When it comes to the importance of shopping with an AGS-credentialed jeweler, no one is more perfectly positioned to talk about the subject than Alethea Inns, CGA and the Director of Education for AGS. Alethea has been with AGS and AGS Laboratories for 3 years and knew she wanted to be a gemologist after getting her degree in Geology. She is responsible for the gemological standards of the American Gem Society, and oversees the planning and execution of the credentialing programs for AGS Titleholders. She works closely with AGS Laboratories and their diamond grading procedures and R&D team. We sat down with Alethea for an in-depth interview on the importance of finding and shopping with an AGS-credentialed jeweler.
What is the number one reason everyone shopping for jewelry, should seek out an AGS credentialed jeweler?
AGS jewelers are the only jewelers in the industry that are required to uphold very specific standards for their ethics, business conduct, continuing education, and commitment to you, the consumer. The American Gem Society is the only non-profit association for retail jewelers founded on the principles of consumer protection. Jewelers that have been granted membership to the American Gem Society are required to abide by standards for ethics, customer service, and professional development. They are also subject to a Grievance & Review committee if they don’t live up to those standards, so corrective action can be taken, always with the customer first and foremost in mind. Anyone shopping for jewelry with an AGS jeweler will have the peace of mind that their jeweler is truly committed to them.
What are AGS Titleholders, and what is the significance behind those titles?
Titleholders are individuals that work for AGS jewelers that hold specific titles based on their experience and commitment to ongoing education. Much like a Board Certified surgeon has passed additional requirements specific to their practice outside their basic education, an AGS Titleholder has also proven their ability to further their professionalism beyond their initial gemological education. All AGS Titleholders are required to start with education from the Gemological Institute of America or the Gemological Association of Great Britain. Once their education has been verified, they are required to complete additional testing and fulfill additional years of experience before they can achieve their AGS credentials, known as Titles. Always ask your jeweler if they have a Registered Jeweler, Certified Gemologist, or Certified Gemologist Appraiser on staff. If you are seeking out expertise in appraisals, AGS Independent Certified Gemologist Appraisers (or ICGAs) have extensive credentials – so much so that there are currently only 20 in the world! AGS Titleholders are required to take an annual recertification exam every year to ensure they keep up with current standards and business practices. We also strongly encourage all AGS titleholders to attend our annual educational event (called Conclave) where they can upgrade their skills. An individual with an AGS title is a true professional.
When purchasing your first diamond, what are important questions to ask?
The most important question to ask is “what kind of report does it have?”
Ideally, you are looking for a diamond with an AGS Laboratories report.
There are a number of diamond grading laboratories worldwide, but each has different standards and missions. The American Gem Society has a laboratory that is the only diamond grading laboratory focused and founded on consumer protection. This sets AGS Laboratories apart from the other diamond grading labs. While not as prevalent as other diamond grading laboratory reports that you may be more familiar with, AGS Laboratories reports are recognized by both retailers and manufacturers for accurate, consistent grading reports based on science. Also, AGS Laboratories is the only diamond grading laboratory to have developed an in-depth 3-dimensional analysis of how the diamond returns light to the eye, and ultimately how beautiful it will appear. Based on the accuracy, comprehensive analysis, and mission of AGS Labs, if I ever buy my first diamond, I would insist that it’s graded by AGS Laboratories.
Don’t be afraid to ask your AGS jeweler anything. Every person that is about to buy a diamond will have a different set of questions. Don’t be afraid to ask: Who graded it? Why is it graded this way? How does this diamond differ than others I have looked at? AGS jewelers are qualified to field any and all questions you have to ensure you are educated and comfortable with your purchase. There are no stupid questions – buying a diamond is a significant event in your life, no matter the occasion, and AGS jewelers are there to help you celebrate those moments. You can rely on their expertise.
Aside from shopping with a credentialed jeweler, what other diamond buying advice do you have?
Do your research. There is a lot of great diamond buying advice out there, and there is a lot of not-so-great advice out there. It can be overwhelming, but again, shopping with a credentialed jeweler can help sort through a lot of it. Ask the questions, and remember that AGS is also a resource if you have any concerns. Our website, at AGS.org, is a wealth of information and practical advice. Trust your instincts, and like any purchase, if the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is. Reputable jewelers are happy to answer your questions honestly.
What other pieces of advice do you have for anyone interested in purchasing their first piece of fine jewelry?
When you make the final decision to buy a piece, buy something you love, and something that will have meaning to you. Work with a credentialed jeweler that you trust, so you can rest assured that what you have purchased is represented fairly, your jeweler conducts business ethically, and they are committed to their ongoing professional development. Remember, jewelers are in the business of celebrating life moments, and they are fulfilled when a customer walks away happy with a moment they will remember for years to come.