Though the end of the year is on near horizon, December is never a time to slow down in our industry. There’s a month of sales, service, preparing special orders and even getting ready for our important tradeshows at the start of the new year. In all of the chaos, however, I most appreciate the times we take to share our thanks and celebrate with our industry family – as well as our families and friends.
The positive spirit that is so often seen and shared this season is contagious, so in that spirit I’d like to share my appreciation for you, my fellow GIA Alumni Association members.
First, I want to thank the more than 200 alumni volunteers who work tirelessly throughout the year to coordinate valuable education and networking events for GIA Alumni chapters around the globe. The actions of these individuals directly help GIA serve its mission, by creating opportunities to deliver education, grow business relationships in their communities and provide a resource for like-minded professionals to come together in a shared effort to promote the integrity that is a cornerstone of the gem and jewelry industry. All of these actions serve to protect the buying public, the underlying goal of all of GIA’s work.
Second, I want to thank every individual and organization that has shared their time and expertise with our chapters. Your generosity enhances the knowledge of others and pays it forward.
Lastly, I applaud the loyal alumni and industry members who are committed to staying up to date on their gemological education. Attending GIA global alumni events and lectures, as well as reading gemological updates and news that affects our industry, improves your craft and makes it possible for you to act as stewards, ensuring a positive future of an industry where reputation is vital.
Before the end of 2016, our chapters will have hosted more than 200 events. I could not be more appreciative of the actions of the committed individuals who have shared the responsibilities to make these GIA Alumni events a success. Take a quick look at the more than 50 chapter events hosted by GIA Alumni Association chapters since September. You just may find a great idea for your next meeting.
- Party at the GIA Gem Mine: Cosmic Blast. Preparations are in full swing and the deadline of Dec. 31 to donate to the auction is weeks away. Tickets are selling fast – we hope to see you there!
- GIA 2016 Continuing Education Recognition Program participants – don’t forget to complete your eight lessons before Dec. 31 to be qualified to receive your credential.
- GIA’s Education Scholarship application period ended on Sept. 30 and more than 1,000 applications were received. Scholarship recipients will be notified shortly, offering more than 100 individuals GIA education opportunities around the globe. GIA accepts applications for scholarships two times each year, so get ready for the next application period, which is open Feb. 1 to March 31, 2017.
- A new chapter launched in Macau in September with a welcome presentation by GIA’s Dr. Wuyi Wang, director of research and development, who spoke on synthetic diamonds. The evening was also attended by additional GIA executive leadership, including Susan Jacques, president and CEO; Tom Moses, executive vice president and chief lab and research officer; Anna Martin, senior vice president of global development; and Seung-Hae Moon, managing director of Asia-Pacific education. Alumni from the new chapter and members of the Hong Kong alumni chapter attended.
- Bev Hori, senior vice president and chief learning officer, provided a market update and spotlight on synthetic diamonds in Seattle.
- Dr. James Shigley, distinguished research fellow, covered the latest news on research from GIA in Salt Lake City, Utah.
- John Koivula, analytical microscopist, shared a visual review educating attendees on treatments and synthetics – in Washington, D.C.
- Robert Weldon, manager of photography and visual communications, recounted his 2015 journey to Colombia, retracing the steps of explorer and miner Peter Rainier, who is credited with rediscovering the Chivor emerald mine in the 1920s, for the San Diego and London chapters. (See Weldon’s article on the topic, which was featured in the Summer 2016 issue of Gems & Gemology.)
- Edward Johnson, director global business development in Europe, and I connected with European alumni at the Munich show and at a reception hosted by the Germany chapter in October.
- Synthetic diamonds in the jewelry market was discussed at seven chapter events in September. Gary Roskin, author, adjunct professor and executive director of International Colored Stone Association (ICA) spoke on the topic of identifying gem-quality synthetic diamonds to the New England and Washington, D.C. chapters.
- Hands-on gemological sessions remain popular continuing education event for our chapters, including identifying and evaluating Australian opals in London. Participating members of the Twin Cities chapter completed their three-session 2016 Year of Corundum study group.
- Colored gemstone interest is extensive among chapters across the globe:
Doug Hucker, CEO of the American Gem Trade Association, provided insight on how to sell more color with the Michigan members.
Ron Ringsrud shared his decades of experience and expertise on Colombian emeralds at a Metro-Phoenix meeting.
Evan Caplan, procurer of rare and exotic fine gemstones, educated Golden Gate chapter attendees with a talk on alexandrite, including sources, pricing, trends and identification.
Gemstone dealer Brian Cook presented the “Thrill of Brazil” at events in Houston and California Golden Gate.
Renee Newman, a noted author and lecturer, shared the rarity and market opportunities related to exotic gemstones at a North Carolina event.
Chapter leaders provided an overview of ruby to attendees in Monterrey, Mexico.
- Pearls and other organic gem materials were presented by Eric Fritz at Florida Gulf Coast.
- An exclusive “pre” preview of the Contemporary Designer Jewels Signature Auction, featured at Heritage Auction House, was experienced by our alums before the general public had the opportunity to see it in Los Angeles.
- Jewelry pricing and history were points of interest in several chapters, including international auction house diamond prices in Mexico City and the history of the wedding ring at California Golden Gate.
- Photography tips were the topic presented by renowned mineral photographer, Jeff Scovil, at Colorado Mile High.
- Lapidary interests were covered by award-winning gemstone cutters and artists Naomi Sarna and Dalan Hargrave (both multi-award winners of AGTA Spectrum awards) in Houston and Manhattan. Famed Idar-Oberstein gemstone carver Patrick Dreher, of the House of Dreher, shared history and the craft of his family, which dates back five generations, at a San Diego event.
- The fourth and final segment of the film documentary “Masters of Dreams” completed the chapter’s Gema Cinema series in Monterrey, Mexico.
- A tour and visit to Kelsey Museum of Archaeology provided a special opportunity for a hands-on inspection of a selection of exhibit objects, including coins, jewelry and other ancient precious metals, for Michigan chapter members.
- A mine tour excursion to the Oceanview Mine was cohosted by the San Diego and Los Angeles chapters.
- An Illinois/Indiana road trip to the largest showroom of gemstone beads in the Midwest included a lecture on the value of staying current with gemological education and understanding quality and pricing.
- Local networking socials were successful in Georgia, North Carolina, Vancouver, London, Malaysia, Toronto and California Golden Gate. Sri Lanka hosted members from Malaysia and Taiwan, and San Diego welcomed folks visiting Southern California for GIA’s Gem and Jewelry Career Fair, in Carlsbad.
I wish all our alumni a very happy and successful year end and encourage you to stay in touch with GIA through the alumni department. There are new changes coming in the New Year and we want you to make the most of the advantages and benefits available to you.