Gem-A History: 1908 - Present
Towards the end of the 19th century, the National Association of Goldsmiths (NAG) was created to represent the interests of jewellers for a new industrial age. This helped protect them from potential harm in the market place, and also allowed jewellers to educate each other about developments in their trade. In 1908 they decided that the role of the jewellery association was more than simply representation and information, and set-up the NAG Education Committee to establish gemmological qualifications for the UK jewellery trade.
In 1908, Samuel Barnett, a jeweller from Peterborough, proposed that the NAG set up teaching courses and examinations in the study of gemstones at the NAG’s annual conference. The resolution was adopted and started the action that, as Basil Anderson observed many years later, "marked the beginning of organised gemmology, not only in this country, but in the whole world."
The NAG inaugurated the Gemmological Association as a distinct branch of the NAG in 1931, as the study of gemmology grew in popularity. This gave the Gemmological Association independence in the provision of education, research and information, and also meant their diploma graduates could be elected to the Fellowship of the Gemmological Association.
Interest in gemstones and diamonds grew so much in the next 20 years that the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, as we've been known since 1937, began making connections with other Associations around the world who wanted to teach our renowned Gemmology Diploma. By 1947, although still sharing resources with the NAG, our growth allowed us to take more control of our own interests, which started with the release of the first ever The Journal of Gemmology.
Throughout the next 60 years we continued to nurture our links with other gemmological Associations, including the US and North America, Myanmar, China, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. As our international reach expanded, so did our need for internal growth. Breaking away from the NAG in the mid-90s, we formed relationships with the Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain before becoming a UK Education Charity and adopting the name Gem-A in the late 2000s.
Today, Gem-A continues to build upon the deeds of Samuel Barnett by offering a first-class education in gemmology, while our membership services, events and publications continue to serve a growing network of gem enthusiasts and jewellery professionals around the world. You can learn more about Gem-A's history on our history page.