By Michelle Graff
Washington--Ruth Batson, retiring CEO of the American Gem Society and AGS Laboratories, accepted her organization’s highest honor last week at Conclave, the Robert M. Shipley Award.

Taking the stage in front of a dozen past Shipley Award winners as well as the hundreds of Conclave attendees, a visibly emotional Batson received the pin that belonged to Sallie Morton, the AGS’s first female president and the first woman to receive the Shipley Award.

In her speech, the longtime AGS president, who is set to retire next year, said she was incredibly honored to receive the award named after AGS founder Robert M. Shipley, a man she never met but whose vision has inspired her for the past two decades. 

“One thing I do know it that Robert Shipley’s vision of professionalism takes two components, and that’s your commitment to ongoing education and your commitment to ethical business practices,” Batson said. “That is the only formula for professionalism and there are no shortcuts.”

“You guys, you’re the real deal and you should be really proud of that,” she said to the audience full of AGS member stores. “If Robert Shipley was here today, I know he would be very proud of all of you.”

Batson, who received a standing ovation both before and after her speech, also thanked her staff, her three children and her husband Chuck, all of whom were in the audience.

Back in February, Batson announced she would retire from AGS in June 2017, marking the end of a nearly 25-year career with the organization.

During her time with AGS, she has won numerous awards, including the Excellence in Service Award from the Women’s Jewelry Association in 2010 and the Doyenne of the Year Award from the Indian Diamond & Colored Stone Association in 2013.

She also was named a Jewelers for Children Facets of Hope honoree in 2012, won the Women’s Jewelry Association’s Lifetime Achievement Award in 2014 and has made JCK magazine’s Power List for the last four years.

Now, Batson can add her association’s highest honor to that list.

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