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The Face Of Diamond Certification
Roland Lorie, Co-CEO, International Gemological Institute (IGI)
By: Diamond World News Service
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Jun 15 2013 12:46PM
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Reference: 7901  

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Anyone who has ever purchased a good quality diamond knows about the International Gemological Institute (IGI). Meet Roland Lorie, Co-CEO, IGI, the world's largest provider of diamond and gemstone identification and grading services, as well as jewellery appraising services for fine jewellery. Having worked here for the last 38 years, Lorie discovered and developed India as an IGI centre, and is the face of this organisation,together with his two partners, Jerry Ehrenwald and Marc Brauner. Lorie is a people’s person, who prefers compromise to disputes. He loves to be surprised, take long walks, and spend time with his family. He also loves to travel and discover the beauty of this planet. His enthusiasm at discovering new places is child-like and contagious. In a free wheeling dialogue with Aasha Gulrajani Swarup, Lorie speaks of his plans for India, his children and his dreams.

There was never any question or doubt in his mind. His heart always knew he would be a part of the diamond industry. Born in a fourth generation diamond family, ever since he was little, diamonds were always in discussion. Roland Lorie had heard his parents and their friends talking about diamonds and their family history of diamonds.

His great grandfather on the maternal side was a gem dealer travelling to East Europe and London for the sights and New York for trading. He moved to Antwerp at the end of the 19th century. Lorie’s grandfather on the paternal side was also in the diamond business. Having been through World War II, Lorie grew up with many stories of how these little high value stones had saved their lives, helping them restart lives and follow dreams.

During the harrowing years of World War II, when diamonds were the only recognized international currency, Lorie’s maternal grandparents, traveled from Belgium to Brazil with a few bare essentials and some stones, which enabled them to settle in a new city and start a new career. Likewise, his father’s side of the family, remained hidden for three years in a home in Belgium, where a non-Jewish family, putting their lives in danger, provided them with food, bought on the black market. Once again diamonds proved to be the best currency.

Since a young age, Lorie realised that the intrinsic strength of the diamond, unlike other products, lay in two factors – luxury and investment. After studies, it only seemed normal for Lorie to join his father’s diamond certification business, started in partnership with Herman Brauner, who set up the gemological aspect of the business.Lorie says that Brauner, although retired today, is still the best specialist in the world for everything relating to the identification of synthetics and treatments of diamonds and other gemstones. Lorie’s father was the man in front, meeting customers, travelling to the U.S. where most of the diamonds were traded and managing the business. They were complementary and worked well together until joined by the next generation – Lorie in 1975 and then Marc Brauner, ten years later.

“At the time, diamond certification was the new thing in demand. But, till the early 80’s very few people knew about the existence of certification. For centuries, people had bought gems only based on what the jeweller was telling them. While many jewellers were honest, most were taking advantage of the situation,” Lorie cites.

The ignorance started to melt with certification services.Lorie realised that certification was the key to retain the intrinsic value of diamonds because, “No one chooses diamonds just for pleasure, simply because the price is too high. No one looks at diamonds just as an investment because the real value is often difficult to define. The reality is more complex; women love the glitter of jewellery and men love the idea of buying a present that will keep its intrinsic value forever,” Lorie said. Therefore, certification was the missing link. It enabled everyone to receive the same information from an independent third party.

When Lorie entered the business, the same year that IGI started, in 1975,he little knew that one day he would become an essential force within the organisation. Lorie and his father looked at new markets for certification. Just to work in Antwerp was not enough. In 1980, IGI opened an office in New York and went on to become the first major laboratory, issuing certificates for diamondjewellery, with a lot of success.

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