The American Gem Society is a trade association comprising of jewelry merchants, independent appraisers, suppliers, and other members with a special interest in the jewelry industry. Robert M. Shipley founded the company in 1934. The main objective of AGS is training and certifying gemologists, jewelers, as well as jewelry appraisers. Like other agencies, such as the GIA, AGS specializes in diamond grading. The company continuously develops high standards in diamond cut, clarity, and color.
AGS is based in Las Vegas, Nevada. It runs affiliate bodies, such as the American Gem Society Laboratories (AGSL) and the American Gem Society Advanced Instruments Division. The agency boasts over 3,400 members. The membership comprises of jewelers, suppliers, retailers, affiliates, and individual titleholders. AGS has jewelry consumers’ best interests at heart. The organization strives to protect shoppers from illegal industry practices by enforcing ethical business ideals.
The History of AGS
The history of AGS can be traced back to the 1920s. At that time, Robert M. Shipley was an influential jewelry merchant. One day, Shipley experienced a very humbling but awakening experience. During his heydays as a jewelry seller, Shipley believed he was the best merchant around. He thought he knew everything there was to know about jewelry in general. But that was before a pair of his repeat customers proved to him otherwise.
Shipley took the challenge positively. He reckoned that the apparent lack of expertise among many jewelry merchants accounted for the growing distrust between traders and their customers. When he later divorced, he ended up losing his jewelry store. Shipley would then move to Europe with one sole motive – to learn more about jewelry. As soon as he got there, he enrolled for a correspondence course with the Great Britain National Association of Goldsmiths. Upon completing the course, he traveled back to LA with a wealth of gemological knowledge and experience.
On 16 September 1930, Shipley founded a preliminary course in gemology. He focused all his time and energy on training local gemologists. During his training programs, Shipley introduced and fostered a somewhat new concept in the jewelry industry. The focus would no longer be on profit-generation, but exceptional customer service. It’s from his efforts that the phrase “certified gemologist” came into existence.
Shoppers were now keen on dealing only with certified gemologists. That created a ripple effect, forcing even more traders to enlist for Shipley’s training programs.
From the 1930s, AGS has been on a consistent growth trajectory. The organization has introduced some of the globally-accepted concepts and practices in the jewelry trade. Some of these achievements include;
- The invention of the first scientifically-reviewed Cut Grade method.
- The creation of the Ideal Cut Grade for use on Round Brilliant diamonds. The cut is commonly referred to as the Triple Zero Cut or the AGS Ideal.
- Offering the first diamond grading reports with Oval and Emerald cuts, as well as a Cut Grade for Princess.
Services Offered by AGS
It’s almost impossible to discuss AGS without mentioning the AGS Laboratories. That’s because most of the operations of this organization are centered around its laboratory. The AGS Laboratories was established in 1996. Like the association, this laboratory is a non-profit entity. It was founded mainly to enhance consumer protection.
The main service that the AGS Laboratories offer is diamond grading. And being a third-party association, you can trust the lab’s grading reports to be unbiased. Also, the reports are very consistent. That’s because they’re prepared by some of the industry’s most professionally-trained gemologists. All the grading processes in the lab are scientifically-conducted.
It doesn’t matter whether you’re a diamond dealer or buyer, you can always task the AGS Laboratories with your diamond grading needs. The laboratory’s grading certifications usually indicate the specific elements in your diamond. You’ll know how much the stone weighs, and what cut it is. You’ll also establish the diamond’s color and clarity score. If you’re a dealer, you can easily put a price on your merchandise based on the report. And if you’re a buyer, the report will help give an accurate appraisal of a diamond before buying it.
AGS ensures their grading reports meet the minimum threshold for acceptability. As such, these reports often feature the following elements;
- Accuracy and precision in grading.
- Clarity in preparation. Graders use a language that’s easy for the report-holder to read and interpret.
- The use of cutting-edge patented grading technology. The technology is scientifically-driven, thereby ensuring accuracy and consistency each time.
- Up to six security measures. That guarantees their authenticity.
Besides their diamond grading services, AGS Laboratories also offer laser-inscription. The lab uses a micro laser beam to make inscriptions into a diamond. The inscription could be of anything, from a company logo, a unique text, image, or serial number. In most cases, the inscriptions are made on the girdle. That way, you can view them only through a magnification device. You probably already know how vital these inscriptions can be. Notably, they give your diamond a unique identity, which adds to their overall value. Also, they can help you to track and identify a lost diamond. The best part is that the service doesn’t interfere with the quality of your diamond.
Information Resource Center
Besides laboratory services, the AGS website is a goldmine of information. Here, you can learn just about anything concerning diamonds and jewelry in general.
The site has a page dedicated to diamonds in particular. On this page, you’ll learn about the history of diamonds and how the AGS diamond grading system works. You’ll also discover how diamond engagement rings became fashionable. If you’re thinking of buying diamonds but aren’t sure where to start, there’s a comprehensive buying guide for you. The buying guide focuses mainly on the Four Cs, along with other considerations. Lastly, there are tips on how to verify that a diamond report is from AGS.
Another section of the website is dedicated to jewelry in general. From birthstones to pearls and gemstones, you’ll learn how to identify and shop for these gems.
Next, there’s a section that discusses the jewelry industry. Here, you’ll uncover some of the emerging trends in this lucrative sector. You’ll also find out more about how to become an accredited AGS member. It’s a rigorous procedure, and only the best in the industry gets accepted. Needless to mention, you can use the AGS website to locate a licensed AGS supplier.
Challenges in the diamond industry are never in short supply. From issues of blood diamonds to inconsistent grading reports, there’s always something for consumers to grapple with. Therefore, there’s a need for associations that can stand in the gap and restore the much-required sanity. But the most important thing is that such agencies must be independent. And that’s what defines the AGS’ role in the jewelry industry.
Ever since its inception, the company has always been a not-for-profit entity. So, unlike most gemological agencies out there, AGS doesn’t focus on profit-generation. Instead, it aims to instill consumer confidence by setting the industry’s best practices. The fact that it’s also independent means there’s no interference from conflicting interests. Therefore, you can view their reports, certifications, and even news publications as credible and authentic.
Also, AGS is a one-stop solution for all your diamond needs. You can contact them for diamond testing, grading, and appraisals. Besides, they offer lots of consultancy services, not to mention their many resourceful publications.
The AGS is more than 80 years old. And that long history reflects in their expertise in diamond grading. The association is continuously seeking to preserve the integrity of the diamond industry. No wonder most diamond buyers are now keen on trading with AGS-accredited dealers.