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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Finleon, GIA GG

Student Spotlight - Mary V. Haindel

Mary V. Haindel earned her Graduate Gemologist diploma in 1989 from GIA Santa Monica, and has maintained a passion for learning ever since. Mary has been a Board Member of the Jewelers of Louisiana since 2016, and has served as President of the GIA Alumni Association of Louisiana since 2015. She is a Certified Diamontologist through the Diamond Council of America, a Certified Pearl Specialist through the Cultured Pearl Association of America, a Registered Gemologist Appraiser, and has just earned her latest designation – NAJA Certified Senior Member.

Mary is currently working as an independent jewelry appraiser in the New Orleans, Louisiana and Miramar Beach, Florida areas. She tells us about her experiences in the appraisal business and with NAJA:


“In 1989, upon graduating from GIA, I returned to New Orleans to begin my jewelry career – which started by working for the Zale Corporation and, shortly thereafter, working for a Guild jewelry store. I noticed that customers did not want to leave their jewelry overnight for appraisals, and I could understand their reluctance. In thinking about the jewelry appraisal process and wanting to make the customer feel comfortable, I realized that once the jewelry is identified and notes and pictures are taken, the customer should be able to take their jewelry home while the appraisal is being formally prepared. This was also the incentive for me getting a mobile lab which would allow me even greater flexibility with meeting customers’ needs as part of the appraisal process.

That same year, 1992, I joined NAJA and attended my first conference in Tucson, AZ. What intrigued me most about the NAJA sessions was how informative they were, along with the tremendous support of the attendees and the value of networking with peers. After 25+ years of being an NAJA member, I still have the same feelings today when I attend a NAJA event. Thinking back to my first NAJA meeting, I was fortunate to have met Anna Miller and the opportunity to listen to her speak at the event. The leaders at NAJA at that time were the leaders in our industry, and in my opinion, continue to still be the best in our industry.

Joining NAJA and attending the events in Tucson, AZ, made me realize the importance of continuing education and making connections in the industry. The same year I joined NAJA, I also joined and attended the AGA conference. Through the years, I have continued to attend classes and conferences on an on-going basis while acquiring many designations. In addition, I try to attend at least one seminar a year, and more if possible.

Our NAJA leaders today ensure we are exposed to information in a constantly changing industry through conferences, connections, and newsletters. In continuing to grow with NAJA, I am proud to share that I have just recently become designated as an NAJA Certified Senior Member having completed all requirements successfully.”


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