By Michelle Graff
Jerry Ehrenwald is stepping down as president and CEO of IGI North America, a position he has held for 28 years. He will be replaced by Avi Levy, who most recently served as vice president of sales for Prime Art & Jewel. (Photo courtesy of International Gemological Institute)
New York—The International Gemological Institute announced late Tuesday that longtime North America President and CEO Jerry Ehrenwald is leaving the lab to head an online platform for buying and selling lab-grown diamonds.

He will be succeeded by Avi Levy, whose resume includes MJJ Brilliant Inc. and Renaissance.

Ehrenwald has been with IGI for nearly 40 years, starting with the lab in 1981 to establish an independent appraisal division.

He’s served as IGI North America president and CEO since 1991, and his legacy with the lab includes the invention of the U.S.-patented Laserscribe device, which inscribes unique indicators, such as identification numbers, onto diamonds.

He is moving on to head, a New York-based web platform where consumers, manufacturers, distributors and retailers can buy and/or sell lab-grown diamonds.

With this new position, Ehrenwald remains in the jewelry industry and won’t be completely out of touch with his old colleagues; IGI is one of three grading labs the exchange says it will be using to verify that the stones being traded on its site are lab-grown diamonds. (The other two are GIA and GCAL, according to the website.)

In the press release announcing his departure, Ehrenwald said: “There comes a time in life where you want to do something different, and that time for me is now. I will always keep IGI in my heart and hope to achieve the same level of pride and success with as I have with IGI.”

IGI CEO Roland Lorie noted he and Ehrenwald have spent most of their professional lives working together and said he wishes him all the best in his new endeavor.

Levy, meanwhile, has 30 years of experience in diamond sourcing, manufacturing, product development, brand partnerships and wholesale trade to major jewelry retailers.

2019 Avi LevyAvi LevyAfter starting his career at Star Diamond, he worked for MJJ Brilliant Inc. then left for Renaissance, an India-based jewelry manufacturer. There, he worked with Signet Jewelers to develop the popular Open Hearts by Jane Seymour collection.

A few years later, Levy returned to MJJ Brilliant.

He joins IGI from Prime Art & Jewel, where he has spent the last six months as vice president of sales.

“We are excited to welcome Avi to the team,” Lorie said. “He will play a significant role in bolstering the institute’s relationships and service offerings between the overseas manufacturers and the U.S. customer base.”

In the release, Levy said he looks forward to leading IGI North America’s New York-based team and will work on “growing our current relationships as well as forging new strategic alliances, with a concentrated focus on gaining further recognition and expansion of the IGI global brand.”

Ehrenwald’s IGI exit comes almost exactly a year after news broke that Fosun, a Chinese investment firm that owns stakes in a wide range of companies (U.K. football club the Wolverhampton Wanderers, Club Med and movie-maker Studio 8 are just a few of its holdings), would acquire 80 percent of the company.

The remaining 20 percent is still owned by the Lories, the lab’s founding family.

Ehrenwald told JCK at the time the purchase was announced last September that he would “remain for now.”

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