Alumni Association

GIA Alumni Association Celebrates 35th Anniversary in 2017

A group of people in evening attire.
Taiwan Chapter members celebrate the holidays in style. Courtesy of GIA Alumni Taiwan Chapter

It’s a new year and there’s new energy with our alumni around the globe.

There’s lots to report as we emerge from the blur of year-end and our focus has moved onto 2017. Chapters are growing in number, individuals are increasing their alumni involvement, continuing education remains in demand, alumni events continue to expand − and the GIA Alumni Association is turning 35!

The GIA Alumni Association was officially launched as a global association of GIA graduates by GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat and Robert Ernest in 1982. We all owe our gratitude to these gentlemen for recognising the benefit of an organised group to encourage and promote the shared interests, education, news and business networks that support integrity and knowledge in the gem and jewellery industry.

The GIA Alumni Association and its network has truly enhanced my career and personal life immensely. And I anticipate many others would say the same. I was introduced to the organisation in 1986, and got involved from the start. My participation made it possible for this “newbie” in the industry to meet so many respected business professionals who shared my passion for our industry. Many became mentors and lifelong friends.

Technology, gemstone discoveries and treatments, distribution channels, and other industry advancements and issues have developed and evolved, but the passion for this industry and the value of personal integrity and reputation remains unchanged.

So I offer this advice to our alums around the globe: if you are not already active, take the first step to enhance your profession. Get to know fellow alumni in your area, join GIA chapter hosted activities or consider starting a regional alumni chapter if one doesn’t exist. Be a participant − not an onlooker.

Read on for an end-of-year report and plans for 2017.

Alumni Activities during the Busy End-of-Year Season

Even in our industry’s busy December and first quarter months, GIA chapters did not slow down, delivering education sessions, socials and gemmological updates to their members.

  • Bangalore, Delhi and Surat were introduced as new chapters in December. We are excited to welcome their leaders and all of the individuals who will benefit from these active new GIA alumni networks.
  • Ontario, Canada;Greater Cincinnati-Ohio; San Diego; Golden Gate-California; Monterrey, Mexico; and London celebrated the end of the year with holiday gatherings and winter socials in December and January.
  • Taiwan’s holiday gala included education, networking and sharing the chapter’s rich history.
  • Washington, DC’s annual holiday party and auction raises funds to support the chapter and provide opportunities for more than 10 education events each year. 
  • Hong Kong hosted a Michelin Starred meet up for chapter members at the famed VEA restaurant.
  • Los Angeles members gathered for a presentation by GIA’s Robert Weldon on “Rediscovering Columbia’s Chivor Emerald Mine”. To read more on the topic, see Weldon’s 2016 Gems & Gemology article.
  • Manhattan members expanded their knowledge on gemstone phenomena and Art Nouveau at recent events.
  • Mile High - Colorado presented a training session for members via the GIA Continuing Education Recognition Programme.
  • Monterrey, Mexico led an informative presentation on synthetic gemstones for attendees.
  • Switzerland members had the rare opportunity to tour the Swiss Gemmological Institute (SSEF) in Basel and hear an educational lecture from Director General Dr Michael Krzemnicki.
  • Washington, DC hosted Michelle Graff, editor-in-chief of National Jeweler magazine.
  • Golden Gate - California hosted GIA’s Dr Tao Hsu and Andy Lucas for an overview of the “Mine to Market” process in the coloured gem trade. They also shared first-hand experiences from their field gemmology research travels. 

GIA News and Highlights

Party at the GIA Gem Mine: Cosmic Blast hosted in Tucson, was once again a tremendous success. More than 350 attended the industry reunion, dinner, dance and auction held annually by the GIA Alumni Association.

The Tucson Alumni Chapter Leadership Forum had more than 40 chapter leaders from around the world in attendance for a working meeting. GIA executive leadership and volunteer chapter ambassadors met to discuss the benefits and developments for our alumni worldwide.

GIA’s Continuing Education Recognition Programme saw an increase in 2016 participants. Registration for the 2017 programme is in demand, following the release of lesson 1: “Natural American Fresh Water Pearls”, in early February. The programme offers GIA Graduate Gemologists from across the globe access to up-to-date gemmological education that continues to keep graduates' knowledge relevant. For programme information visit the webpage or contact

A small group of alumni members gather around a table.
Christmas celebration with Monterrey, Mexico Chapter. Courtesy of GIA Alumni Monterrey, Mexico Chapter

Looking Ahead in 2017

GIA Events and Tradeshow Participation. GIA will be present at 13 global trade fairs in the next eight weeks. Visit our representatives at shows in Bangkok, Basel, Hong Kong, Johannesburg, Mumbai, New York and multiple shows across India and the U.S. to find out the latest on GIA education, offerings and news.

Show Service Laboratories will be available at Basel and both Hong Kong fairs in March. They will offer GIA laboratory coloured gemstone identification services on site.

GIA Seminars in Hong Kong – Join GIA researchers Dr Wuyi Wang and Dr Evan Smith, for two presentations:

  • “Breakthrough in Natural IIa Diamond Research and Current Status of Synthetic Gem Diamond” on 28 Feb at the AsiaWorld Expo
  • “Systemising Quality Assurance for Fine Jewellery Using GIA Benchmarking” on 5 March at Hong Kong Convention Exhibition Centre

The 104th Gemstone Gathering will take place in Bangkok on Wednesday, 26 April. All industry members are invited to join this quarterly education event, hosted by GIA.

The 14th annual Sinkankas Symposium will convene on Saturday, 8 April at GIA’s World Headquarters in Carlsbad, California. The event will host an extraordinary line-up of speakers for this year’s symposium topic: Sapphire. Visit the website for additional details, speakers and registration.

Opportunities for Alumni

GIA Alumni Reception in Basel  Save the date and join us on Saturday, 25 March for an evening social reception that will bring together GIA alumni and industry friends from around the world in Basel, Switzerland.

GIA global alumni chapter events are open to all. You’re encouraged to expand your knowledge and your network by attending GIA-hosted or chapter activities in your area or when you travel. Visit the events page on for ongoing updates and new listings.

We are up and running in 2017. With more than 116,000 alumni and our 35-year legacy, I look forward to the opportunity to grow the success of the GIA Alumni Association from the legacy of leaders that stood before me and to support professional growth and education opportunities for GIA alumni worldwide.

And, a reminder to those who have haven’t made the most of their affiliation: It’s never too late to start.

Kate Donovan, GIA GG, manager of global alumni relations, has more than 25 years of gem and jewellery sales experience.