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The American Gem Society

by Beau Davis, CSA Shelton Jewelers – ABQ, NM
What it is all about
A diamond is the world’s most precious gemstone. Between their unique optic qualities and sheer hardness, these little beauties, though miniscule, have become a valuable part of civilization today. But how do you know that you, as a consumer or buyer of diamonds, are getting what you’re paying for? With such small sizes and high values, there can be much ambiguity and misinformation throughout anyone’s shopping experience. These are some of the primary issues the American Gem Society works tirelessly to prevent.

How the AGS was formed and why

In the 1920’s Robert M. Shipley had put together a group of qualified jewelers to work together as a team to better the buying experience for their customers. They would use their tools of good ethics and their training and education to help reduce the misinformation and subsequent deceptions in the jewelry industry. However, one day, Mr. Shipley realized he had been wrong on a number of critical topics.

With this new insight, Mr. Shipley travelled abroad and received the best education for the industry in that period of time. Upon returning to the states in 1929, he went right to work in founding the Gemological Institute of America, which is now known as one of the best educational institutes in the world for gemology. However education simply was not enough. Robert Shipley wanted to extend that knowledge to his own clients rather than just his staff. So in 1934, The American Gem Society was founded, designed to protect anyone buying diamonds or jewelry from being deceived or misinformed.

AGS ideals and ethics
Since its creation, the AGS has epitomized consumer education and protection throughout the diamond and jewelry industry. Both jewelry and diamond vendors and jewelry retail stores and outlets may become members of the AGS by continually following the AGS code of ethics- the highest standards in the industry. In fact, in order to remain an AGS member, the titleholders of any store or vendor must undergo a recertification process every single year. This way all AGS members are kept fully up to date on everything jewelry.
AGS Laboratories

The American Gem Society Laboratories are the other side of the AGS mission. AGSL is committed to providing certificates, or grading reports, for diamonds. Anyone shopping for a diamond has heard of the 4-C’s of a diamond, carat weight, cut, color, and clarity. Of these 4 grades, only the carat weight had been 100% objective until AGSL created a new method of measuring the grade of the cut of the diamond for the Round Brilliant Shape, thus making 2 of the 4 C’s impartial to comparisons or opinions.
The Remaining 2 C’s, the color and clarity, still remain subjective to comparative analysis, however, the grading specialists at AGSL are devoted to providing the most accurate diamond grading available, and sticking to the AGS ethics will grade a diamond down to a +/- one grade tolerance. Overall, there is no grading report or certificate that will be more accurate or precise as a report issued by the American Gem Society Laboratories.
Now, what does all of this mean for you?
First off, members of the American Gem Society are dedicated to the highest standards in their business and educational practices, so you, as the consumer may feel just as comfortable with the purchase, as they are with the sale.
Secondly, when working with any AGS members, you will be offered any and all available information about what you are buying. Above and beyond is an understatement for the knowledge within the walls of an American Gem Society store.
And lastly, the grading reports issued by AGSL are among the most trusted and reliable certificates throughout the diamond industry. These grading reports will reference the qualities of the diamond, allowing your AGS member gemologist to provide you the most exact value. This is a major detail of any diamond purchase, because it will prevent any sort of under or over payment for the diamond in question. All in all, the American Gem Society is here, not for the retailers, but for you, the consumers, the shoppers, anyone interested in buying a diamond really, and they are truly committed to their ethics and ideals.