Thank you so much Philip, I will copy and send your reply to my friend. It was good advice for me as well. Once I get certified I am taking classes in watch repair, working as an apprentice at a jewelry shop and finally opening my own store. Hoping to do these things simultaneously so I wont be 80 when I finish, but its good to know there is a contact here for stones/jewelry purchase.
I am going to my first gem show this Saturday. Not sure what to expect but I will have my loupe handy!