Robert M. Shipley Sr.: JCK’s Person of the Century

How do you pick the jewelry industry’s most important person of the century? With so many candidates to choose from, how do you narrow the focus to just one? Try subtraction. Think about all the movers and shakers this industry has seen over the past 100 years, then ask: Whose contributions would represent the greatest loss if they were erased? From that perspective, the choice is easy. The one person who transformed the industry and set its course this century was Robert M. Shipley Sr. What he did—aided by his remarkable wife, Beatrice, and son Robert Jr.—continues to affect the way every jeweler and gem dealer does business. Consider his accomplishments: He introduced gemological training to the United States and established the first gemological school, the first research laboratory, and the first professional gemology journal in North America. He pioneered the creation an
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