AGTA Takes a Stand for Authenticity


AGTA has committed to showcasing only natural gemstones at upcoming trade shows.

Posted on April 14, 2024

The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has been functioning since the last century. It’s dedicated to advocating for the interests of wholesale suppliers of natural gemstones, as well as cultured and natural pearls. In a recent press release, John W. Ford Sr., AGTA CEO, emphasized that the Board strives to adhere to the Association’s purposes. But how should we understand this? Let’s get some details.

AGTA GemFair Tucson is the annual international exhibition where colored stones and cultured pearls are presented. And from 2025, non-natural gemstones will be forbidden at the exhibition. The term “non-natural” covers synthetic and artificial gemstones, as well as those created in a lab. The Association’s dealers have always complied with excellent standards and mined premium and exceptional gems. And what is most important – natural gemstones. It’s worth noting that AGTA values customers who will be present at the show. To express respect to them, the Association decided that only extracted natural gems would be on display. Kimberly Collins, president of the AGTA board, made this clear in his speech.

But before introducing any amendments to the sales event rules, AGTA had to consider and recognize some terms, like gems, minerals, crystals, etc. There was no need to reinvent the wheel; other influential organizations had done everything. For example, the term synthetic gems is described by the GIA. In short, it is material made by people that is similar to natural gems in a combination of chemical composition, crystalline structure, appearance, and physical characteristics.

Let’s plunge deeper to discover why synthetic gems are not defined as minerals. To avoid misunderstandings, AGTA accepted two definitions of the term “mineral” suggested by geological authorities. As mentioned in the media release, the British Geological Survey gives the first definition. It says that the mineral is naturally derived and possesses distinctive chemical and physical features, composition, and atomic structure. The U.S. Geological Survey developed another one. The AGTA agrees with the explanation of a mineral as an inorganic element or compound that was formed naturally, having a well-ordered internal structure, crystal form, and certain physical characteristics.

At first sight, the explanations may seem identical, but the truth is that there is a significant difference. We may understand the critical point if we pay attention to the context where the word “natural” is used.” John Bradshaw of John J. Bradshaw and an AGTA Board Member interpreted to the public that gemstones are not recognized as minerals because they are not natural, while minerals are.

In the opinion of the heads of the AGTA Board, synthetic gemstones shouldn’t be compared to natural ones concerning worth and diversity of color. It is impossible to duplicate the color variability of mined and man-made gems.

The AGTA BOD is disturbed by the growing trend of artificial diamonds and their influence. To avoid any misinterpretations, the officials acted and expressed their position on manufactured gemstones. So, everyone who attends AGTA GemFairs shouldn’t worry – they purchase only natural gems. A reputation is essential and can’t be shattered. Besides, AGTA dealers are not prohibited from offering synthetic gemstones for sale outside the exhibition. However, the description must include the stone’s origin.

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