Common standards transcend borders, language and distance, all helping to support the public trust. We are putting GIA where the diamond industry does its business,” said Baker, noting that the GIA lab in Israel marks the first laboratory in this continent.
Bumi Traub, President of the Israel Diamond Manufacturers Association, opened the ceremony with a blessing in Hebrew, and spoke of the great efforts to bring the GIA to Israel. He talked of the benefits such a laboratory would provide for the Israeli industry including a much faster turnaround than having to send diamonds overseas to be certified by the GIA.
Moti Ganz, President of the International Diamond Manufacturers Association and Chairman of the Israel Diamond Institute, spoke of the country’s relationship with the GIA. “Our affair with the GIA didn’t begin today, but a number of years ago. In 1971, there was the first GIA course in Israel. For years we dreamed of bringing the GIA to here. We tried our own laboratory, but that didn’t quite work. But if there is no perseverance, then there will be no success,” Ganz explained.
Ganz said that the GIA’s presence in Israel means real time and cost savings for local diamond companies. Industry leaders showed the tax authorities that the presence of a GIA laboratory in Israel translates into savings of $30-50 million each year for the Israeli diamond industry, he explained.
Ganz also spoke of the next phase of the GIA development in Israel – education. “Our next thing for the GIA will be education. The studies will be in Israel with no need to travel to California. This is something that we can be proud of and that the GIA can be proud of,” he explained.
During the ceremony, a number of people who had contributed significantly to bringing the GIA to Israel were honored. These included Minister Lieberman, accountant Moshe Leon, GIA accountant Arad Berkovits, GIA’s lawyer in Israel Eyal Flum, diamantaire Elliot Tannenbaum, GIA senior vice president of laboratory and research Tom Moses, and managing director of the Israel Diamond Institute Udi Sheintal.
The lab, which officially opens for business September 4th, will accept diamonds up to 2.99 carats.

Tatiana Alexandrova, Rough&Polished, Moscow