AGS Launches Expansion

The American Gem Society has launched a $4 million project-called the “Partnership for Excellence” capital campaign-to expand its Las Vegas, Nev., headquarters, services, laboratory, and staff. Groundbreaking will be in October, with completion set for March 2000 and a formal opening in June. AGS executive director Robert Bridel and AGS president Ellen Lacy unveiled the plans on July 31 before about 100 AGS members and industry leaders at New York City’s exclusive Cornell Club.

AGS is “on the threshold of a new era,” says Lacy, and this is “its most ambitious [fundraising] effort.” To meet growing demands for membership, educational, and laboratory services and to continue to build consumer awareness of AGS members, the organization needs “more space and staff [and] must expand again,” notes Bridel.

AGS will triple the size of its 6,000-square-foot headquarters. It will add 5,200 square feet (for new office space, classrooms, a gem instrument exhibit, and a reference library) to its center of operations, the Robert M. Shipley Building. It also will construct a 9,300-square-foot building (on an adjoining lot that AGS has purchased) for AGS Laboratories, which will lease the building from AGS.

A colonnade between the two buildings will create what Bridel calls “a campus setting.” Names of AGS benefactors will be inscribed in the colonnade area and on a large wall in the entry of the expanded Shipley Building.

As of July 31, $550,000 of the $4 million-about 14% of the total-had been donated. The first gift, $250,000 from Keppie Kiger Co., was presented to Bridel by company president Thomas Gorman, a past AGS president, on July 31 during the Jewelers of America show. Gorman called AGS “a vital asset” to the industry and said that since its founding in 1934, it had “continually raised the bar of professional ethics and standards and worked to establish consumer confidence in the industry.” He urged others in the industry to “give generously” and to “assist AGS in its efforts to better serve the consumer and the industry.”

The public phase of the capital campaign kicks off officially on Nov. 13 with the new “Circle of Distinction Dinner” at the Rainbow Room in New York City. Guest of honor is Alfred Woodill, the former long-time director of AGS and nephew of AGS founder Robert Shipley. The event will be held annually to recognize major AGS benefactors.

For more information about AGS’s expansion, capital campaign, or new lab services, call (702) 255-6500.