Eric Fritz, FGA, DGA is the manager of North America for Gem-A, the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, holding both colored stone and diamond designations. Eric has a degree in Zoology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. The Zoology degree leads to a passion for pearls and other organic gem materials, which are Eric's specialty. The studies concentrated on invertebrates which as a review include mollusks; shells and the organisms contained within. This is the source of pearls as we know them. As a youth, Eric collected shells on the seashore and noticed at an early age the ability for pearl formation as a free pearl or as a protrusion of the shell, what we now refer to as Mabe or blister pearls. An obsessive shell collection now resides beside the minerals and gemstones.
Gem-A is the oldest, over 100 years, and worldwide leader in gemmological training. As the oldest educational provider, innovation and current trends still guide the emphasis in staying up to date. Gem-A was also the first gem testing lab in the world, a call to action from differentiation of natural and cultured pearls. In recent years, Gem-A has made a major commitment in North America. We offer on line courses with onsite labs convenient to all students. Our mission is to advance the understanding of gemstones through education, membership and the encouragement of best practice.