Red Flags: A Cautionary Tale
It was just over a year ago when a situation of lying about credentials was brought to my attention. A colleague of mine in the US who was studying for her Graduate Gemologist diploma asked me in puzzlement “Could someone who doesn’t know the difference between a natural and synthetic sapphire really have graduated from GIA?” A man had recently been hired by her company and his resume stated that he carried the coveted credentials. The answer to her question was an obvious no, and that was the first of many red flags.
Worried for the company, especially as this new employee was in a management position, signing appraisals as a graduate gemologist, and teaching other staff, my colleague did some digging and ended up completing a GIA education request form. She received an email later that day confirming her suspicions—he had only completed one of the three required courses, and the easiest one at that.
With proof in hand she approached HR where she was nearly fired as they stated she simply had a personal vendetta against the new guy. He was a good salesman and so they didn’t care about his dishonesty towards them, or towards the consumers. Would you want to spend your hard-earned dollars at this place?
Even in Montreal?
Now it’s time to get to the nitty-gritty of the issue… Our home city. Recently, while I was watching Instagram stories, red flags kept surfacing with a big-name company here in Montreal. It was the little things that sparked my curiosity, calling stones “genuine,” claiming stones with poor symmetry were high quality, calling certain colours of stones by the wrong industry terms—the little things kept adding up, so I dug a little deeper.
Something to keep in mind is that anyone can call themselves a jeweller, and anyone can call themselves an appraiser; there is no regulation of those terms. But only those who have completed the intensive education through the Gemological Institute of America can claim to be a GIA Graduate Gemologist—and there on the About Us page was the owner openly claiming to be just that.
Because of the misinformation I’d seen on the company’s Instagram stories presented by the owner, I needed answers. I contacted GIA, who confirmed there was no record of this person completing even a single GIA course.
Here is this company, claiming to carry a high-end product, being exclusively promoted by big name influencers in Montreal, lying outright to the clients they claim to care about.
Call to Action
That’s when I knew I had to start this conversation. Now more than ever, it is time for this narrative, time to discuss integrity, honesty, and authenticity. It is time for change. My clients and followers deserve to know what to look out for and how to safeguard themselves and their purchases.
This is my goal for Part II, check back and follow on social media for the drop date.
A quick point I want to clarify before continuing is the following: the problem is not that these people don’t have the Graduate Gemologist education (though learning from industry leaders in an intensive course really is the best way to gain this kind of education, in my opinion). It’s true that they could have gained relevant information from their time in the industry. The problem is in the deception. If they lie about credentials, what else do they lie about?