A Short History of the Gemological Institute of America


Our manager, Sydney Strong, is currently finishing her graduate Gemologist degree at the Gemological Institute of America, a program that focuses on how to identify and grade precious stones. For our blog this week, we’re going to take a look at the history of the GIA and their role in the gemstone industry.

The GIA was founded by Robert M. Shipley in 1931, with the aim of providing correspondence based education to jewelers and gem dealers around the country. From this beginning, the GIA quickly began to establish itself as a central institution in the world of jewelry. From the publication of the magazine Gems and Gemology to the invention of the gemological microscope, which allowed for the examination of the interior of gems, the GIA contributed in numerous ways.

In the 1940s Richard T. Liddicoat joined GIA and published his Handbook of Gem Identification. His work became the foundation of many current grading systems including the International Diamond Grading System, which is still used today. As the GIA grew throughout the 80s and 90s, it attracted students from across the world who were looking for cutting edge industry knowledge. The GIA accepted students from as far as Japan and set up schools in Korea, India and across Europe.

Even recently, the GIA hasn’t slowed down. Robert Shipley was named person of the century by JCK Magazine, Gems and Gemology is now a full color quarterly and in 2007, they introduced a grading scale for synthetic diamonds. Innovation is business as usual for the GIA, who continue to lead the industry while simultaneously welcoming new students into their degree programs and attempting to place them in careers through annual job fairs.

Sydney came to the GIA through llyn strong fine art jewelry. She developed an interest in gemstones over time as she managed the store. One day Jim and Pat Alger, two gem dealers, suggested that a GIA program would be the best way to take her new interest in gemstones to the next level. So she did some research, consulted with her mom, and enrolled. Sydney’s curriculum now includes classes such as “Diamond Essentials,” “Pearl Grading,” and others targeting specific stones. She’s grateful for the opportunity to be in the program and to work with instructors from the world’s most well-known gemstone institution. She will be back in the store soon, putting her new expertise to work helping customers with their gemstone questions and needs.

For additional information on the GIA, check out their website below



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