More than 400 alumni and guests from 15 countries gathered for the 2018 Party at the GIA Gem Mine in Tucson recently to re-connect with former classmates, meet new industry friends, and perhaps even establish a new business relationship.
This year, it was also an opportunity to celebrate what would have been the 100 birthday of Richard T. Liddicoat, the world-renowned gemologist, statesman for the gem and jewelry industry and beloved second president of GIA. Photos, mementos and videos highlighting Liddicoat’s life and legacy were on display at the event and Susan Jacques, president and CEO of GIA, paid tribute to his contributions to GIA and gemology.
Liddicoat served as an instructor, president and chairman of the board of GIA for more than 60 years. He and his colleagues established the universal standards for evaluating the quality of diamonds – the 4Cs of diamond quality and the International Diamond Grading system for D-to-Z diamonds – and he was editor-in-chief of Gems & Gemology for more than 50 years.
Liddicoat was also the guiding force, along with GIA veteran Robert Ernest, behind the creation of the GIA Alumni Association in 1982. They recognized the benefit of organizing GIA graduates around the world to encourage and promote education, news and business networks that support integrity and knowledge in the gem and jewelry industry. Today, the organization is more than 120,000 members strong with 70 chapters around the world.
“Some of you may have personally known or met Mr. Liddicoat and remember your encounters with him with a smile,” Jacques said. “He had a way of making you feel like you were the most important person to him in that moment. Mr. Liddicoat relished time spent with students, graduates and those who shared his passion for gemology around the globe.”
The event was also an opportunity to display the original design renderings of the finalists of the first-ever Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design. Catherine Zheng, a real estate broker who studied jewelry design in Carlsbad, was shocked and thrilled when Jacques that she was the grand prize winner.
Jacques then kicked off the always exciting and competitive live auction, led by GIA alumni Joseph DuMouchelle and Lindy Adducci, of DuMouchelle Auctions, who volunteer their professional services each year. All proceeds from the event support the Alumni Endowment Fund. This year’s event raised more than $40,000 from event tickets and the silent and live auctions. More than 70 items, including loose gemstones and pearls, designer jewelry, mineral specimens, equipment, books and more were available to bid on.
“A special thank you to all of our auction contributors, supporters, event volunteers and attendees,” said Kate Donovan, manager of global alumni relations. “We look forward to seeing you all next year.”
Alumni Leadership Breakfast
GIA Alumni Association chapter leaders and senior GIA executives also gathered in Tucson for a breakfast meeting that included interactive dialog between alumni volunteer ambassadors and GIA executives who presented and shared GIA’s commitment to support alumni worldwide with programs and expanded benefits.
More than 40 leaders from 15 chapters attended, along with GIA executives Susan Jacques, president and chief executive officer; Bev Hori, senior vice president of education and chief learning officer; Duncan Pay, newly appointed chief academic officer; Jennifer Wilson, senior vice president and executive counsel; Seung-Hae Moon, managing director of Asia Pacific; Robert Weldon, director of the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center; Susan Schindelar, vice president of global marketing; and Stephen Morisseau, director of corporate communications.
Kate Donovan, manager of global alumni relations, welcomed the attendees and thanked all of the global alumni leaders (and chapters) for their work throughout the year to support local graduates, students, the industry and the public.
Jacques expressed her enthusiasm for the Alumni Association and assured the group of GIA’s commitment to support chapter initiatives by providing relevant resources. She provided an update on GIA services and spoke about Symposium, encouraging the group to sign up. She also urged the group to actively reach out to new alumni and invite them to participate in local chapter activities.
GIA Exhibits and Displays
GIA representatives were available at several booths and displays throughout the Tucson shows. GIA’s main booth at the AGTA show offered information on On-Campus and Distance Education; scholarships; laboratory services; and instruments.
The renderings of the 12 finalists for the first ever Gianmaria Buccellati Foundation Award for Excellence in Jewelry Design were also available to view. The competition was open to individuals who successfully completed a 2017 Jewelry Design course at any GIA campus worldwide. The winner was announced at the alumni party.
Tucson Gem and Mineral Show
The GIA museum showcased Liddicoatite tourmaline’s unrivaled variety of colors and intricate zonation. Liddicoatite was recognized as a new mineral species in 1977, named in honor of Richard T. Liddicoat (1918–2001), then president of GIA, in recognition of his enormous contribution to gemological knowledge and professionalism.
The Richard T. Liddicoat Library and Information Center displayed an exhibit that explored the history of crystallography through rare books, mineral specimens.