On May 2, Susan M. Jacques, GIA president and CEO, received the American Gem Society’s (AGS) highest honor, the Robert M. Shipley Award, at its annual Conclave in Louisville, Ky.
The recipient of the award is kept secret until AGS’ annual luncheon, and Jacques seemed surprised and at times emotional upon receiving the award.
“To say I am floored is an understatement,” she said. “I am immensely grateful and truly honored by this extraordinary recognition and award.… I’m speechless truly.
“I cannot tell you how much joy this industry has brought to me. I have been blessed with more than 40 years of friendships and passion for what we do for a living. We help people celebrate the most extraordinary milestones in their lives. And we do it with the treasures of Mother Nature. It doesn’t get much better than that.”
She noted how she frequently describes jewelry as “the happiest industry I know of.”
“There are challenges,” she said. “But there are opportunities, there is optimism. Keep the hope. It’s a remarkable world we live in.”
She called GIA “an iconic institute in this amazing industry, and I’m honored and blessed to be bringing together 3,800 people to follow a very important mission, and that mission is to protect consumers. That’s what we do and why we exist, each and every day. And so every decision we make is always focused on how we increase the public trust in gems and jewelry.”
Jacques has been GIA’s president and CEO since January 2014. Before joining GIA, she was president of Borsheims, the Omaha, Neb.–based retail jeweler, where she began as a sales associate and appraiser. She joined the GIA Board of Governors in May 1996 and served as its chair from 2008 to 2013. She received her Graduate Gemologist diploma from GIA in 1980 and is a fellow of the Gemological Association of Great Britain.
She won the Women Jewelry Association’s Lifetime Achievement award in 2010 and the Jewelers Vigilance Committee’s Stanley Schechter Award in 2020.
Jacques is the sixth person from GIA to receive the Robert M. Shipley Award, which is named after the man who founded both AGS and GIA. It was presented to Jacques by former AGS CEO Ruth Batson McCluer, who won the award in 2016.
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