Alumni Association

Embrace the Renewed Energy – and Opportunities – of the Season

Twelve alumni chapter leaders gathered at GIA’s World Headquarters.
Twelve alumni chapter leaders gathered at GIA’s World Headquarters to join the 14th Annual Sinkankas Symposium, a day of education featuring leading researchers and industry experts on this year’s theme – sapphire. From left, alumni chapter leadership representing California – Los Angeles, Golden Gate and San Diego; Texas – Lone Star and Houston; Manhattan; and Germany chapters. Courtesy: Kate Donovan

The first four months of each new year go by in a flash – from Tucson’s gem and mineral shows, the Hong Kong Fairs, Baselworld’s glitz and glam to many other shows, events and conferences – the industry moves ahead with renewed energy as spring dawns and fresh new ideas for design, sourcing and opportunity inspire us.

I am especially excited when I see this same enthusiasm for education. Whether it’s new students arriving at GIA’s campuses or starting eLearning programs, our alumni registering to participate in the annual GIA Continuing Education Recognition Program, or the surge of education events and activities planned and hosted by our alumni chapters – they all are equally important. The flurry of excitement motivates me and personally reaffirms we are in the greatest industry on Earth!

Gem and jewelry professionals are connected by a passion for knowledge, driven by nature’s beauty and design, and the common goal of a global community committed to excellence – we are privileged to share this.

I’m often told my love for gems is palpable. If so, I hope my enthusiasm motivates you to embrace this renewed energy and opportunities. Nurture the industry relationships you have and expand your horizons, stay connected and stay informed, get involved and lead by example. Invest in yourself to cultivate your commitment to knowledge, integrity and excellence – the GIA Alumni Association can help you.

Since our last roundup of activities was published in mid-February, you will clearly see that our chapters, members and the Alumni Association team have been busy bringing education, networking and fun to all who choose to participate.

More than 50 events were organized by our chapters to serve and support alumni worldwide since February 2017. Opportunities to connect were plentiful and enjoyed at trade fairs in Basel, Hong Kong and Munich along with notable industry conferences, including AGS Conclave (hosted in Los Angeles this year) and the Sinkankas Symposium at GIA’s campus in Carlsbad, California.

The GIA Alumni Association also hosted a reception at Baselworld in March at the Museum der Kulturen Basel, Switzerland for more than 150 alumni and industry friends. The event and reunion drew guests from across Europe, North and South America, Asia and the Middle East. Alumni chapter leadership representatives from Germany, London, Switzerland, and the U.S. were in attendance.

Anna Martin, GIA senior vice president of global development, welcomes attendees at the GIA reception in Basel. Photo: Edward Johnson/GIA
Anna Martin, GIA senior vice president of global development, welcomes attendees at the GIA reception in Basel. Photo: Edward Johnson/GIA

Chapter Activities

Here are some of the highlights of chapter news and events in the last three months:

