Mr. Mark Gershburg, Founder- GSI, in an exclusive interview with The New Jeweller Group –
*Dear Mr. Mark, According to you how important is “Education” for the gems and jewelry industry members, especially in a competitive environment that the sector is today? State any three factors that the industry will achieve in their profession by further educating themselves?
The three factors would be
- The contribution of the Gems and Jewelry Industry to the Indian Economy would be enhanced by Education efforts.
- Education would pave the way for bringing Global standards to India
- Education would help to guide and direct youngsters along a proven path within the Gems and Jewelry Industry
The global market for gems and jewelry industry is approximately over 100 billion with major contributions coming from India, Italy, China, Thailand, and USA. In India Gem & Jewelry industry play a significant role in contributing to the Indian economy and it has gained global popularity because of its talented craftsmen, its superior practices in cutting and polishing fine diamonds and precious stones and its cost-efficiencies. Therefore, creating a significant foundation for Education is important for the industry. In, the past GSI’s Knowledge Centre has aimed to provide excellence in education by imparting technical skills to diamond and jewelry manufacturers, importers and exporters, and retailers. Furthermore, we offer free knowledge seminars at many trade and consumer shows across the country.
* Apart from Certification, Grading, and Identification of Gems and Jewelry Designing, do you think there is a need for education on other aspects such as Sales, Retail management, Merchandising, Brand management etc.? If yes, please elaborate.
While there are plenty of courses for the abovementioned subjects – none of these courses are specific to the Gems and Jewelry Industry. As an example, Brand Management for the FMCG sector is very different from brand management for the Gems and Jewelry Industry. We want to ensure that we bring brand management courses with specific modules and case studies from this Industry.
Diamond and Jewelry courses have always been in demand. Recently gemstone courses have also gained increasing popularity in the sector. New Modules and courses will lead to an increase in skilled employees in the sector. It is important to train the sales staff as a success for any business largely depends on sales acquired. It’s crucial for salespeople to have adequate knowledge and skills so as to educate and offer the customers a superior shopping experience. Merchandizing of jewelry is also a core segment in the gems and jewelry industry, in order to effectively convey the quality and value of jewelry—pricing, packaging, display, and placement must be given as much thought and planning as the jewelry itself.
* In your opinion has the advent of state-of-the-art Technology & Machine tools changed the very conventional medium of education? Can you also cite some instances regarding the introduction of important tools and the need for educating on the same?
I think it is about Access to this state-of-the-art technology. While the technology exists – not everyone has access to it. We help to bridge that gap.
The gems and jewelry industry has predominately been an unorganized sector. Over 90% of the businesses are family-run businesses and around 4% are organized. This is one of the major foreign exchange earners for the Indian economy, its growth, and competitiveness in the global market is to be sustained through the process of innovation. The state of art technology & machines has given impetus by bringing in global standards to India. At GSI we use the underwriter’s technology at various levels of research and development that plays a very important role in education. We use a variety of instruments from very basic to advanced and very advanced, such as Diamond View, Diamond Sure, FTIR spectrometers, Raman spectrophotometers, Light Performance Analyzers, and more.
* With the growth of Lab-grown Diamonds, do you think education will play an important role in the trade as well as consumers to understand the paradigm shift that the sector is witnessing? What are the essential steps that the Diamond sector should initiate and in which levels such as Manufacturing / Retail / Consumer education.
We think it is about giving the customer options not just a certificate. While synthetic diamonds do exist they come at a different price-point so it may actually be possible for both markets to peacefully co-exist – synthetics at the lower end of the market and natural diamonds at the higher end of the market.
The need to create and keep trade consumer confidence is something of a buzzword in the gems and jewelry sector. Today, with small, lab-grown diamonds being mixed undisclosed with parcels of natural rough, there is a heightened sense of urgency in the quest for consumer assurances measures. Educating the traders on various machines available will calm confusion on synthetic. Synthetics diamond has been in the market for a long time but modern methods to synthesize diamonds by the way of the HTPT and CVD processes have led to producing synthetic diamonds of very good gem quality at a cheaper rate compared to natural diamonds. It’s important to educate the traders and consumers exclusively for detection of synthetic diamonds being equipped with the most modern and sophisticated instruments. With present laboratory setup GSI has tested thousands of diamonds that have been tested and certified by the center.
* How important is the education for the next generation to come into the business of gems and jewelry? Is the next generation equipped to handle the requirements and needs of the millennials?
Millennials have some unique needs such as different designs; Custom designs etc to showcase their own individuality. Diamonds play a large part in Jewelry design – so the next generation will have a lot of catching up to do.
The gems and jewelry sector has a direct impact on job creation and provides maximum jobs to people who come from rural areas. India has the oldest craftsmanship and it’s the responsibility of the industry leaders to take forward this lineage and pass it on to the next generation. The GSI Knowledge Centre Program consists of tailored made modules for diamond & jewelry manufacturers, corporates, and retailers. We offer training in colored stones, pearls and jewelry, personality development, and sales skills. GSI quality of education is based on core competencies like transparency, student-friendly, innovation, research-based and skill enhancement, knowledge empowerment, commitment to excellence in markets specific modules and customized and specialized training.
* Lastly, brief us about some of the educational courses offered by GSI at its centers worldwide?
Three nucleus points
- Customized courses
- Both Long term and short term programs
- And a commitment to excellence
GSI Educational courses will be available currently only for corporates which include diamond and jewelry manufacturers importers and exporters, retailers. Modules will be customized specifically as per the corporate need. Training will be offered in the subjects of Diamonds, colored stones, pearls, jewelry, personality development, and sales skills. Long-term and short-term programs will be offered at a later stage for individual students. GSI Education is “A one-stop Destination for Quality Education: with its core qualities being transparency, student-friendly, innovative research, skill enhancement, knowledge empowerment, commitment to excellence and market-specific modules, customized& specialized training.
Debbie Azar is an experienced executive with extensive knowledge of the jewelry and gem lab industries. Her entrepreneurial skills and clarity of vision have helped GSI achieve rapid and continuous growth worldwide.
She began her industry career by starting her own successful costume jewelry business. She then expanded her knowledge of the industry with sales, marketing and business development roles at several companies. In 2005, she joined Mark Gershburg to establish GSI. Ms. Azar is an active member of myriad industry organizations and charities; she currently serves as a Board Member of Jewelers for Children. She is also a Forbes Business Council member.
Her strengths include working directly with retail chains and stores to help build their business and brands. She is widely known in the industry for her commitment to meeting customer needs.