Majors

‘Big Al’ Woodill, Who Helmed AGS for 4 Decades, Dies at 101

MajorsAug 19, 2021

‘Big Al’ Woodill, Who Helmed AGS for 4 Decades, Dies at 101

He had a passion for AGS that helped it grow into the respected association it is today.

20210819_Al-Woodill.jpg
Al Woodill, who served as executive director of AGS for 40 years, died Aug. 16 at age 101.
Las Vegas—Alfred Woodill, who served as executive director of the American Gem Society for 40 years and is credited with growing it into the strong organization it is today, died Aug. 16 at the age of 101. 
 
Known to many as “Big Al” or “Mr. AGS,” the latter of which he was first called in 1972 by then-president Bill Argo, Woodill was a man of great talent with a passion and love for the society. 
 
The California native was the nephew of AGS founder Robert M. Shipley’s wife, Beatrice. He worked for the Shipleys during high school and later while he attended the University of California, Los Angeles, where he graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business in 1946. 
 
He took time off from being a student at UCLA to serve as a bomber pilot in World War II, rising to the rank of captain in the Army Air Corps. 
 
Early in his career, Woodill traveled with Shipley to sell GIA courses, promote the AGS, and attend the organization’s Conclave events. And since he knew shorthand, he’d write articles as Shipley dictated them while they were taking long car trips. 
 
In 1947, he took over as Shipley’s successor, joking that his first job in the role at a Conclave event was to “have a metal box and sell lunch tickets.” 
 
Woodill is credited with transforming the society into the association it is today. 
 
“We are all heartbroken at the loss of this great man, who was so instrumental in shaping the American Gem Society. Mr. Woodill was a direct link for many of us to Robert M. Shipley himself. But beyond that connection, the legacy he left on our community is immeasurable,” said Katherine Bodoh, CEO AGS and AGS Laboratories.
 
He grew the organization’s membership and guilds and led the expansion of member services. He also helped institute expand key initiatives like the Accredited Gem Laboratory designation and the AGS Diamond Grading Standards, Governance and Education requirements.
 
Woodill retired in 1987, but since AGS didn’t want to say goodbye, it named him “AGS Ambassador.”
 
He continued to offer his insights to the organization’s leadership well after he had stepped down—he was known for calling each new president to welcome them to the new role and give them advice. 
 
The board awarded him Honorary Membership based on his service to the society and the jewelry industry at large.
 
In 1970, he received the prestigious Shipley Award from AGS, and in 2000, the society honored him with the Circle of Distinction Lifetime Achievement Award. 
 
AGS set up a memorial page to honor his life and achievements on its website here.
Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

The Latest

Swarovski New York City flagship
IndependentsMay 21, 2024
State of Retail: 4 Retail Design Trends for 2024

From lighter color palettes to the integration of AR, experts offer inspiration for jewelers in need of an aesthetic refresh.

Dame Shirley Bassey’s
AuctionsMay 21, 2024
Dame Shirley Bassey’s Diamonds Are Ready for Their Encore

Sotheby’s will auction jewelry belonging to the “Diamonds Are Forever” singer in Paris this October.

National Jeweler columnist Sherry Smith
ColumnistsMay 21, 2024
Successful Vendor Relationships: A Win-Win Approach

Sherry Smith shares tips for fostering successful vendor-retailer partnerships, from marketing investment to fast-seller replenishment.

1872 x 1052 Gemolite.jpg
Brought to you by
Meet Gemology’s Next Generation Microscope: GIA® Gemolite® NXT Professional Edition

GIA®’s most advanced microscope has new features to optimize greater precision and comfort.

Jennifer Herold, Independent Jewelers Organization vice president
IndependentsMay 21, 2024
Jennifer Herold Promoted to VP at IJO

Herold has been with the organization for 22 years and will continue in her current role of conference director.

Weekly QuizMay 16, 2024
This Week’s Quiz
Test your jewelry news knowledge by answering these seven questions.
Take the Quiz
Nivoda executive team at table
SourcingMay 20, 2024
2 Business-to-Business Platforms Secure Millions in Funding

Nivoda and Liquid Diamonds both have big plans for the new capital.

Elephants wading in the Okavango Delta in Botswana
SourcingMay 20, 2024
State of the Diamond Industry: Botswana Beyond Diamonds

From moringa to ecotourism in the Okavango Delta, the country and its leaders are exploring how Botswana can diversify its economy.

Royal Chain gold chains
Brought to you by
Record Gold Prices Have Consumers Undeterred. Here’s Why.

Despite the rising prices, consumers continue to seek out the precious metal.

