Originally Published: September 8, 2018 7:03 p.m.
Prescott jewelry store owner Jim Lamerson is a jeweler’s jeweler — and he’s got the paperwork to prove it.
Lamerson is one of only seven jewelers in Arizona to be recognized as a certified gemologist and appraiser by the American Gem Society (AGS), a prestigious designation for which he was just awarded a 38th-straight recertification.
The AGS recertification came late last month after Lamerson passed a rigorous exam demonstrating both his current knowledge of the industry as well as his ongoing commitment to upholding the consumer protection standards championed by the AGS, a national, nonprofit trade organization dedicated to promoting the highest standard of jewelry industry ethics.
In recognizing Lamerson’s nearly four continuous decades of certification, John Carter, president of the AGS board of directors, said, “The foundation that the American Gem Society stands upon is comprised of our educational programs and credentials. It’s the way we differentiate our members from the rest of the trade and completing the (recertification) process is no small task.”
Lamerson was born in Riverside, California, and spent much of his childhood on military bases in Europe. “My dad was in the service and I wanted to join too,” he said.
But health issues prevented him from being inducted and he eventually settled in Prescott, earning a graduate degree from the Gemological Institute of America in 1980 and opening Lamerson’s Jewelry on Cortez Street in downtown Prescott in 1992.
When he first started out in the business in the 1970s working for another local jeweler, Lamerson said terms like “blood diamond” and “conflict material” had yet to be coined.
“When I came into this industry, it was a very different world,” Lamerson said. “You didn’t have things like synthetic, lab-grown diamonds or all of the geopolitical issues and pressures we face today.”
In 2018, Lamerson said, jewelers must be cognizant of and deal with a myriad of “increasingly complex challenges” that continue to evolve and change very rapidly.
As part of his preparation for the AGS recertification exam, which he took online over a three-day period, Lamerson said he had to bring himself up to speed on a wide-range of new issues impacting the industry.
“There’s all kinds of doping of materials going on right now and we have to stay apprised of all of that stuff,” he said. “There are mining issues, human rights issues, changes with rules and restrictions regarding so-called ‘conflict material’ like Burmese rubies and jade,” which he said are still banned by the U.S. government from being imported into the country.
In order to gain recertification from the AGS, Lamerson said, “You need to absorb all of this new information and see how it’s applicable. There’s so much you have to keep current on.”
Lamerson has plenty of experience keeping up with current events. The energetic 67-year-old also happens to be a four-term Prescott city councilman.
“And I plan on seeking a fifth term,” he said.
With only 346 AGS-certified gemologist appraisers operating in the United States today, Lamerson is clearly proud of his most recent accomplishment.
“This is a pretty big deal for folks in our industry,” he said.