Alumni Association

New Developments and Opportunities for GIA Alumni Association Chapters and Members


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UK alumni and industry friends attended the first-ever GIA Jewelry Career Fair in London recently. Mehdi Saadian, director of GIA’s London school, moderated the opening panel discussion, “Job Success in Today’s Market,” which featured Mike Asscher, vice president of Royal Asscher; Rita Almeida, vice president of Swarovski Strategy and Business Development; and Michael Wainwright, managing director of Boodles. Photo by GIA

A new season has arrived and with it there is always a sense of new and renewed focus in our lives. I am excited to say this also pertains to the GIA Alumni Association, which has included an evolving focus on the development of expanded GIA benefits for alumni worldwide.

For the last eight years, the GIA Alumni Association team members have listened and observed, championed and promoted, conveyed your requests, and worked to develop benefits to support our chapters and members. These initiatives were constructive, but we always hoped we could do more.

Thanks to the extensive support and commitment from GIA executive leadership and the Board of Governors, we are pleased to announce a renewed structure, expanded education opportunities, and tools for both individual members and chapters to help you communicate your GIA alumni affiliation … and this is just the beginning.

London GIA Jewelry Career Fair attendees also had the opportunity to network with recruiters and participate in one-on-one coaching sessions with industry experts. Photo by GIA

The alumni team has been working feverishly with cross-Institute departments to develop and deliver the opportunities we announce today, which include:

  • A commitment to send GIA speakers to chapters across the globe to spread awareness of GIA’s groundbreaking research, advanced education and initiatives available to support individuals and the industry.
  • The launch of a new and formalized GIA Alumni Association Chapter Guidelines Handbook to support the development and sustainability of our global chapter network.

  • The release and advancement of a GIA Alumni Identity Program that elevates the awareness and recognition of chapter and individual members.

GIA recognizes the importance of our alumni who support and spread GIA’s mission for global industry standards, continued education and protecting the public. We value your commitment and opinions. We also recognize that delivering professional education to our alumni worldwide is a priority. Please tell us what education you would like to have made available by participating in a brief 2-3 minute survey to help us further develop opportunities for you.

I hope you are benefitting from all of the programs and opportunities GIA provides to alumni members. Beyond the announcements above, we are off to a great start in 2018 – with more than 40 GIA chapter events since January; each delivers valuable education and networking opportunities to GIA alumni worldwide.

A room full of people socializing in small groups.
GIA alumni members and industry friends from 11 countries gathered for the second annual GIA alumni reception at Baselworld. Photo by GIA

The following events have occurred since our last Alum Connect issue in March.

A GIA Alumni Reception at Baselworld – Alumni members and industry friends from more than 12 countries gathered for an evening of socializing and networking.

GIA Career Fair London – This first-ever event in London was an overwhelming success, bringing GIA alums from far and wide together for career guidance and support. The day was a valuable opportunity for job seekers, career enthusiasts and industry recruiters seeking GIA-educated talent.

The day began with a dynamic panel that included Michael Asscher, vice president of Royal Asscher; Nadja Swarovski, executive board member of Swarovski; and Michael Wainwright, managing director of Boodles, who discussed “Job Success in Today’s Marketplace.”

This was followed by an afternoon of career coaching and recruiting from top U.K. and global firms.

The 15th Annual Sinkankas Symposium – More than 165 scientists, gem lovers and artists attended to celebrate “50 Years of Tanzanite and Tsavorite.” Leaders from 12 GIA alumni chapters – California’s Golden Gate, Los Angeles and San Diego chapters, along with Houston, Chicago, Manhattan and more – also participated.

The annual education event, which is held at GIA’s world headquarters and campus in Carlsbad, is coordinated by the Gemological Society of San Diego (GSSD) and supported by volunteers. Visit the Sinkankas website for more details. 

A group of alumni stand in the hallway at GIA in Carlsbad.
Alumni chapter leaders gather in Carlsbad for a day of education at the 15th annual Sinkankas Symposium, organized by the Gemological Society of San Diego. Pictured, from left: Kate Donovan, GIA Global Alumni Relations manager; Gail Brett-Levine, vice-president of the Manhattan Chapter; Dave Bindra, president of the Los Angeles Chapter; Blaire Beavers, vice-president and Pheap Lorn-Canossi, committee member of the San Diego chapter; and Richard Drucker, foundation member of the GIA Alumni Association Executive Council.

These chapter events have also occurred:

