A machine that uses ion-beaming
technology, background, can engrave words and
phrases. Randy Wagner is the CEO and president of
Mequon-based GemEx Systems Inc.
Photo by Mark Justesen
MEQUON - As he sits in his office and explains
the technical details of diamonds, Randy Wagner shares props and
periodically gets up to draw diagrams on his whiteboard. Through
his latest entrepreneurial venture, he has gained in-depth
knowledge of one of the most expensive pieces of jewelry.
But Wagner, president and CEO of Mequon-based
GemEx, didn’t always aspire to be working around diamonds.
Wagner has a background in electrical engineering - an almost
ironic field of expertise for someone in a business synonymous
As a person who enjoys inventing, Wagner in the
mid-1990s had a pivotal role in creating an electrocardiograph
instrumentation machine that has been used in doctors’ offices.
After a few years, however, he decided to sell the invention and
attached business and move on.
GemEx has been situated, quietly and
unassumingly, in a business park on Mequon’s southern end since
the company’s founding in 1998. But the company has a worldwide
presence because of the company’s proprietary equipment and
relationships with global companies.
“We’re unlike anything else out there,” Wagner
proudly proclaims as he explains GemEx and its services.
Wagner established the 16-year-old business with
company vice president Kurt Schoeckert.
The company’s mission has been straightforward
from the beginning, Wagner said. He aspires to bring a more
precise approach toward appraising a diamond’s value. The
long-held method, he asserts, is subjective.
“We have been working to bring a scientific
approach to the diamond world,” he said. “We’re a small, but
widely used company.”
He explains to a reporter the basics of diamonds
- including the fine art of diamond cutting and the challenges
of mining the natural formation - Wagner said the true value is
traditionally found in the brilliance of a particular diamond.
“When you have a diamond, you want it to look
good,” he said.
In the past decade-and-a-half, GemEx has been
working with diamond distributors across the globe. The company
has developed 270 patented machines that examine a diamond’s
brilliance, fire and sparkle on a five-measurement scale system.
Only 15 of the machines are in the U.S., Wagner
said. The remainder are at facilities across the globe.
Wagner said GemEx does not make its profits from
the machines themselves, but the reports generated by the
machines, which, in turn, are analyzed and given a certification
from the company.
“What’s been happening is retailers are starting
to want GemEx reports to back up a diamond’s quality,” Wagner
With many people purchasing a diamond once - or,
at most, a few times - in their lifetime, Wagner equated it to
purchasing a home or vehicle. “It’s an investment, and a
worthwhile one,” he said.
GemEx entered a new chapter in its history
recently when a new customized system developed by Wagner and
Schoeckert hit the market and has been used by jewelers.
Using ION beaming technology, GemEx has developed
a system that will engrave images and phrases into a diamond.
The customer’s customized photo or word can be viewed through a
The engraving is traditionally done through
customer requests, with jewelers intercepting the details to
Wagner said the customized images have proven
popular among customers interested in ensuring the diamond in
their possession is indeed the one purchased initially. It is an
anomaly, but Wagner said there have been instances of jewelers
swapping out diamonds that are being resized.
In the near future, plans call for GemEx to
create an app that would allow the owner of a diamond to view
the image or phrase through his or her cell phone, rather than a
“This is something that’s still in development,”
Wagner said. “But we have prototypes out there.”
Wagner said GemEx will continue to grow and
evolve into the future. Although the company’s home base is in
the U.S., Wagner said the company has, and will continue to,
conduct the majority of its business in other corners of the
The company has 16 employees. Wagner and
Schoeckert frequently visit trade shows across the world to
display their invention.
“This is a very small community,” Wagner said.
“We’ll see a lot of the same people at the different shows.”