MEET OUR FACULTY

GIA instructors are passionate educators who bring years of industry experience to the classroom. All are leaders in their fields, and all are dedicated to helping you gain knowledge, acquire skills and launch your career.

gemology

Edyta Banasiak

Edyta Banasiak

A mineralogist and gemologist, Edyta received her Masters of Science in Geology from the Jagiellonian University in Poland. Her areas of study included hydrothermal processes and mineral systems. Edyta has been with GIA since 2013, holding the position of staff gemologist in the Colored Stones Gem Identification department, where she earned her Graduate Gemologist® diploma. Currently a gemology instructor at the New York campus, she is happily sharing her passion and knowledge with her students. Inspired by her scientific hero, Albert Einstein, she follows the saying, “Education is what remains after one has forgotten what one has learned in school.”

Sidharth Bhatia

Sidharth Bhatia

Sidharth’s interest in gems and jewellery started when he was young. Upon graduation from high school, he began working at Galaxy USA, where he specialised in the sale of fancy coloured diamonds. While at Galaxy USA, Sidharth earned his Graduate Diamonds diploma and graduated from Baruch College with a BA in Economics. His desire to learn and help others brought him to GIA in 2015. While working as a student support representative, he completed the Graduate Colored Stones programme (earning the Graduate Gemologist® diploma), and earned the Accredited Jewelry Professional and Graduate Pearls certificates.

Angelique Connelley

Angelique Connelley

GIA Graduate Gemologist® Angelique Connelley has years of professional gem and jewelry industry experience including work at Hoover & Strong grading diamonds, testing colored gemstones, and preparing diamond and colored stone pieces for auction. Angelique has also been a product knowledge trainer and coordinating sales leader of the PANDORA® jewelry collection by JARED®. In addition to her GIA credentials, she holds a master's degree in Teaching and a Bachelor of Arts in History from Virginia Commonwealth University.

Francoise Greder Faculty Image

Francoise Greder

Fran holds a Bachelor’s in English from Nice University in France. She entered the jewelry industry as a sales associate at a jewelry store, and then enrolled in GIA’s Graduate Gemologist® program to acquire necessary knowledge and skills. Fran has been a gemology instructor with GIA since 2000.

Jennifer Kim Faculty Image

Jennifer Kim

Jennifer is the director of education at GIA in New York. Prior to assuming her current responsibilities, she was the school’s campus manager and an instructor for the on-campus Graduate Gemologist diploma program. In addition to her time at GIA, Jennifer holds a bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Binghamton and has many years of industry experience. She was the merchandising manager at K. Moon & Star, Inc., a luxury goods and jewelry boutique in Manhattan; a corporate trainer at Roberto Coin, a high-end designer of diamond jewelry; and the manager of the repair department at H. Stern Jewelers, Inc.

Christopher La Varco

Christopher La Varco

Christopher’s gem and jewelry industry business acumen is an accumulation of his 30 years of experience. His multi-faceted and international industry experience includes executive leadership, buying and selling, supervising quality control, working with lapidaries on colored fancy diamonds, and natural and laboratory-grown gemstone trends. He has held positions including gem procurement and buyer at Temple St. Clair, gemstone and diamond dealer at Gem Essence Ltd., and Vice President at Maverick Industries, Inc., and he has leveraged his gemological expertise to actively participate in auction events and national bespoke programs. He is a lifelong learner and has a deep appreciation for mentoring others.

Hope Ly

Hope Ly

GIA Graduate Gemologist® Hope Ly has earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting & Metals at Temple University, Pennsylvania. With over 20 years of jewelry trade knowledge, Hope has worked in wholesale, buying, sourcing diamonds and colored gemstones, and marketing fine jewelry. She has worked for both private clients and auction houses. Hope brings with her a meticulous eye for design acquired at HCL Fine Jewelry, and an aptitude for compliance with established quality assurance procedures developed as Acquisition Manager at Fortuna Auction, Quality Control Manager of fine jewelry at CIRCA Inc., and Retail Boutique Manager at Me & Ro. She is eager to share her skills with students by teaching at the GIA New York campus.

