AGTA Hobbles Dealers and Buyers


ISG Editorial: AGTA Hobbles Their Dealers…and Buyers!

Or….Pay for your membership and booth space; we’ll tell you what you can sell.

HobblingAHorseAGTA CEO John W. Ford recently sent out an interesting press release in which the AGTA Board of Directors announced that henceforth, the AGTA Gemfair trade shows would no longer permit sellers to display lab-created gemstones. Thereby hobbling the AGTA dealers regarding what they can sell. In this release, Ford goes to great lengths to invoke the GIA’s definition of “synthetic gems,” the British Geological Survey’s definition of a mineral, and the U.S. Geological Survey’s definition of a mineral, all in an effort to clarify for all readers that “minerals are natural, and synthetics are not.”

Two glaring contradictions exist in this noble-sounding crusade that the AGTA Board of Directors is embarking on with these new trade show rules.

  1. The AGTA Rules totally contradict themselves regarding the restrictions on selling lab-created gemstones. The fifth paragraph of Ford’s release states:

“It’s perfectly acceptable for AGTA dealers to sell synthetic gems if they choose…”

This creates chaos since AGTA dealers cannot sell those very same synthetic gems at the AGTA Gemfair trade shows. In other words, pay for your booth space, but we restrict what you can sell in your booth. And perhaps more importantly,

  1. Who is going to enforce this new rule? Who at the AGTA will go around and check the AGTA dealer displays to enforce this new rule? And what about hydrothermal amethyst and citrine? It is well known that 50% or more of the amethyst and citrine on the market are hydrothermally created and require advanced testing methods to separate them from earth-mined versions. Flux-melt emeralds. Lab-created opals. The list is long. How is AGTA going to police all of those? How will enforcement work?

Therefore, if it’s “acceptable for AGTA dealers to sell synthetic gems,” and this new show rule cannot enforce the rule of no synthetics at the show, what real guarantee do buyers have regarding lab-created gemstones at the AGTA Gemfair? Expected compliance? We all know how well that works.

However, there is one more very serious issue that all AGTA member dealers need to consider: Do you want your revenue streams controlled by the AGTA Board of Directors, who all appear to be anti-lab-created gemstones? Let’s face it: there is a huge and growing market for lab-created gemstones of all types. Big money and big profits are being made regardless of who likes or does not like it. If the AGTA says: “It’s perfectly acceptable for AGTA dealers to sell synthetic gems if they choose…”, then why do they want to hobble you at the very trade show that your membership fees and show fees pay to operate?

What gives John Ford, Kimberly Collins, and the AGTA Board of Directors the right to tell you what you can sell and what your customers can buy?

And…why send all those customers for lab-created gems to the other shows?

This press release of John Ford and the AGTA is very noble sounding. But explains why so many dealers are leaving the AGTA Gemfair and moving to GJX, JOGS, and other gem shows.

When a small handful of powerful people with their own political agenda try to dictate to everyone how they should do business, it is a recipe for disaster.

That is my opinion. I welcome you to send in yours.

Robert James FGA, GG
President, International School of Gemology

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