Rough diamonds from De Beers
SourcingMay 20, 2024
Anglo American Confirms It Is Looking to Sell De Beers

The mining giant also wants to offload its platinum business as part of an overhaul designed to “unlock significant value.”

Buccellati jewelry
FinancialsMay 17, 2024
Richemont Appoints Van Cleef & Arpels’ Nicolas Bos as New CEO

The announcement coincided with its full-year results, with growth driven by its jewelry brands.

Watches of Switzerland Mall of America store
FinancialsMay 17, 2024
Watches of Switzerland’s Fiscal-Year Sales Flat

Looking ahead, the retailer said it sees “enormous potential” in Roberto Coin’s ability to boost its branded jewelry business.

My Next Question webinar series graphic
Recorded WebinarsMay 17, 2024
Watch: Preparing for Trade Show Success

Jewelry trade show veterans share strategies for engaging buyers, managing your time effectively, and packing the right shoes.

Cartier ring-tailed lemur brooch circa 1991
AuctionsMay 17, 2024
Piece of the Week: Cartier’s Ring-Tailed Lemur

This little guy’s name is Ricky and he just sold for more than $200,000 at Sotheby’s Geneva jewelry auction.

202.18 carat fancy intense yellow diamond The Yellow Rose
AuctionsMay 16, 2024
Christie’s Holds 2 Sales Despite Cyberattack

Though its website has been down for a week, Christie’s proceeded with its jewelry and watch auctions on May 13-14, bringing in nearly $80 million.

The Allnatt yellow diamond
AuctionsMay 16, 2024
Sotheby’s Withdraws 101-Carat Yellow Diamond from Auction

Despite the absence of “The Allnatt,” Sotheby’s Geneva jewelry auction totaled $34 million, with 90 percent of lots sold.

National Jeweler columnist Lilian Raji
ColumnistsMay 16, 2024
The PR Adviser: What the Designer Should’ve Done

Lilian Raji gives advice to designers on how to make the most of great publicity opportunities.

Mothae Diamond Mine Lesotho
SourcingMay 16, 2024
Lucapa to Shed Stake in Lesotho Diamond Mine

The mining company wants to divest its 70 percent holding in the Mothae Diamond Mine in an effort to streamline its portfolio.

National Jeweler columnist Peter Smith
ColumnistsMay 15, 2024
Squirrel Spotting: Why Retailers Struggle to Fire Brands

Why do so many jewelers keep lines that are not selling? Peter Smith thinks the answer lies in these two behavioral principles.

The Argyle Phoenix red diamond
AuctionsMay 15, 2024
Red Diamond Breaks Records at Phillips Geneva

The “Argyle Phoenix” sold for more than $4 million at the auction house’s second jewels sale.

Jewelers of America 20 Under 40 2024 recipients
Events & AwardsMay 15, 2024
See Who’s in JA’s 2024 ‘20 Under 40’ Class

The annual list recognizes young professionals making an impact in jewelry retail.

David Mann jewelry store
IndependentsMay 15, 2024
David Mann Jewelers in Upstate NY to Close After 35 Years

Owner David Mann is heading into retirement.

Brilliant Earth Logan Hollowell jewelry collection
FinancialsMay 15, 2024
Brilliant Earth’s Sales Fall Flat in Q1

While overall sales were sluggish, the retailer said its non-bridal fine jewelry was a popular choice for Valentine’s Day.

The Yellow Rose and the Allnatt yellow diamonds
AuctionsMay 14, 2024
2 Huge Yellow Diamonds Are Heading to Auction

Christie's is selling one of the diamonds, moving forward with its Geneva jewelry auction despite the cyberattack that took down its website.

Born Leaders Platinum Born campaign
MajorsMay 14, 2024
Platinum Born Taps ‘Born Leaders’ for New Campaign

The ad aims to position platinum jewelry as ideal for everyday wear.

Instappraise Trifold Brochure
GradingMay 14, 2024
Instappraise Adds Trifold Brochure to Appraisal Offerings

Retailers can customize and print the appraisal brochures from their store.

White, pink, and blue lab-grown diamonds from Lightbox
Lab-GrownMay 13, 2024
Lab-Grown Diamond Brand Lightbox Cuts Prices by 25 to 40%

The move follows a price-drop test run in Q4 and comes with the addition of a “quality assurance card” from GIA for some loose diamonds.

Christie’s New York
TechnologyMay 13, 2024
Christie’s Website Brought Down by Hackers, Watch Auction Postponed

The site has been down since Thursday evening, just ahead of its spring auctions.

×

This site uses cookies to give you the best online experience. By continuing to use & browse this site, we assume you agree to our Privacy Policy