AIGR, Inc. or the American Institute of Gemological Research, is an independent gemological laboratory founded by Warren D. Pressler in February of 1979. Warren graduated from the world-renowned Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in 1976 and has been in the gem and jewelry industry since 1974. AIGR was first incorporated in the state of California under the name North American Gemological Exchange. Later we amended its name to American Institute of Gemological Research, Inc., which better describes the company’s endeavor of testing and identifying all gemstones and jewelry, and assigning a value for insurance companies, municipalities, and jewelers as well as private individuals. We later incorporated in Colorado.
AIGR has traveled to different stores all over the United States for years, including Zales, Jared the Galleria of Jewelry, Helzberg, Fred Meyer, Baily Banks & Biddle, and many different big box stores and independent jewelry stores doing diamond appraisals, wedding ring appraisals, and gem identifications. We originally did photography with a commercial grade polaroid camera and examined gemstones with a GIA Maxilab portable laboratory. We were able to learn the trade and learn values. We quickly learned about our methodology and developed reliable repeatability in doing appraisals and well as standards of trade practice at the time. We worked hard to develop a color communication system for colored stones. No one in the 1980’s had a standardized scientific system. We spent a lot of time and money researching spectrophotometers, light absorption per unit volume, but time and research dollars were limited. GIA and EGL Los Angeles were the two main diamond and gemstone laboratories at the time.
When we first started doing appraisals, there were no laptopcomputers ,so we wrote everything down on worksheets and typed up the reports later. I remember when we acquired our first desktop computer, an 8K “PET,” one of the firstof its kind available. We hired a programmer in BASIC computer programming language to create one of the first diamond databases in the United States. No one on the west coast had even heard of Martin Rapaport until a few years later. We remember hearing about this guy who dared to standardize wholesale diamonds prices, which went on to change the industry. We heard that Martin was receiving death threats and other heavy persecution from the industry, but he went forward with it and became one of the most iconic men in the diamond industry. This new information was valuable to us, even though it was closer to retail pricing than wholesale at its inception. Now it’s the largest diamond database in the world.
AIGR was one of the first to introduce GemPrint to the public with its ability to fingerprint a diamond with its scintillation pattern, which was backed by a former FBI director J. Edgar Hoover. Micrography, the photography of gemstones through a microscope, was offered by AAIGR in the mid 1980s. Later we added digital analysis OGItech(laser imaging), and we are constantly upgrading hardware and software. We are now able to provide reports on diamonds that include more information than the standard GIA report using much of the same software and hardware. Our major problem now is marketing our product without outside funding. We provide a report which is vastly superior to the average jewelry store appraisal written by a clerk or salesperson, who frequently has little or no formal training. Some stores such as those registered with AGS (American Gem Society) that do a good job, but you often have to drop the gems or jewelry off for two weeks or more and they will get to it when they find the time. Most jewelers handle appraisals like a repair.It’s easy for a jeweler to create a pretty looking appraisal, but how does the recipient judge methodology? A jeweler is not handing you an independent opinion. You cannot buy and sell jewelry and gemstones and call yourself an independent appraiser, according to the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, of which we are a member.
We consider ourselves at AIGR to be a consumer advocate group with 45 years of experience of writing appraisals for insurance companies, jewelers, the FBI, and other civil entities. AIGR has been a professional witness in court handling disputes, and we bring extensive experience to the table withour a huge amount of data and proven technology in dealing with watch appraisals, pearl appraisals, wedding ring appraisals as well as other various jewelry items.