  • A Sotheby’s Auction Gallery Exclusive made it possible for members of the Hong Kong chapter to view some of the world’s most exquisite jewelry designs.
  • “The Evolution and Development of Fei Cui & Jade Market” was presented by Sky Wei, GIA GG to Taiwan members.
  • A Fine Minerals Field Trip took members of Mile High, Colorado to The Collector’s Edge showroom, a renowned collection of mineral specimens from various dealers.
  • “Jewelry History, Identification and Value in Today's Market,” was presented by Jason Adams, a jewelry designer and estate specialist, to Ohio members.
  • A Diamond Industry Update was presented by industry veteran Jon C. Phillips, GIA GG, AGS CG, who explored the “Ups, Downs and De Beers' Blockchain Throws a Curve” to Golden Gate, California.
  • A Tucson Review and Chapter Social was attended by members in North Carolina.
  • “Advice on Predicting Long-Term Trends in the Jewelry Industry,” was presented by writer, consultant, teacher and industry advocate Marlene Richey, to Manhattan members.
  • “Clasps: 4,000 Years of Fasteners in Jewellery,” a historical journey of jewelry and walk through time and space was presented by author Anna Tabakhova to members of Golden Gate, California. She also reviewed the extensive research and knowledge she acquired while preparing her newly released book.
  • “Selling Techniques for the Jewelry Industry” was hosted by Monterrey – Mexico and Washington D.C.
  • Pearls were the topic of choice by author Renee Newman, GIA GG in Manhattan and chapter president Melissa Villarreal in Monterrey – Mexico.
  • Colored Gemstone topics were presented by several chapters, including “Capitalizing on Color” with industry veteran Adam Graham, in Seattle and “Crossover Gems: The Rare and Unusual - from Collectors to Connoisseurs,” by John Bradshaw, at Metro-Phoenix.
  • FBI agents spoke about safety to members in Houston and South Florida.
  • “A Colored Stone Market and Price Trend Forecast for 2018,” was presented by Stuart Robertson and Dr. Cigdem Lule from Gemworld International to members in Michigan.
  • Master Gemstone Carver, Patrick Dreher shared stories of his family’s five generations of rich history in Idar-Oberstein, Germany and its renown artistry of gem carving with attendees in Switzerland.
  • “Lab Grown Diamonds” were the focus of presenter Danny Baruch to members in St. Louis.
  • Social gatherings brought Houston, Louisiana, Malaysia and Toronto alumni, students and industry friends together.
  • Award-winning lapidary artist, Helen Serras-Herman spoke to an enthusiastic audience in Tucson.
A man and woman stand in front of a banner.
GIA Alumni Taiwan chapter hosted Ms. Sky Wei, GIA GG, who presented an update on the “Evolution and Development of Fei Cui & Jade Market.” Above, Taiwan chapter’s Jimmy Tsu, left, and presenter, Ms. Sky Wei. Photo Courtesy of Taiwan Chapter

Take Note of Upcoming Alumni Events

These special conference opportunities are available for GIA Alumni:

The 4th Mediterranean Gemmological and Jewellery Conference will take place May 18-20 in Budva, Montenegro. Conference organizers are extending a special discounted rate to GIA alumni worldwide. To learn more, visit the conference website to contact the organizers.

Northwest Jewelry Conference scheduled for Aug. 10-12, in Seattle, Washington (U.S) invites all alumni with interests in antique and estate jewelry to attend the entire conference or a special Friday night alumni event. This exclusive conference is limited to 50 attendees and offers an impressive speaker lineup. The 2018 conference will include jewelry historian Hazel Forsyth, who is recognized for her study and curation of the Cheapside Hoard. The conference organizers have coordinated with the Seattle alumni chapter for a special Friday evening event featuring Forsyth. Visit the website for more details.

Group shot of alumni.
Members of the Hong Kong chapter enjoyed an exclusive walk-through at Sotheby’s Auction Gallery to see some of the world’s most exquisite jewelry design masterpieces. Photo courtesy of Hong Kong Chapter

GIA Education and Networking Opportunities in Europe

Mark your calendars for these upcoming European trade fairs and GIA’s offerings at each. We hope to see you at these global activities:

GIA Gemfest Europe and Carat + Show in Antwerp (May 6-8) – Visit GIA representatives at the Carat + Show in Antwerp, Belgium for the latest information on GIA education, instruments and services. Also, join us at GIA Gemfest Europe, an educational presentation hosted by GIA and featuring a presentation by Tom Moses, GIA’s executive vice president and chief research and laboratory officer, on May 7.

GIA at GemGenève (May 10-13) – GIA will participate in the first-ever GemGenève International Geneva Gem & Jewellery Show, in Switzerland. Visit GIA representatives for the latest information on GIA education, instruments and services and make the most of the GIA Show Service Laboratory, available to accept and provide laboratory gem identification and country of origin report services on colored gemstones.

A group of people stand behind a table filled with GIA Alumni Association materials.
Monterrey Mexico Chapter members gather and enjoy GIA materials to support their studies. Photo courtesy of Monterrey Mexico Chapter

GIA’s Sixth-Ever International Gemological Symposium

Register to attend the GIA International Gemological Symposium, to be hosted in Carlsbad, California Oct. 7-9. Join industry members from around the globe. GIA Symposium reveals the discoveries, opportunities and insights that can move your businesses forward. Offering expert presentations, panel sessions and networking opportunities, Symposium unites scientists and business leaders to meet the challenges facing the gem and jewelry industry. Visit the website for more information on the symposium experience.

As an alumnus since 1989 and long-time volunteer chapter leader before working for GIA, I have always recognized and promoted the value of this incomparable alumni network. It has led to lifelong friendships, valuable advancements in my career and a focused link to what brought me to GIA in the first place: my passion for gems, jewelry and the knowledge and integrity behind this honored trade.

I hope you, as an alumnus, benefit from all of the programs and opportunities GIA provides.

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