The RealReal, which was the first luxury online resale site to offer watch and fine-jewelry authentication services at consumer-facing valuation offices across the U.S., on Monday said it’s collaborating with the University of Arizona to create a new degree program for gemology. The RealReal is funding an endowed chair at the University of Arizona College of Science to help the institution develop new research and technology.
An undergraduate program and graduate course of study for master’s and Ph.D. students, focusing on gemological research and skills, will be funded by the endowment. Gem-A, the Gemological Association of Great Britain, is partnering with the University of Arizona and The RealReal to allow students in its program to earn gemology certifications.
The RealReal said the goal of the collaboration is to develop unique technologies to enhance the study of gemology. The e-commerce site in November unveiled its first store, a two-level 8,000-square-foot flagship in New York’s SoHo, which is staffed with gemologists and watch experts. The Real Real hopes to pass on knowledge and information gleaned from the University of Arizona programs to its gemologists, buyers, collectors and potential sellers.
The new degree program will be located in Tucson, which is known as the mineral and colored stone capital of the world. Students will study on campus and at labs at the school’s Gem and Mineral Museum in the city’s downtown.
“As the market leader in the jewelry resale market, we’ve always invested heavily in gemologists, research and technology,” said Julie Wainwright, chief executive officer of The RealReal. “Collaborating with the University of Arizona on this new degree program will enhance our efforts and help the entire industry. We’ve been extremely impressed with the expertise of University of Arizona gemologists.”
“The Real Real is clearly an innovator in the luxury space,” said Joaquin Ruiz, dean of the University of Arizona College of Science, vice president for innovation, and executive dean of the Colleges of Letters, Arts and Sciences. “The University of Arizona is known as an innovator in many aspects of retail, forensic sciences and development of novel programs. Partnerships like this gemology program are how transformative changes happen.”