James Shigley


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The Face of GIA Research

For more than 30 years, Dr. James Shigley has been widely recognized as the face of GIA research. Since 1982, he has represented the Institute around the world, lecturing and publishing extensively on topics related to diamonds, colored stones, and gem identification.

After graduating from the University of California, Berkeley, Shigley served on active duty in the U.S. Army from 1971 to 76, eventually retiring from the Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel. He joined GIA as a senior research scientist after earning a doctorate in geology from Stanford University. He quickly proved his mettle in the laboratory, becoming manager of the research department within three years of his arrival. In 1987, he became GIA’s director of research; today, he serves as the Institute’s first and only distinguished research fellow.

Shigley has been a prolific contributor to gemological research. As of September 2014, he has authored or coauthored 59 articles for Gems & Gemology alone; 29 of those have received the journal’s Most Valuable Article award. He serves as a contributing editor for G&G, and as the editor of the G&G in Review book series. His studies have identified methods of separating natural from synthetic diamonds, documented important gem localities, and established characteristics of HPHT synthetic diamonds. Shigley was instrumental to the creation of the GIA Gem Project, a collection of 2,800 stones (representing 225 minerals) from the Edward J. Gübelin Collection that is available as a free research and identification resource to the trade and the public.

Shigley has mentored countless GIA staff members during his 32-year tenure, passing the torch of practical skills and hard-won experience to the next generation of gemologists. His contributions have earned industry recognition, including AGA’s Antonio Bonnano Award for Excellence in Gemology (2007) and GIA’s Staff of the Year award (2006). Jim Shigley’s work has solidified the Institute’s reputation for groundbreaking research.