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Biography - Barbara L Leal, GG FIRV FJVA

Gemmologist - Appraiser - Educator

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  • Graduate Gemologist
  • Founder & former Education Coordinator of GIA (London) Learning Center
  • Consultant to numerous high net worth clients
  • Download Barbara Leal's CV

Early Career

Barbara is an American citizen from Tucson, Arizona. From an early age, her hobby was a passionate interest in jewellery and in 1983 she secured a position in a long-established renowned retail store. It was here she vowed ‘to learn everything there is to know about jewellery, gems and diamonds.’

During the next seven years, she pursued gemmological and appraisal education, qualifying as a GIA Graduate Gemologist, and qualifying as an American Society of Appraisers (ASA) Master Gemologist Appraiser, a coveted qualification amongst jewellery appraisers throughout the States.

Barbara Leal - Jewellery Valuer
It is perhaps apparent that Barbara is routinely used to handling rare and ultra-high net worth gems, diamonds, and jewellery.

UK Progression

Identifying career opportunities in the UK, Barbara relocated here in 1994 and re-launched her career as a Senior Consultant Valuer and Training Officer to a leading Cambridge retail jeweller.

A couple of years later, together with another valuer, Peter Buckie, who became her business partner and later her husband, she co-founded VALUGEM. Together, they subsequently co-founded the highly acclaimed ‘APPRAISAL 2000 Master Class Programme’ offering educational seminars to the trade and aspiring valuers.

London beckoned in 1998, and Barbara (and Peter) relocated there. They concentrated on providing valuations for VIP private clients and the high-end jewellery trade, including Asprey and the then Crown Jeweller, Garrard, where Peter and Barbara were affectionately known as The Dream Team. Christie's Auctioneers also engaged them as independent consultants. They soon earned the nickname The Cavalry due to them continually rescuing the Christie's jewellery team from their ever-increasing workload. Christi''s still refer clients to Barbara and Peter when specialist valuation services they do not provide are required.

In late 1999, Barbara was head-hunted by the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) to found, establish, and run their Learning Centre in London and act as its Education Coordinator. After successfully completing that project, in 2003, Barbara re-joined Peter in operating both VALUGEM and JEMS, a sister enterprise.

Moving On

In 2014 Barbara became a member of the Institute of Registered Valuers (MIRV). The Institute subsequently appointed her as an NAJ CAT Advisor. In this role, she tutors aspiring valuers in the concepts, principles and methodologies recommended by the Institute.

Barbara has also given lectures and workshops on various subjects at the Institute's annual conference at Loughborough University, and this practice is ongoing. In 2015, she achieved Fellowship status of the Institute (FIRV). In 2020, Barbara became a Founder Member and Fellow of the Jewellery Valuers Association (FJVA), a newly formed independent professional organisation run by valuers for valuers.

In 2021, Barbara was awarded the NAJ Institute of Registered Valuers (IRV) premier accolade, the 'David Wilkins Award'. This meant that she and her husband, Peter, are now both proud recipients of this prestigious and coveted award.

Apart from providing numerous valuations in her own right, Barbara has frequently worked with her husband, Peter, on the valuation of ultra-high net worth jewellery collections, both here in the UK and on overseas assignments. Together, they have completed noteworthy valuations totalling several hundreds of millions of US dollars, and this calibre of work continues to be the backbone of their joint activities. Just over two years ago, they provided an appraisal Report on yet another huge private collection in the Middle East, which totalled many tens of millions of GB£sterling.

It is perhaps apparent that Barbara is routinely used to handling rare and ultra-high net worth gems, diamonds, and jewellery. Since arriving from the States twenty-seven years ago, she has built up an enviable reputation in the UK. Barbara is now the principal appraiser at VALUGEM and maintains her position of chief researcher at JEMS, where she very aptly terms herself Mission Control.

Despite her thirty-eight year career, Barbara still maintains that she wants ‘to learn everything there is to know about jewellery gems and diamonds’. However, she now readily admits that she probably never will but adds that she continues to learn every single day.

Gemological Institute of America Society of Expert Witnesses Institute of Registered Valuers The Jewellery Valuers Association JAW - Jewellery Appraisers of the World Society of Jewellery Historians