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The AGA Conference...

Where great minds meet!

John Koivula and Richard Hughes at the AGA Gala

2020 AGA Tucson Conference

Awareness of Our Gem Environment and People

Challenges in Technology and Culture

We learned from these heavy hitters...

Richard Hughes

Richard Hughes, FGA , Lotus Gemology (bio)

Jade: China's Gift to The World

We got a glimpse into the true essence of what jade means to the Asian market. Westerners look to jade's color and gemological properties but Asians look to jade's virtues. The Hetian "mutton fat" nephrite jade of western China can have enormous value and Dick enlightened us to this important gem and the master carvers who bring it to life. Some of the treatments to jades and their detections were also addressed.

Dr. Jeffrey Post

Dr. Jeffrey Post, Smithsonian (bio)

Environmental Mineralogy - A Study for the Survival of the Planet

The ubiquitous minerals and oxides beneath our feet and in our waters have an impact on our well-being. Our interactions affect the planet as a whole and our lives, in particular. Dr. Post explored this fascinating newer science with some of the tools only recently available for their complex analysis. He also treated us to a look at some of the gem additions to our National collection at the Smithsonian.

Dr. Laurent E. Cartier

Dr. Laurent E. Cartier, SSEF (bio)

Traceability of Gemstones and Pearls - Challenges & Opportunities

Due diligence, tracking and traceability have moved to the forefront of the gem and jewelry world. The public, banking institutions seeking to reduce risk, and the governments of many gem-producing countries are all demanding detailed information and greater transparency, at each step of the journey from the mine to the finished jewel. New standards and associated technology could be augmented by combining them with established standards and existing gemmological approaches like geographical origin, DNA fingerprinting of corals, ivory and pearls, & detection of synthetics could lead to new and more effective testing protocols. This presentation focused on what this means for gemologists and how they can be involved in the process and contribute to making greater transparency and traceability a reality.

Dr. Aaron Palke

Dr. Aaron Palke, Senior Research Scientist, GIA (bio)

Treatments of Spinel & Garnet

Gems historically assumed to be untreated are now being re-examined with some very interesting discoveries. Dr. Aaron Palke shared ongoing research being conducted, particularly on spinels and garnets. Through its treatment of gems at various temperature levels, GIA is cataloging changes to internal features and other measured responses. This preemptive approach allows GIA to better determine what treatment has occurred to stones submitted to the lab.

Robert Weldon, GIA

Robert Weldon,

The ongoing project of educating artisanal miners of East Africa about the stones they recover has put valuable information into the hands of the people whose livelihood depends on mining gemstones.

This program has seen immediate results for the over 1000 miners already trained. Miners are now able to bargain better with their buyers and return more money to their families and communities. The social impact of the project has been enormous and exposure to the supply chain has opened up other opportunities for miners, such as gem cutting and jewelry manufacture.

Eric Fritz

Eric Fritz, FGA, DG, University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum (bio)

Organics - Identification and trade restrictions

Organic gems – with coral and ivory was highlighted for type identification and how to handle material presented for sale or reports. Hands on examination furthered our knowledge and appreciation of organic materials from Eric's extensive collection.


Hands on workshops!!!

Sam Lloyd

Sam Lloyd, FGA EG, Gem-A (bio)

Gem-Fun With Filters!

This hands-on workshop guided us through some of Gem-A's favourite filters, explaining why we use them, how to use them and which one to use when! This workshop was perfect for gemmologists that are just getting started with filters and for those looking for a refresher.


Claire Scragg

Claire Scragg, FGA (bio)

Use your Spectroscope - Reading between the lines

We worked on getting over our spectroscope fears and learning some trade secrets from this leading expert. A spectroscope is one of the most valuable instruments in the trade and it can travel in your pocket! We learned how to coax those little lines which can reveal a stone's identity where other instruments fail.

Read between the lines

This conference was held February 5, 2020 at the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel Conference Center, 880 E. Second Street, Tucson, AZ 85719

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