Eduardo Mendoza

Eduardo Mendoza

Eduardo has held an enduring passion for the jewelry industry, which began with tutoring youth in metalsmithing courses in San Juan. Upon earning his GIA Graduate Gemologist® and Graduate Jeweler diplomas, he continued his pursuit of jewelry and design knowledge by attending design schools in Madrid and Miami. He worked as an apprentice for various designers, including Luis Morais, and then became a product developer and production supervisor in jewelry manufacturing for Retail Store Services/JBA Ventures, where he designed custom pieces and collections. He later moved to New York City to join the GIA Laboratory as a Diamond Grader and was promoted to Training Specialist, training lab employees on procedures and coaching them to align to GIA standards. He brings his years of diverse experience and eagerness to help students succeed to his role as an Associate Instructor for the New York campus.

jewelry manufacturing arts

Jorge D. Fuentes

Jorge D. Fuentes

Jorge brings to GIA over 18 years of Jewelry Design and CAD/CAM experience. He is a graduate of the New Jersey Institute of Technology and spent 6 years designing engraved artwork at Frederick Goldman, where he helped develop a line for engraved jewelry products and spearheaded a rapid production department using CAD/CAM in conjunction with CNC. In 2010, he created JDF Design & Consulting, which provided custom jewelry designs based on individual customer needs, and brought the designs from sketch to finished piece. Jorge has worked with various CAD/CAM programs in the industry, such as Rhinoceros, Matrix, SolidEdge, MasterCAM, and ZBrush. He also has extensive manufacturing and production experience in both the art side of jewelry including 2D/3D Design, as well as in the various rapid prototyping and jewelry techniques used to achieve the best results for each piece. Jorge is knowledgeable in drawing, CAD, 3D-Printing, LASER technologies, as well as in a myriad of jewelry design machining and finishing techniques.

John brings 25 years of CAD/CAM experience and 15 years of jewelry design experience to the classroom. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in mechanical engineering, John spent the next 10 years designing airframe components for numerous aerospace companies using CAD. In 1999, he founded M2 Systems, which offered CAD/CAM services to the jewelry industry. During his time at M2 Systems, he became a certified training facility for Robert McNeel and Associate’s Rhinoceros and Gemvision’s Matrix CAD systems. John also has extensive jewelry production experience, and is extremely knowledgeable about the newest 3D printing and CNC milling machines.

John Mastoloni

John brings 25 years of CAD/CAM experience and 15 years of jewelry design experience to the classroom. After graduating from Vanderbilt University with a degree in mechanical engineering, John spent the next 10 years designing airframe components for numerous aerospace companies using CAD. In 1999, he founded M2 Systems, which offered CAD/CAM services to the jewelry industry. During his time at M2 Systems, he became a certified training facility for Robert McNeel and Associate’s Rhinoceros and Gemvision’s Matrix CAD systems. John also has extensive jewelry production experience, and is extremely knowledgeable about the newest 3D printing and CNC milling machines.

Maria Tsangaropoulos

Maria Tsangaropoulos

Maria brings more than 20 years of jewelry design experience to the classroom. She was the director of product development for Riva Manufacturing, where she oversaw the CAD engineering team and the creation of prototypes and samples. She had similar responsibilities when she worked at Paul Winston, a manufacturer of bridal jewelry. At Robert Baum, a manufacturer of men’s jewelry, she was responsible for quality control and managing contractors. At Iris Gold, Maria was lead designer for the firm’s Italian-styled collection. Maria earned a bachelor in fine arts-jewelry /metalsmithing from California State University in Long Beach, the Jewelry Design certificate from GIA, and served a four-year apprenticeship with a Dutch goldsmith.