How did you become interested in gemology field?

My senior year in high school I got a job at a “mass market”, low end jewelry store. It was there that I learned all about diamonds that mostly looked like they belonged on the end of a drill bit rather than a four-prong head; or as I so affectionately call them "frozen snot diamonds".   I worked with the company two years and remember telling the district manager one day that I wanted to become a Gemologist and go to the Gemological Institute of America in New York City; he said “We don’t have gemologist at this company because all they do is confuse our customers about our merchandise!”  I remember thinking how horrible that statement was and in that moment I realized that if I wanted to make gems and jewelry a life long career I needed to become educated in the field so I could help educate people about what they were purchasing and wearing.

What is the biggest misconception about jewelry appraisers?    

Like most people I thought that once graduated from GIA that I would know how to "appraise and value gems and jewelry".  The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is arguably the most respected and well known school of gemology in the world; but that’s exactly what they teach… Gemology- the science and study of identifying gemstones and diamonds.  Never once, did GIA ever teach us about how to value a piece of jewelry or any stone.  The biggest miss conception about “Jewelry Appraisers” is that any gemologist can produce a quality appraisal with no continuing education or appraisal training.  The field of gemology is constantly changing; new synthetics and treatments of gemstones are emerging from all over.  It is the gemologist responsibility to keep up with the latest disclosures of gemstones and the only way to do that is to stay educated.  I make it a priority to take continuing education every year.

What makes the associations you belong to the best in the field?

The professional associations that I currently hold membership with are specialized in the gemology and gems and jewelry appraising field.   The National Association of Jewelry Appraisers is the only appraisal organization that devotes itself solely to the appraisals of gems and jewelry.  Currently I hold the Certified Senior Member title which requires examination on appraisal theory and methodology and an report writing exam on the appraisers writing, grading and valuing skills under the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers minimum report writing standards.  I have also completed and passed the 15 hour Uniform Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice (USPAP for Personal Property – Gems and Jewelry) exam with the American Society of Appraisers. 

What is the most interesting/rewarding aspect of being a gemologist?

The most interesting thing about what I do is the people I get to meet and places I get to go.  I get to talk to people from all over the country and when attending the national conferences I get to meet people from all over the world.  My colleges always have something to teach me and I am happy to listen and learn from them.  This is a business of education for education and that is what is so rewarding to me.  I take all the things I have learned and help the public, weather it is to identify a gemstone or help them pick the best diamond for the price.  Sometimes all people want is my to help teach them about gemology so they can be educated and make informed buying decisions.  I want to be an advocate for people, someone people can feel comfortable getting reliable information from. 

What attracted you most to the gems and jewelry profession?

I admit I am a gem geek and I just wanted to learn more about gemstones; that turned into how to identify them and that turned in to how to value them.  Going to GIA was the best start I ever could have made in my career.  After graduating GIA I moved to Albuquerque New Mexico where I had the pleasure to work at a jewelry store with five other gemologists, two of which are Master Gemologist Appraisers (ASA). They taught me the importance of education and instilled in me the drive to want to push forward and always strive to be the best at what I do.  I only get to see them now at the trade shows and conferences but every time I do they just remind me so much of what’s important and I know I’m doing the right thing. 

What would you say makes your business different or unique from other appraisal services in the area?

I am an Independent Gems and Jewelry Appraiser with the ability to travel to a secure location for the assignment so that the client never has to be without their jewelry or travel too far.  I have met with clients at not only at their favorite jewelry store but other secure locations such as a bank, local insurance agent’s office or even their home.  Getting an appraisal should be more convenient and fun for the customer and if the they want any education about their jewelry while I inspect it, I’m obliged to do that as well. I want people to love their jewelry and know exactly what they have so that no matter where they go they can always identify it and feel confident wearing it.   

Do you offer any other services besides appraisal?

I do not professionally sell or buy jewelry!  I help clients make informed buying, selling or insuring decisions to best fit their needs.   I not only appraise I consult, advice, broker, identify and above all educate!

Appraisal and Gemological Services of Central Virginia

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