My name is Robert James. When I established the International School of Gemology 20 years ago I broke the cardinal rule of the jewelry industry, established years previously by the Gemological Institute of America. That rule: The knowledge of gemology is a magical, mystical knowledge whose gatekeeper is the GIA. This was demonstrated to me in a true event while working at USAA Insurance when I published a listing of gemstone refractive indices. One of my co-workers, who was previously an instructor at the GIA, turned me in for an ethics violation because she truly believed the refractive index of gemstones was proprietary to the GIA. (totally true story).
Over the years I paid literally tens of thousands of dollars for gemology diplomas to earn the GIA Graduate Gemologist, Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A), and the Certified Gemologist of the American Gem Society. It was essentially the same knowledge, just presented in different formats with minor variations. All the same knowledge and all very, very expensive.
During my 50+ (Yikes!) years in this industry, I have witnessed so many bright, promising members of the industry who would greatly benefit from formal gemological training but could not afford the tens of thousands of dollars to partake of that magical, mystical knowledge.
So, I set out to do something about that.
In July 2000 I established an Allied Teaching Centre for the FGA program of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, and worked closely with Ian Mercer, who was at the time the Director of Education of the Gem-A. This was during my years working for USAA. I left USAA in late 2004 and took my Allied Teaching Centre independent and created the International School of Gemology. The purpose was clear and simple:
Offer world class education in gemology and jewelry appraisal, at a price that everyone in the industry could afford.
Of course, this did not sit well with any of the big expensive schools. We are, after all, teaching the magical, mystical knowledge at a small fraction of the price that the others charge. Our purpose is to support the small, home-town independent retail jeweler and not the big money portion of the industry. Our commitment to the hometown independent jewelers has come with a cost of industry support since we cannot afford expensive advertising.
But we are here to stay and continue to provide world-class gemology and jewelry appraisal education and graduate support, at the lowest possible tuition. This allows more people like us to take advantage of the knowledge of gemology.
I started out in this business as a janitor for Zale’s Jewelers in Denton, Texas over 50 years ago. I have spent many tens of thousands of dollars on education to get where I am today. I would like to provide others with the opportunity to advance, but not have to pay such a high cost to get there as I did.
In the end, gemology is truly a magical mystical knowledge that opens amazing career opportunities.
But it should not be so expensive.
If you or your staff would benefit from world-class gemology education but have problems affording it, have you considered the International School of Gemology?