Written by Micah Brown On June 24, 2016.
When our store first opened on November 1, 1999 we could not imagine the amazing journey that this would be. From helping couples who have looked through hundreds of rings to find the “one,” enjoying your reaction to seeing a finished ring we helped you design, or sharing our education and knowledge about diamonds, colored stones, or jewelry design and repair. Through it all we are dedicated to do the right thing for you, our customer.
In order to do what is right, we make sure our staff is properly educated and trained to the highest standards in our industry, those of the American Gem Society (AGS), which is the country’s preeminent jewelry trade organization dedicated to consumer protection. In order to better your understanding as to why the accreditations and titles we obtain from this prestigious institution are of utmost importance, let us first share with you a little background on AGS.
The American Gem Society was founded in 1934 by a small group of leading jewelers. Their goal was to create an organization that could help protect the jewelry-buying public from fraud and false advertising. Today approximately 3,400 jewelers, retailers, suppliers, individual titleholders and affiliates have joined the American Gem Society and have dedicated themselves to consumer protection, ethical business practices, and development and maintenance of superior gemological skills and knowledge. Joining AGS is no easy process, every member must go through a peer-reviewed application process followed by an annual recertification exam. Even then only 1 in 20 jewelers have met the exacting requirements necessary for membership. This process ensures that every AGS member you meet is at the top of their game, and more importantly, each one has pledged to protect you, the consumer. You can read more about the AGS code of ethics by clicking here.
With that bit of background, the certifications and accreditations from AGS are so important for many reasons. The main reason being, they are a testament to the highest education achievable in all of the jewelry industry. In our industry, education is vital at every aspect of production, from mining to the sales floor. For example; if you have an educated miner who sells to an educated cutter who supplies to an educated retailer, and the retailer in turn educates the customer about the jewelry industry, diamonds, or colored gemstones with the best available knowledge, the now informed customer is protected from bad decisions based on impulse or underhanded sales tactics.
Titles and designations from AGS are no small undertaking, the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA) is the highest level of distinction an individual can achieve as it relates to jewelry, diamonds and colored stones. It represents years of study, equivalent to the amount of time required for a masters degree from most liberal arts colleges or universities which garners the pre-requisite title Certified Gemologist (CG). In order to earn the title Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA) a CG must take a multi-day, on location, course for jewelry appraisal, the culmination of which is a rigorous two-part exam, (including theory questions and practical assignments based on performing a number of accurate, thoroughly detailed, complete appraisals on a variety of jewelry items.) Even with all that work, an individual cannot officially hold a CGA title until their store or office location has been accredited as a Gemological Laboratory.
The accreditation of our sole location as a Gemological Laboratory is another pre-requisite for us to have two individuals with CGA titles in our store. To be considered for accreditation as a Gemological Laboratory, a location must have on the premises: a binocular microscope specifically designed for use with gemstones (called a gem scope), at least five master diamonds for color grading purposes which are graded and registered by the AGS (these diamonds serve as a Pantone® set of sorts for assessing the color, or lack thereof, in a diamond), scientific measuring and testing equipment for the identification of gemstones, their synthetic counterparts, imitations and treatments (everything from special lighting environments to specific chemicals), along with a substantial and varied library of reference materials.
Today we are proud to announce that by the grace of God and after over fifty years of hard work through combined efforts of Sterling, our owner, who began his journey in the jewelry industry in the late 70′s, and Brian, our Store Manager, who got his start when we opened in 1999. We have achieved the most prestigious accreditation and certifications our industry has to offer, Accredited Gemological Laboratory and both Sterling and Brian now carry the title of Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA). Did we mention that currently there are less than 400 AGS jewelers in all of North America that carry this title and accreditation and two of them are our associates? You should be proud of this combined effort which enables us to provide YOU with educated and ethical based customer service because without you we wouldn’t have a store where we can learn and grow.