In the ever-captivating world of colored gemstones, ethics and transparency stand as the twin pillars upon which the industry’s reputation is built. For more than four decades, the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has upheld these ideals.
Founded in 1981, AGTA has pioneered transformative change within the gemstone industry. With an unwavering commitment to uncompromising standards, AGTA’s legacy is one of enlightenment, advocacy and ethical excellence.
Looking back to 2008, AGTA and the Tanzanite Foundation established a flood relief fund with the aim of raising money to assist those impacted by a recent catastrophe in the tanzanite-producing Merelani region of Tanzania.
In 2010, a pivotal alliance between AGTA, the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA) and the World Jewellery Confederation (CIBJO) transpired, leading to their alignment on disclosure codes. AGTA subsequently granted licensing rights to CIBJO for the harmonization of these codes and the standardization of industry practices.
Once again, AGTA demonstrated its commitment to setting the ethical benchmark within our sector.
The year 2014 brought a collaborative effort between AGTA and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC) to address compliance with the Dodd-Frank Act, encompassing both the new regulations and the guidelines published by the JVC. AGTA, recognizing the significance of legal compliance, embarked on a substantial advocacy campaign, ensuring its members’ awareness and ability to meet these obligations.
During the same year, AGTA took another momentous step by developing new bylaws, further cementing its commitment to evolving and adapting to industry needs.
In 2015, AGTA introduced an enhanced Code of Ethics, featuring a notable addition in Section 7C, mandating strict compliance with all laws and regulations within the United States and wherever business operations are conducted.
AGTA, through decades of commitment to ethical conduct, has indelibly shaped the gemstone industry, ushering in an era of transparency and responsibility.
The following year saw AGTA’s substantial investment of more than $25,000 in its silicosis abatement project, a clear demonstration of its dedication to health and safety standards within the industry.
In the same year, AGTA contributed $10,000 to the Diamond Council of America (DCA), fortifying the Industry Education Fund. AGTA’s donation was instrumental in securing a matching contribution, effectively doubling the impact of its support.
Furthermore, 2016 witnessed the ICA adopting AGTA’s bylaws as their template, along with the use of AGTA’s Code of Ethics, both with the approval of AGTA’s board of directors, fostering positive developments for the international gemstone sector.
Also in 2016, AGTA actively engaged in a Myanmar-sanctions white paper study, allocating $150,000 to the initiative. AGTA presented a comprehensive paper to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Congress, contributing to the ongoing dialogue surrounding ethical standards and international sanctions. Concurrently, AGTA presented new OECD standards to the Myanmar government, aiding in the education of local authorities regarding ethical principles and changes since the imposition of sanctions.
In 2017, AGTA exemplified its commitment to humanitarian causes by raising funds for the victims of the Sri Lanka floods. Following solicitations for donations during the Las Vegas GemFair, AGTA was able to donate a substantial sum, providing at least $20,000 in aid to the Ratnapura community.
Then, in 2020, AGTA established the Educational Fund in honor of gemstone dealer Richard Greenwood, further solidifying its commitment to fostering knowledge and education within the gem and jewelry industry.
Fast forward to 2023, when AGTA forged an extraordinary collaboration with the Colorado School of Mines, embarking on an extensive multi-year research project that delves into the intricacies of colored-gemstone supply chains and best practices.
AGTA’s commitment to education transcends its core activities. The association has graciously hosted local school children at its Tucson show, offering them an invaluable opportunity to explore the exquisite world of gemstones, thereby sowing the seeds of passion and knowledge.
In addition to this remarkable legacy, AGTA boasts stringent membership criteria, requiring a five-year industry tenure and three firm member recommendations. This rigorous vetting process helps ensure there are no transient or unscrupulous entities within AGTA’s ranks. To be elected to the AGTA board, members must be in good standing for at least two years.
Over 40 years of existence, AGTA has seen more than 200 firm members serving on its board, fostering a comprehensive understanding of the industry.
AGTA, through decades of commitment to ethical conduct, has indelibly shaped the gemstone industry, ushering in an era of transparency, excellence and responsibility. AGTA remains a beacon of integrity and enlightenment, guiding the industry toward a bright future.
Main image: In 2017, AGTA exemplified its commitment to humanitarian causes by raising funds for the victims of the Sri Lanka floods. (Shutterstock)
This article is from the January-February 2024 issue of Rapaport Magazine. View other articles here.