Fireside Chat: Katherine Bodoh

The American Gem Society (AGS) was founded in 1934 by a small group of leading jewelers. Their goal was to create an organization that could help protect the jewelry-buying public from fraud and false advertising. Today, their vision has become a reality.

Approximately 3,400 jewelers, retailers, suppliers, individual titleholders and affiliates have joined the American Gem Society and have dedicated themselves to consumer protection, ethical business practices and development and maintenance of superior gemological skills and knowledge.

This week, we caught up with Katherine Bodoh, CEO of AGS and AGS Laboratories. Bodoh has always loved jewelry, and she began her career in the industry in 2004, before joining AGS as the Deputy Executive Director in 2015. Soon after, upon the retirement of former leader Ruth Batson, Bodoh took over as CEO in 2017.

See what she has to say about her most memorable JCK moments, what’s in store for AGS in the future, the conversations she believes will be most prominent at JCK Tucson 2019 and more.

Describe your day in numbers.
This is a great question and it has forced me to look at my average day. I have a nine-month old, so I am scheduled down to the minute. My personal life is devoted to spending time with my family, sleeping, chores, and a workout, if I am on track. The remainder of my day is devoted to the American Gem Society (AGS). Every day is different, but I usually spend 50% of my workday in meetings, including one-on-one meetings with my team; 25% of my day on AGS and AGS Laboratories strategic goals; and the other 25% of my day on run-the-business work. I would be lost without my Outlook calendar and I could use more than 24 hours in my day!

What is your background in the jewelry industry, how did you get your start?
I have always loved jewelry, so my admiration for the industry started very early in my life. In 2004, I started my career in the industry at the Manufacturing Jewelers and Suppliers of America (MJSA) in Providence, RI. It was a wonderful introduction to the industry and I fell in love with the jewelry community. I learned about the industry from the point of view of the suppliers and manufacturers and I value that tremendously. I was so fortunate to be part of the jewelry community in Rhode Island. I can’t think of a better time or place to start.

After my four years at MJSA, I was recruited to Jewelers Mutual Insurance Group (JM) where I held a variety of roles during my seven years. My time at JM allowed me the opportunity to see the industry from all angles. I had the chance to learn from great leaders and work for an organization that truly cares for the community it serves.

After years of working with Ruth Batson and the wonderful staff at the AGS on committees, I joined as the Deputy Executive Director in 2015. Soon after, Ruth announced her plans to retire. I applied and was promoted to CEO in 2017.

What is your favorite type of jewelry to wear?
I wear some of everything: pearls, color, and of course, I love diamonds.

What are your most memorable moments from one of our JCK events?
JCK events are so valuable to our industry and such a fun time to reconnect with or meet new colleagues. My top three most memorable moments:

  1. My very first JCK Las Vegas show where I was blown away when I walked into the Sands! It is always fun to see someone at his or her first JCK Vegas show, which can be overwhelming in the best possible way.
  2. Connecting with the AGS community at the Gems After Dark event at JCK Tucson. The AGS Young Titleholders gather at the event and it is wonderful to connect with the industry’s best and brightest.
  3. JCK Las Vegas Maroon 5 concert. Such a fun night!

What are you most looking forward to in 2019?
Another year of change in the industry. I look forward to working with AGS members in 2019 to collaborate on new initiatives that will keep the Society thriving long into the future.

What’s in store for the AGS in the future?
The AGS will continue to provide education and credentials to our members. We have a long history of serving our members. We will continue to serve through events such as AGS Conclave, tackling trends and issues we face today, like retail innovation, detection and gemology, and the changing consumer.

Can you share with our readers a small glimpse of the topics and conversations that you think will be prominent during JCK Tucson 2019?
I think laboratory-grown diamonds will remain a hot topic as they continue to find their place in the market; especially in the area of detection. The AGS Laboratories team will remain focused on this important work. Another topic that will continue to grow in relevance is how we inspire, attract, develop and transition jewelry businesses to the next generation of future leaders of this wonderful industry. I am personally excited to watch the industry evolve as this passionate, perceptive, and creative group of young leaders take larger roles in their businesses.

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