When a seller gives references that they are members of trade associations
such as JTB, GIA,etc. should this give the buyer any confidence in their
business? I find it difficult to appraise businesses that advertise on
the internet. I generally rely on making very small purchases to "test the
About the only thing that membership in most trade organizations means is
the person/company had the price of membership. There are some exceptions,
American Gem Trade Assoc (AGTA) members are required to reveal any
treatments done to stones they sell. AGS stores subscribe to a strict
code of ethics & one of the Appraisal associations have a very good program
for rating appraisers. There may be other jewelery trade orginazations that
have strict requirements, but these are the ones that quickly come to
There is also a relatively new testing and rating procedure for bench
jewelers. I don't know what all the levels are, but it starts out with
bench technician & ends several levels later with Master Jeweler.
Completion of the GIA's or Texas Institute of Jewelry's bench program
qualifies one for the 1st level. Suceeding levels are attained by passing
a practical bench exercise before a qualified judge.
Your technique of starting small with a new supplier is probably the best
way to go. There was a sign in a small resteraunt I used to frequent that
said, "Credit granted to those over 80, when accompanied by a
grand-parent." The cautiousness implied in that statement serves well in
new, long distance business relationships.