  • GIA speakers shared their expertise with alumni around the world. Dr. James Shigley, distinguished research fellow, provided an update on synthetic diamonds at chapters in Greater Cincinnati and Michigan. Russell Shor, senior industry analyst, highlighted an overview of “Auction Insights: Mega-Diamonds and Gemstones Shatter Records” for the Ontario – Canada chapter. Dr. Mei Mei Sit from the Hong Kong laboratory spoke on “Colored Stone Identification and Treatment” in Macau. Representatives from the New York laboratory shared a talk on “Color and Chemistry in Gemstones” in Manhattan.
  • The first-ever design awards and formal dinner were held at Inhorgenta Fair in Munich. Congratulations to the Germany chapter for coordinating a GIA alumni table at this glamorous evening and inviting alumni from across Europe.
GIA Alumni Germany Chapter members and guests celebrate in style at the Inhorgenta Awards Gala dinner in Munich. Courtesy: Germany chapter
GIA Alumni Germany Chapter members and guests celebrate in style at the Inhorgenta Awards Gala dinner in Munich. Courtesy: Germany chapter
  • The Arusha show brought many to Tanzania in May, providing the perfect opportunity for the Africa chapter to host a social event for local and visiting alumni, as well as show attendees.
  • Multiple chapters, including Georgia, South Carolina and Washington, D.C., hosted events that provided reports of Tucson’s gem and mineral shows to discuss trends, gemstone prices and the overall business.
  • Alumni, students and industry friends gathered together at Texas – Lone Star and Ontario – Canada for social gatherings.
Lone Star Chapter members meet for brunch in Austin, Texas to welcome new board members. Courtesy: Lone Star chapter
Lone Star Chapter members meet for brunch in Austin, Texas to welcome new board members. Courtesy: Lone Star chapter
  • Pearls were the focus of presentations by author Renee Newman at California – Orange County, and industry professionals Nick Kwan in Seattle and Teresa Tkacik in Washington, D.C. The Colorado – Mile High chapter shared GIA’s Continuing Education eLearning video on pearls followed by a Q&A session led by specialist and dealer, John Dunn.
  • Alan Bronstein discussed colored diamonds at “A Magical Mystery Tour” to attendees in London.
  • Colored gemstones, hands-on gemology study groups and industry reports remain popular among all chapters, including Colorado – Mile High, Monterrey – Mexico, Ontario – Canada, Minnesota – Twin Cities and California’s Golden Gate and Orange County chapters.
  • Adventures in mining, localities and gemstone production were presented at the Houston chapter by gem experts David Epstein on Brazil and Crystal Dorris on Colorado mines. “The Game of Stones” was presented by Sindi Schloss (president of Metro-Phoenix) to the Ohio chapter.
  • Matrix, CAD and 3D printing education and knowledge sharing were the focus at a recent Michigan chapter event. Attendees saw live demonstrations, shared experiences and stretched their creative talents at this interactive learning opportunity.
  • Meteorite expert Dr. Carleton Moore shared his knowledge with guests at a Metro-Phoenix event.
  • Presentations on auctions and auction house tours were enjoyed by Hong Kong and Switzerland.
  • Jewelry history, heirloom jewelry and famous makers were topics at the Manhattan, Metro-Phoenix, Mexico City and California’s San Diego and Golden Gate chapter meetings.
  • Marketing, PR and social media tips were shared by industry professionals for Hong Kong, Michigan, Monterrey – Mexico and Vermont members and guests.
  • Field trips to local museums and special exhibitions were enjoyed by alumni in Taiwan, Hong Kong and Washington, D.C. The history and treasures of Somewhere In The Rainbow, a private collection of outstanding gems and jewelry, was shared by its curator Shelley Sergent at the California – Golden Gate chapter.
The Taiwan chapter enjoyed an educational field trip to Coral Kingdom. Courtesy: Taiwan chapter
The Taiwan chapter enjoyed an educational field trip to Coral Kingdom. Courtesy: Taiwan chapter

Alumni News – Take Note

There are a few notable upcoming events we want to share with our global alumni. Mark your calendars – we hope to see you participate in these global education and experience opportunities.

  • Gemological Safaris to Mexico and Brazil. The Mexico City chapter invites all alumni to its upcoming Gemological Safaris to the Pearl Farm Harvest, Sea of Cortez (Mexico) June 29-July 2 and Brazil Mine Tour (Minas Gerais, Brazil) Aug. 10-20. Space is limited for both trips. All interested parties should contact the Mexico City chapter for more information.
  • Second Annual CalTech Gemology Lecture. The Los Angeles chapter has confirmed the second annual CalTech gemology lecture, featuring Dr. George R. Rossman, in August. Rossman, a renowned educator and professor of mineralogy in the division of geological and planetary sciences at the California Institute of Technology (CalTech), has authored or co-authored more than 320 publications in the mineralogical and chemical sciences and is a former GIA Board of Governor. To join the mailing list for further event details, email
  • World of Gems Conference V. The World of Gems Conference V will be held on Sept. 23-24 in Rosemont, Illinois and will include a lineup of international gemological experts and attendees. GIA speakers include Nicholas Sturman, from the GIA laboratory in Thailand, and Al Gilbertson, the recent Antonio C. Bonnano Award recipient, from the GIA laboratory in Carlsbad, California. The last conference hosted more than 200 attendees from 15 countries, including seven GIA alumni chapter presidents in attendance. Visit the website for more details and registration.
  • GIA Session at GSA. GIA will host a session at the 129th annual meeting of the Geological Society of America (GSA) in Seattle, Washington on Oct. 22-25. “Gemological Research in the 21st Century: Characterization, Exploration and Geological Significance of Diamonds and other Gem Minerals” will include speakers and poster sessions;  GIA is accepting abstracts  for presenters.
  • GIA Symposium in 2018. GIA will host its sixth International Gemological Symposium in Carlsbad Oct. 7-9, 2018. Details of the two tracks – business and research – will be announced soon. This symposium will include a lineup of world-renowned researchers from the gemological community and a business track offered in conjunction with the Harvard Business School. GIA has offered annual programs with Harvard Business School since 2014.

If you’re not already attending these great alumni events, I hope one of these opportunities or activities inspires you to become more involved with your Alumni Association. It is a great way to support your passion and industry success.

Thank you to all of the chapter leaders who work so hard to reach GIA alumni in their area to build the relationships and bonds that make our industry so special.

I have a feeling a busy 2017 will continue!

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