The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA), chose Maurice Shire to receive the inaugural Leon Ritzler Memorial Honorary Membership Award. Shire was honored at the AGTA Dinner Dance and Awards Gala on Feb. 8, 2003, in Tucson, Ariz.
The award recognizes industry professionals, selected by the AGTA board of directors, who have made a meaningful contribution to the growth and/or improvement of the natural colored gemstone industry.
“Maurice Shire has earned the respect and admiration of our members because of his integrity, his passion, and his involvement in our industry,” says Doug Hucker, executive director of AGTA.
A knight in the National Order of the French Legion of Honor, past president of AGTA, founding member of the International Colored Gemstone Association (ICA), and member of the Hall of Fame for the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA) are among Shire’s accomplishments. Born into a family of established jewelers in 1923, he was educated in France at Ecole de Travail. After escaping Paris just days before the Nazis occupied the city, he returned to the United States at age 12 to work for Harry Winston. When the war ended, Shire worked for six years as an assistant buyer and jewelry appraiser at Van Cleef & Arpels before venturing out on his own and founding Maurice Shire Inc.