History of the ISG

Introducing the International School of Gemology

I want to take this opportunity to introduce the ISG to all of you who may not know our story. Who we are. What we do. Why we are here. Please allow me to introduce you to the International School of Gemology.

First, effective February 2, 2017 the ISG has formally become a 501(c)3 Non-Profit, Tax Exempt Education organization under US IRC Section 170. I am very pleased to announce this new structure as it will take the ISG forward with the specific purpose of providing quality education in a relaxed, non-profit structure. With that said, let’s look at the ISG…

We currently reside in a historical area of what we Texans call a “one horse town”: Helotes, Texas. Yes, in Spanish that means: “corn”. Why the town is named “Corn”? I have no clue. But the people are friendly, the pace is slow and the rent is cheap, which is the main reason we are here. You see, our primary objective is to offer quality gemology and appraisal education at a tuition price that more people can afford. To do that we need to maintain very strict overhead control. So no ocean front property or views here, only a view of Helotes Creek and a whole bunch of oak trees.


The conceptual foundation of the ISG was laid in 2000 when I maintained an Allied Teaching Centre on behalf of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, the Gem-A in current terms. During this time I had the honor to study under Ian Mercer, Gem-A Director of Education, and learned much about the need for a quality, low-cost education program in the U.S. for gemology and jewelry appraisal. The Gem-A did and still does have the finest gemology education program in the world, but there were certain draw-backs that prevented many people from being able to study with them and other schools. Specifically….money. The tuition cost of the major gemological institutes of America were (and are) so high that many, many people who are interested are precluded from the study by the extremely high tuition cost.That is where the concept of establishing the ISG was founded.

In addition to operating an ATC for the Gem-A, I was also working at USAA (the 4th largest insurance company in the US and main insurer of the US Military). I earned, and continue to hold, a Property and Casualty Insurance Adjuster License (seen at left) that by reciprocity agreement is accepted in 32 US states outside of Texas. I currently specialize in high value insurance investigations (SIU) working both in the US and Europe.

After leaving USAA I formally established our company: YourGemologist LLC, which does business as International School of Gemology, among other names. My first insurance license Continuing Education program began with writing courses in gemology and jewelry appraisal that, to this day, must be peer reviewed by licensed insurance professionals directly involved in jewelry insurance, then reviewed and certified by the Texas Department of Insurance. By reciprocity these are also recognized by other US States.

By law, our ISG courses must be reviewed and re-certified every two years by the Texas Department of Insurance Licensing Division, as does my P&C Adjuster License. At left you see the current certification letter from the TDI regarding our ISG Created and Treated Gemstones Course.

While the ISG courses are offered primarily through internet study, I have taught in a variety of classroom settings. Below left, I am teaching an Insurance CE class to adjusters from the Lloyds of London office in Dallas, Texas, while below right I am demonstrating the amazing properties of a large calcite crystal to the students at Steubing Elementary School in San Antonio. Below lower left is a class at the Tucson Gem Show, and below lower right our most recent Gemology Week class here at the ISG office.

In addition to education, this office is actively involved in the insurance adjusting industry. Working under the insurance trade name of “Jewelry Adjuster”, YourGemologist LLC was recently elected to membership of the National Association of Independent Insurance Adjusters, the nations oldest association of independent adjusters. This places us with the top 300 insurance adjusting firms in the

I have been asked to teach a 2 hour CE course: Evaluating Damaged Diamonds at the upcoming Southwest Regional Conference of the NAIIA later this Spring.

Beyond our insurance industry recognitions, we are also members of, or recognized by, the following industry leading organizations.

I am a firm believer in supporting the US Military. For over six years the ISG provided the informational DVD, Selvyt Cloth and 10x jewelers loupe you see at left, free of charge to any APO or FPO address in the operating areas of the US Central Command, Afghanistan. We provided thousands of these to soldiers of all branches, and were credited by the US Marine Corps with saving our soldiers from losing hundreds of thousands of dollars to bogus gemstone dealers in the bazaars around Bagram AB and the US Forward Operating Bases.

As recognition of our efforts the US Marine Corps flew Old Glory over Bagram AB and sent it to us with the plaque you see below left, along with another US Flag flown over FOB Findley Shields by the US Marines there who we worked with. Below right is a recognition certificate we received from the Wounded Warrior Project for our commitment to long term financial support of their efforts to assist our Wounded Warriors.

Regarding our programs…I will simply let you read for yourself at the links provided above. I invite you to review and consider these as quality, cost effective alternatives to the expensive programs of the gemological institutes of America and other places. I have worked very hard to keep them affordable, but the quality is the result of a lot of work by many of our ISG Global Community members. That credit needs to be shared by many people.

Thank you for allowing me to take you on this tour of the ISG. I hope it helps those new to our community to better understand where we are from, how we got here, and where we are going

Robert James FGA, GG
President, International School of Gemology