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American Gem Society

The American Gem Society was established in 1934 by a Robert M. Shipley, founder of the prestigious school of gemology the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), and a select group of independent jewelers with a vision to create an association dedicated to setting and maintaining the highest possible standards of business ethics and professionalism in the jewelry industry. Their website is www.americangemsociety.org.

This carries forward today with strict requirements for anyone to be a member of the American Gem Society with only a small percentage (around 5 percent) of those who apply for membership in the American Gem Society are actually granted membership.

In order for a firm to become a member of the American Gem Society they must meet the following criteria:

The firm owners, principals, or employees must have a high level of gemological knowledge. This includes having at least one full-time employee who has studied and completed an Accredited or Graduate Program from the GIA or Gemological Association of Great Britain. This individual must hold a title of either Registered Jeweler, Certified Gemologist, or Certified Gemologist Appraiser.

The firm must hold a reputation for unquestioned integrity in the business community and must be operated in a way that will enhance the confidence of the public in the jewelry industry.

The owners and principals must demonstrate that they are genuinely interested in high business ethics and the firm exemplifies this belief. The firm must be a retail or supplier jewelry business that has been established for at least two years and has demonstrated financial stability.

The society has a very strict code of ethics and it is made plain on the website that anyone found to violate the code can be subject to investigation and possible expulsion.

According to this society:

To ensure our members practice the highest standard of business ethics, the Society prohibits certain business practices, including:

Advertising which in any way is not the truth or has the intent to be misleading.
Advertising or setting artificially high prices as the regular price to allow a fictitious sale price or supposed discount.
Representing itself as a wholesaler and selling to the consumer.
Employing the technique of bait and switch, which is attempting to influence customers to buy an article carrying a high mark-up in place of an article requested.
Failing to advertise in accordance with recommendations set forth by the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

There are five member Titles that can be bestowed on member that have passed rigorous examinations and tests. The Certified Gemologist Appraiser is a very coveted title in the industry and extremely well regarded. These titles are:

Registered Jeweler (RJ). Earned by individuals who have successfully completed the required course work and classroom study of diamonds and colored stones and who adhere to the American Gem Society's code of ethics. This title must be renewed annually based on continuing education and on sustained ethical business practices.

Certified Gemologist (CG). A more advanced title offered by the American Gem Society requires additional study in diamonds and colored gemstones as well as the mastery of sophisticated testing procedures. This title must be renewed annually based on continuing education and on sustained ethical business practices.

Certified Gemologist Appraiser (CGA). This title is the most highly regarded in the industry. Earning the CGA title requires more advanced training and experience in determining the value of gemstones and jewelry. CGA titleholders must also pass periodic colorvision screening and an annual re-certification exam to maintain this prestigious title. The firm must maintain an Accredited Gem Laboratory® * on the premises.

Independent Certified Gemologist Appraiser (ICGA). This title is awarded to the individual member whose sole business is appraising. The ICGA does not engage in purchasing or selling gems or jewelry. In addition to the requirements for the CGA, the independent appraiser has completed an extensive course in personal property appraising and is responsible for submitting proof of continuing education every five years.

There are also Member Classifications to which a member may belong. These are:

Firms. A firm or company must have been in business a minimum of two years and maintain at least one full-time employee who is an American Gem Society titleholder. The firm also agree to possess the required gemological equipment appropriate to its category of membership. Member firms include Retail Jewelers, Suppliers and Independent Certified Gemologist Appraisers (ICGA).

Retail Firm. A retail firm is primarily engaged in the sale of jewelery to the consumer and does not operate as a wholesaler or pawnbroker. Supplier Firm. A supplier firm is engaged primarily in the sale and/or manufacturing of jewelry to the retailer.

ICGA Firm. A ICGA Firm is engaged primarily in the evaluation and valuation of jewelry and does not partake in the sale or purchase of jewelry. There are other titles available also such as:

Affiliate. An individual who previously held a title, but is not currently employed with an American Gem Society Member Firm. Student Affiliate. Engaged in or meets the educational requirements of membership and is employed by a firm that is completing membership requirements.

Honorary. Individuals or firms that are recognized for their outstanding service to the industry or Society. Firm Member. A company engaged primarily in the sale of jewelry to the consumer and does not operate as a wholesaler or pawnbroker. Sustaining Firm. Organizations associated with the jewelry industry but not in the manufacturing or sale of jewelry.

Certified Sales Associate. Individuals who have successfully completed the Graduate Sales Associate course and The AGS Professional module, and who are actively selling in an American Gem Society Member Firm. This designation also requires the successful completion of an annual Recertification Exam.

Certified Jewelry Arts Professional. The American Gem Society designation, Certified Jewelry Arts Professional, recognizes bench jewelers who have completed not only a certain level of expertise at the bench, but who also have made the commitment to the ideals of the Society by completing the AGS Way course. This elevates the status of the jewelry arts professional as a craftsperson with the same level of ethics and standards as the rest of the firm.

The AGS offer a number of educational courses ranging from Sales to the practice of appraising jewelery. The AGS is definietly one iof the places to go to seek out a reputable jeweler and get advice about one's jewelery.

* The American Gem Society Accredited Gem Lab is a special designation awarded to select members that have met the strict requirements listed below:

A permanent designated laboratory space
Diamond scales that measure carat weight to 0.002 carat accuracy
Binocular microscope with at least 10X magnification
Leveridge gauge or millimeter gauge for measuring diamonds and color gemstones
Diamond grading light source for evaluating diamond color
Master Color Comparison diamonds for evaluating diamond color
Refractometer - testing of color gemstones
Polariscope - testing of color gemstones
Dichroscope - testing of color gemstones
Long wave and short wave UV light source - testing of diamonds and color gemstones
Specific gravity liquids or scale attachment - testing of color gemstones
A gemological reference library - source of information regarding the identification, evaluation and valuation of diamonds and color gemstones,
AND A Certified Gemologist® or Certified Gemologist Appraiser American Gem Society® on staff to oversee the proper use of the equipment and library.

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