Bill Boyajian, president of GIA from 1986 to 2006, is known for a vision that took the Institute to its global position. His path to the gem and jewelry industry began during college, when he was offered a job at the jewelry counter of a local department store. He soon discovered a love of jewelry and gems and a desire for a career in the industry. His boss told him that GIA was the starting point, and he began classes three weeks after graduating.
About his first diamond class, taught by Jim Lucey, Boyajian said, “I knew then what I was going to do—I wanted to be like that man and teach that class!” He applied for a job at GIA just before finishing his G.G. in 1975 and began teaching at the Santa Monica campus in 1976.
Over the next several years, Boyajian’s positions included instructor, grader, colored stone program supervisor, manager of new product development, and marketing manager. Then in 1986 the Board of Governors selected him to become president when Glenn Nord stepped down for health reasons. Boyajian was only 34 years old, but Nord and his predecessor, Richard Liddicoat, had long seen him as the person to lead the Institute into the next century. “He had a total belief in what GIA can do for the industry and a dedication to gemology,” Nord said.
A self-described idealist, Boyajian is recognized for his management and marketing skills and his talent for inspiring others. He was the first to initiate long-range strategic planning with the GIA Master Plan in the 1980s, and he began GIA’s global education expansion. The size of the laboratory more than doubled under his leadership, and he oversaw the move to the Carlsbad campus in the mid-1990s. He also initiated GIA’s colored stones grading system. A noted speaker and writer, he has lectured and published extensively, including authoring or coauthoring 19 articles for Gems & Gemology.
Since leaving the Institute in 2006, Boyajian has consulted for jewelers and other businesses and published a book on leadership. His industry recognition includes the Diamond Industry Steering Committee Hall of Fame (1998), the National Conference for Community Justice Humanitarian Award (1998), an AGTA Honorary Life Membership (1999), the AGS Circle of Distinction (2002), the WJA Ben Kaiser Award for Excellence (2005), and the American Gem Society’s Robert M. Shipley Award (2013).
“I put no limits on what I or GIA can do,” Boyajian told Jewelers’ Circular Keystone during his tenure at the Institute. “What’s necessary today is to serve a cause that will last a lot longer than any of us. That is the ultimate motivator.”