Authenticated preowned luxury retailer The RealReal announced yesterday that it will partner with the University of Arizona to create an endowed chair in gemology that supports the creation of a new gemology doctorate degree program.
Michael Groffenberger, managing director for The RealReal’s luxury consignment offices, told JCK last year that the two fastest-growing categories for the site are preowned fine jewelry and luxury watches.
And the brand continues to roll out valuation offices, where potential jewelry and watch sellers can meet with gemologists and product experts, in major U.S. cities. (The RealReal’s growth into the categories hasn’t been without hiccups—in December it was hit by a proposed class-action suit after selling a cocktail ring that allegedly overstated its weight.)
So the move to cocreate a gemology degree program—one that allows the brand to cultivate a homegrown stable of gem experts and, in effect, erect a home base for its gem-based business—makes perfect sense.
Specifically, the endowment will help fund a Tucson-based undergraduate program and graduate programs for master’s and PhD students “emphasizing gemological research and skills,” according to a company statement.
Gem-A (Gemological Association of Great Britain) is also partnering with the university and The RealReal to allow students in the program to obtain their individual gemology certification.
“For The RealReal, these advancements will also provide its gemologists, buyers, collectors, and potential sellers with elevated knowledge and information,” reads the statement. “Students will learn on campus and in state-of-the-art labs located in the University of Arizona’s new Gem and Mineral Museum in downtown Tucson.”
The RealReal CEO Julie Wainwright said in the same statement, “As the market leader in the jewelry resale market, we have always invested heavily in gemologists, research, and technology. Collaborating with University of Arizona on this new degree program will enhance our efforts and the entire industry.”