GIA's founder, Robert M. Shipley, had a tremendous impact on the world of gems. Shipley recognized the need for a comprehensive, international approach for understanding and evaluating gemstones. Without it, confusion and distrust would reign both at home and abroad. Shipley founded the Gemological Institute of America, not only as a place for gemological study and research, but as an educational facility where gem knowledge could be organized and shared with the public. His goal, and the Institute's enduring principles, are clearly reflected in GIA's mission statement:
'Ensure the public trust in gems and jewelry by upholding the highest standards of integrity, academics, science and professionalism through education, research, laboratory services and instrument development."
Today, GIA has 19 locations spread across 14 countries. With 12 campuses, 7 laboratories and 4 research centers, GIA has a presence in all of the major gem and jewelry centers around the world. GIA has trained more than 300,000 students since it was founded in 1931.