ISG -v- GIA Accreditation?

March 15, 2021


Over the past two weeks we have received several information requests asking if the ISG is an “accredited gemology school like the Gemological Institute of America (GIA)”. The inquirers are always astonished with my answer: “There is no such thing as accreditation for gemology schools”. Unlike dentists, lawyers, and insurance adjusters, there are no organizations with oversight authority over gemology schools, no legal standards, and no accrediting bodies. In fact, anyone can hang out a sign and become a jewelry appraiser and gemologist without ever stepping into a classroom. Foolhardy? Yes. Legal? Yes.

“So, what about the GIA claiming to be accredited?” is the next question, and what makes the International School of Gemology recognized?

Good questions on both counts. Let us look at these two questions:

GIA Accreditation

The GIA offers accreditations from two organizations. The on-site classroom courses through the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC), and distance education courses through the Distance Education Accrediting Commission (DEAC). Very official sounding organizations but not what they may seem. Neither are a government entity. Both are for-profit corporations. Neither actually test the GIA for quality of gemology course programs. So, these “accrediting bodies” have nothing to do with gemology, but rather check out the financial structure of the school, something the GIA can easily handle given their multi-million-dollar tax free revenue from doing grading reports. In fact, less than 10% of GIA revenues come from teaching gemology. More on that in another newsletter. For now, let us look at who shares these accreditations with the GIA to better understand the standing of holding such an accreditation.

Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges

Here are some of the schools that hold ACCSC Accreditation:

  • Academy of Massage & Bodywork
  • Acupuncture and Massage College
  • Advanced Welding Institute
  • College of Hair Design
  • Gemological Institute of America
  • Traxler’s School of Hair

I am sure that all of these are excellent schools that spent the required amount of money to get accredited by the ACCSC.

Distance Education Accrediting Commission

Now let us see who shares DEAC accreditation:

  • Hypnosis Motivation Institute
  • Gemological Institute of America
  • National Tax Training School
  • Modern Gun School

I think you get the point. The concept of “accreditation” regarding gemology schools is a nebulous concept. Yes, the GIA carries “accreditation” but what does that accreditation really mean. Let us turn that light on the International School of Gemology.

International School of Gemology

The roots of the ISG begin as an Allied Teaching Centre of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. After I left my time working at USAA, the largest insurer of United States Military and Department of Defense employees, what would become the ISG started as a state licensed Certified Continuing Education Provider. The purpose was developing certified jewelry related courses for renewal of insurance licenses for agents, underwriters, adjusters, and other insurance professionals. Along the way I received many requests to also offer these courses in a jewelry industry edition. This is what became the International School of Gemology Registered Gemologist Appraiser program.

To get certified by the Texas Department of Insurance requires that our courses be peer reviewed by 5 state licensed insurance professionals involved in jewelry insurance. The courses are then reviewed by the Texas Department of Insurance for certification. By reciprocity agreement, other states have also certified our courses after review of the ISG as a provider and our course programs.


The bottom line is that there are no education accrediting bodies that offer formal accreditation to gemology schools. While I know the GIA pays huge sums to maintain the accreditations listed above (which they can easily afford) the fact remains that none of the “accreditations” that the GIA offers have anything to do with the gemology as a science or study. I know, I once investigated the DEAC accreditation and it was obviously an awfully expensive way to offer fancy credentials, but really had nothing to do with the quality of gemology program.

As a Property and Casualty Insurance Adjuster of the Texas Department of Insurance (#1300433) I am required to renew that license every two years with continuing education and testing. By reciprocity, my license is accepted in most of the other United States. I am also a certified Insurance Education Provider and Instructor. And our courses have been certified by various state insurance offices over the years, for quality and content, not just how much money we make.

With the GIA holding close to a $300 million dollar revenue stream that can buy them all sorts of advertising and promotion, the one thing it cannot buy them is any formal and legal accreditation in gemology. The same applies to the ISG with our average $200 thousand dollar revenue stream. In that matter we are equal, well sort of. No such accreditation exists.

But regarding state licensed peer review and certification of our course programs, the ISG stands far above the GIA.

We still operate in the shadow of the GIA, but it is a shadow cast by money, not quality of programs.

Robert James FGA, GG

President, International School of Gemology

Global Claims Associates

Property and Casualty Adjuster, Texas Department of Insurance

Member: National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters

We invite you to join us in the rewarding and fun study of gemology and jewelry appraisal with the International School of Gemology. Click the ISG logo below to visit our website and learn more.

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