The CGA is an offshoot of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (GAGB), the world's oldest gemmological organization. GAGB (now known as Gem-A) fathered similar organizations in several countries.
Dean S.M. Field, founder of the CGA, had been keenly interested in the study of gems since 1929, and had earned his Fellowship with the GAGB in 1955. By 1956, he had entered into an agreement with GAGB to coach their gemmology correspondence courses in Canada, and the first sealed examinations were written at the University of Toronto in 1957. Successful candidates qualified for Fellowship with the GAGB.
The Canadian Gemmological Association itself was incorporated in 1958 to further promote gemmological education, and to encourage interaction between gemmologists. The doors were thrown open to gemmologists and students of other accredited gem schools, including the GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) and the GAA (Gemmological Association of Australia). In the words of Dean Field, the association was "...setting out to enhance, through 'hands-on' instruction, study and discussion, the knowledge of gem dealers, jewellers, and other persons interested in gemstones and jewellery generally. Too, we invited educators in similar and related fields to join forces with us ..."
In the interests of establishing a Canadian identity in the field, the Canadian Professional Gemmology program was developed with the input of many experts in the field, and students first sat qualifying examinations for Fellowship with the CGA in 1984. Over the last half century, the Canadian program has won worldwide respect, and Fellowship with the Canadian Gemmological Association is understood to demonstrate a competency in the field equal to that offered by the best international organizations.