In the mid-1960’s Ray Zajicek was hired as a translator for his Spanish speaking skills by a Japanese company to assist in buying Colombian emeralds in Bogota. Having no previous knowledge of the stone, he immediately developed a passion for emeralds, learning everything about them in the process. He soon founded Equatorian Imports upon his first independent buying trip in 1968.

Upon flying back the States he was unsure of what to do with his new purchases, so he immediately went to New York City to see just what he had gotten himself into. He quickly realized that he had made the right decision, selling all of his merchandise to new faces he had never met in the jewelry district. Ray then promptly returned to Colombia, and soon he was quickly climbing the ladder within the trade and becoming a reputable international gemstone dealer.

Long before personal computers and social media, the gemstone industry was a fairly loose group of dealers located mostly in NYC. Some were of high ethical standards and practices who preached disclosure, and consumer awareness about the product, while others were simply in it for the sale.

With so much misinformation out there about gemstones, along with all the various treatments and methods of enhancement, and the disclosure of these practices, Ray recognized the necessity to have an organization that would represent honest dealers with ethical business practices. This organization would lend a collective voice to these dealers and help to spread the word about colored gemstones, promoting the product to the US consumer. Along with a few other industry pioneers Ray helped found and start the American Gem Trade Association in 1982. He was elected to serve as its second president in 1983.

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