History of the International School of Gemology


Robert James

The Growth and Development of the International School of Gemology

Word of the availability of affordable training for gemologists and jewelry appraisers with the International School of Gemology quickly spread and students began streaming into the registration section of the ISG website. Robert James developed a unique format for distance education that was well ahead of the major schools as he utilized the course delivery format of the insurance education industry to deliver courses in all phases of gemology and jewelry appraisal. By adapting the online delivery system of the Internet, and coupling this with DVD video lectures sent to students to accompany the course notes, the ISG achieved what no other gemology school had done...compete with the Gemological Institute of America for market share.

The ISG offered two important features missing from the GIA or any other recognized gemology school at the time:

  1. Required a 2 year re-certification of the ISG title
  2. Offered courses in areas previously left out of other schools programs.

The ISG was (and is) the only jewelry appraisal school established by licensed insurance professionals, and recognized by the insurance industry. The ISG is the only recognized gemology and appraisal school that is a certified Education Provider by the insurance industry, and that offers Insurance Certified Instructors.

Beyond the ISG insurance standing, they also offered courses that no other gemology school had previously offered. These include:

  • Introduction to Watches
  • Identification of Synthetic Gemstones
  • Jewelry Insurance Appraisal
  • Evaluating Damaged Jewelry

This marked the first time that a gemology school had expanded the educational opportunities for students to experience a complete array of courses that would prepare them for performing insurance qualified jewelry appraisals.

The unique experience of learning with the International School of Gemology became very popular as the ISG Community sprang up from the student body of graduates. With an average age of 48, the ISG student body was composed mainly of people looking for a second career, jewelry industry professionals seeking quality education at a lower cost than available from the GIA, and retirees who had always wanted to study gemstones but did not wish to pay the high costs that was prevalent in the industry.

The ISG started holding the Tour of Tucson events where new students and graduates meet and share knowledge, and experience all of the wonderful shows in Tucson every February. This has become an annual event attended by ISG Community members from around the world.

The ISG also sponsors mine trips where the ISG Community members can meet at mine locations and get first hand experience in gemstone mining. This has also become an annual event with mine trips from coast to coast in the US. At left is one of the "Rush to Plush" group trips that feature the Oregon Sunstone mines of Plush Oregon.

All of these activities are provided free of charge to the ISG Community by Robert James and the International School of Gemology office.

At the Tour of Tucson events there are special presentations from some of the world's finest gemstone dealers from far-away places. At left is the ISG Community group attending a special showing by world renowned gemstone dealer, David Stanley Epstein, author of the book: The Gem Merchant and world famous expert on all types of Brazilian gemstones.

Each year at the Tucson Gem Shows the ISG Community joins for a fun week of sharing and learning from the top experts in the field of gemstones from around the world.

The research of gemstone treatments brought the International School of Gemology into the industry limelight in 2008 when they exposed a multi-million dollar fraud of Tibet andesine. This diffusion treated stone was the result of yellow feldspar from Mexico being taken to China where it was artificially colored red by the infusion of copper. The result was a gemstone that looked like the rare Oregon Sunstone, and was subsequently sold on the market as a rival to the Oregon Sunstone but at a much lower price. The damage of this situation to the true Oregon Sunstone miners was immense. It was only through the efforts of the ISG Community that the fraud was exposed. The ISG spent four years in litigation over the issue but in 2012 finally prevailed when the California Supreme Court ruled in the ISG favor regarding claims of the fraud.

To this day the ISG is subject to Internet attacks by those who perpetrated this fraud, to the point of this group establishing a website known as a "cyberbullly" attack, simply because the ISG Community exposed their fraud and stopped their abuse of consumers.

Today the ISG is recognized as the premier distance education school for gemology and jewelry appraisal with students and graduates in 56 countries world-wide. The ISG Registered Gemologist Appraiser diploma is recognized and accepted by the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, and the ISG is one of only a very small number of Accredited Businesses with an A+ Rating by the Better Business Bureau. The ISG provides world-class distance education in gemology and jewelry appraisal at a fraction of the cost of the major schools, that offer smaller programs that do not include appraisal as part of their curriculum. The ISG is operated from a location in Helotes, Texas just west of San Antonio where it shares space with the Amazing Gem and Mineral Museum, an educational experience for kids established as part of the ISG Community. You are invited to visit if you are in the South Texas area. Click the link below to visit the ISG and learn about their unique educational programs that are affordable for all.

Click here to visit the International School of Gemology

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