(TUCSON, Ariz.) – The American Gem Trade Association (AGTA) has awarded the prestigious Leon Ritzler Award to beloved industry fixture Shelly Sergent. The award is given to individuals who have made a meaningful contribution to the colored gemstone and natural and cultured pearl community and is named in honor of AGTA’s inaugural board president, Leon Ritzler.
“AGTA is proud to bestow this honor on our longtime friend, peer, and colored gemstone and cultured pearl champion,” says John W. Ford Sr., CEO of AGTA. “Shelly’s passion for celebrating the talents of others is well known in industry.”
Sergent has spent over 40 years in the jewelry industry. Starting at age 16 as a holiday season gift wrap associate for Zales, Sergent quickly realized her passion for fine gems, design, and first-class client services. She learned the business of the jewelry industry by climbing the ranks from a service and sales professional to manager and jewelry expert.
Today, Sergent serves as a curator of Somewhere In The Rainbow (SITR), a private collection of rare and fine gems and jewelry. SITR is a boutique-style educational service dedicated to teaching and preserving the rarity and beauty of Mother Nature’s extraordinary minerals and gemstones, and its mission is to bring hands-on education, understanding, and appreciation of fine colored gems and artisan-crafted jewelry to museums, retail stores, and educational facilities. Through this work, she has filled a void in gemstone education and awareness, advanced the colored gemstone industry, and supported a considerable number of AGTA members’ businesses.
“AGTA members have benefitted greatly from Shelly’s support and guidance,” says Kimberly Collins, AGTA board president and owner of Kimberly Collins Colored Gems. “We are so thrilled to recognize her this year with this honor.”
Sergent’s long-term philosophy has been to nurture and maintain relationships with clients and suppliers through instruction, inspiration, honesty, and transparency. Alongside these efforts, sales occur, though she understands that they aren’t always the pinnacle of her efforts. Her priority remains understanding individuals’ needs to bring about discernment and enjoyment of the intimate nature of the jewelry world.
Other industry service includes being a featured guest presenter on JTV and a keynote speaker and lecturer for numerous industry events. Extensive global travels have enabled Sergent to share her gem and jewelry passion with a wide audience of collectors, including museum attendees. In 2017, she was appointed to the board of the Alfie Norville Gem & Mineral Museum in Tucson, Ariz., and was integral to the museum’s expansion to highlight the importance of the science of gemology.
Even more impressive than her professional resume, however, is her deep love for family and friends. Known fondly by those closest to her as Gigi, Sergent spends her free time showering daughter Bri and granddaughter Jenova with endless love and a shared passion for all things sparkly.