Gary Smith grew up with law enforcement in his blood and an intense interest on gems. It is no wonder, among many other things, he would grow to become a forensic gemologist.
"I grew up around police and detective work. My father put together the fingerprint division for the Pennsyvania state police. I literally grew up in the police baracks. I went into the military and worked for the government. I had this law enforcement initial background. But I always loved jewelry," Smith said.
Smith's Montoursville location is multi-faceted. Their are many ecquisite items to choose from. However, Smith is also a restoration specialist and a forensic gemologist.
Gary L. Smith, owner of Smith Jewelers and PA Gem Lab in Montoursville
sits at his restoration lab.
According to Smith, there is a big problem globally with undercarating. Smith homes the laboratory for the Jewelers Vigilance Committee (JVC). JVC is the watchdog of the national jewelry industry. They do all of the metalergical testing, this testing allows the tester to to figure out the caratage as well as components of the piece.
"We have a lovely clientelle. Many of them are second and third generation clients. I have been in the jewlery business for 50 years. I have been in the Montoursville location for going on 25 years," Smith said.
Smith is one of the 39 master gemologist appraisers in the world. He apprenticed in Germany and Asia.
According to Smith, his specialty is antique imperial jewelry, hard to find items and one of a kind items. He brokers large estates and many times he repairs expensive and unique items.
Dealers around the world seek Smith out to test their jewelry's authenticity. A big portion of Smith's business is the detecting of fraud cases.
"A dealer once gave me a $1 million necklace that was supposed to belong to Czar Nicholas of Russia. The necklace was going into aution. It turned out it was an outright fraud. It was newly made within the last few years. The diamonds and platinum were real. However, there was no way it belonged to Czar Nicholas," Smith said.
According to Smith, fraud detection can be tricky because gems have been synthesized since the 12 to 1300's. "Since the time of Trebinje in the12 and 1300's they have been synthesizing and making fake gems and putting foils behind the stones to change their colors," Smith said.
"The fakes are getting so good and there are so many synthetics. Rubies, emeralds and saphires have been replicated since late 1890's. In the 1900 expedition synthesized rubies were selling for more than the real ones because they were flawless."
Smith teaches internationally. Smith teaches for the American Society of Appraisers.
One of Smith's clients is the Smithsonian.
Smith's success can be summed up in two words, Absolute Magazine. This is a magazine where you would need a discretionary income of nearly a half million or more before you can even get on their mailing lists. Smith's restoration business made a mention in the magazine.
"They did an article where if your milano blanco shoes lose a heel or if your Armini suit gets a whole in it, where do you do to get it fixed? They named the top eight repair places in the United States. They picked me as the jeweler," Smith said.
The jewelry shop is open 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday to Thursday and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays. Saturday hours can be made by appointment. For more information, individuals may contact the shop at 368-4653.