By Michelle Graff
Doug Hucker called winning the 2018 Robert M. Shipley Award “one of the proudest moments of my life.” Seated on the stage as he accepted were 10 past Shipley recipients, ranging from the most recent, Cathy Calhoun (seated far right), to Cos Altobelli (seated far left), who won in 1987. (Photo credit: Lester Austin, Universal Image)
Nashville, Tenn.--Mark Moeller described Douglas K. Hucker as “a natural storyteller and captivating public speaker” who has limitless joy in spreading his passion about colored gemstones and jewelry.

But the American Gem Trade Society CEO and longtime industry leader did not have his usual easy time speaking Wednesday when he was announced as the winner of the 2018 Robert M. Shipley Award, the AGS’s highest honor.

“Marie Osmond, my family here, Time Jumpers, great seminars and the Shipley Award ... (this) may be the best Conclave I ever had,” an obviously emotional Hucker said when he stepped to the podium for his acceptance speech.

“I’ve been doing this for a long time, and this is probably one of the proudest moments of my life,” he continued, pausing to collect to himself.

“I was very lucky. I think luck has a lot to do with it. You have to be committed, but you have to be lucky, and I was very fortunate early in my career.”

20180426 Hucker insertBob Moeller talks a bit about Doug Hucker after announcing the AGTA CEO as the winner of the 2018 Robert M. Shipley Award. “Couldn’t you dress up?” Moeller joked to Hucker at one point, presumably in reference to his shoes. (Photo credit: Lester Austin, Universal Image)Hucker said getting hired to teach at Gemological Institute of America by Richard T. Liddicoat changed his life because it allowed him to find a passion, and the “incredible” instructors he worked with at GIA set him on a course and gave him a compass with their integrity and knowledge.

He also was lucky, he said, to have a mentor who brought him to his first Conclave—back in 1927, he joked—introducing him to an experience and an organization that has provided him with both education and friendships, and has allowed him to mentor young people starting out in the trade.

“I’m very fortunate to be part of this,” Hucker said, before ending his speech by suggesting the AGS introduce an additional mentor program in which the current mentees pass along their knowledge to the mentors.

“Many of the young people who are in the organization today, I would like them to mentor me. There are many, many things that they know and they do that we need to know.”

The Shipley luncheon kicked off with a speech from GIA President and CEO Susan Jacques. (GIA was the sponsor of the luncheon.)

Jacques, like Lisa Bridge at the Titleholders Luncheon Tuesday, started by remembering longtime industry leader Herb Bridge, who died April 2 at the age of 93, before announcing a $50,000 grant from the GIA to the AGS for scholarships for members to take GIA courses.

The myriad challenges today—from technology to sourcing to changes in retail—make the need for ethical, educated jewelers “ever more relevant,” Jacques said.

The 2018 edition of AGS Conclave wrapped up Wednesday in Nashville with the President’s Party, at which the organization announced the location for Conclave 2019—Seattle.

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