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AGA Announces Program for Tucson Conference




It’s set for Jan. 31.

(Press Release) The Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA), a non-profit organization promoting gemological education and ethics through its worldwide membership, has announced a robust program for its annual Tucson Gem Fair conference, which will take place Wednesday, Jan. 31, 2018, at the Tucson University Park Hotel. A day of authoritative gemological presentations and multiple workshop options will be followed by a champagne reception and evening gala dinner dance, highlighted by the presentation of the Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology. AGA also announced the return of its silent auction.

With the trade placing significant emphasis on gem origin, this AGA conference will tackle the resulting impact, focusing on such issues as reliable determination, varying opinions and dealing with the resulting confusion. Shane McClure and/or Andy Lucas of the Gemological Institute of America will show attendees identifying characteristics that lead to origin determination in emeralds, including those that contradict previously held ideas on what to look for. McClure is the global director of colored stone services for GIA and the 2007 Bonanno Award winner. Lucas is the manager for field gemology at GIA.

Dr. Çiğdem Lüle will examine how laboratories have adopted terms related to origin as well as other descriptors now used to associate quality both to the trade and consumer. Lule is a research gemologist, mineralogist and owner of Kybele LLC, a consultancy firm specializing in tailored education. She was the recipient of the 2016 Bonanno Award.

Advances in scientific equipment sensitivity continue to provide important discoveries to the gemological community and Dr. John Emmett will elaborate on his recently published research surrounding previously unknown factors influencing color with specific experimentation on Yogo sapphires. Emmett, owner of Crystal Chemistry, is a world-renowned expert on corundum and its treatments. He was the 2014 Bonanno Award recipient.

Dr. Thomas Hainschwang will provide his first data, results and conclusions of an extensive research project underway on diamond treatments. This massive project involves before and after data on diamonds subjected to radiation, HTHP and annealing. This research is being aided by an AGA research grant. Hainschwang, director of GGTL Laboratories and Gemlab in Liechtenstein, was also the recipient of the 2015 Bonanno Award.

Sonny Pope will provide an update on the new fancy colors being produced in naturally occurring diamonds through proprietary HPHT techniques developed by Suncrest Diamonds. Pope is a chemical engineer and one of the pioneers in the development of processes that de-colorize or transform color in diamond. As manager of Suncrest, he oversees the treatment of diamonds submitted by clients worldwide.


Last year’s success of Claire Mitchell’s small-group workshop has led to the offering of three to choose from in 2018. Alan Hodgkinson will present a 90 minute workshop on his decades-long development of Visual Optics. Hodgkinson was the first Bonanno Award recipient in 2000 and has an unchallenged reputation as one of the field’s preeminent educators (limit 10). Claire Mitchell of Gem-A will be conducting a 60 minute workshop on U.V. Fluorescence as a Diagnostic Tool (limit: 20 ) and Sarah Steel, a specialist in thermoset and thermoplastic organic materials of 19th century, will conduct a 60 minute workshop on distinguishing black gem materials (limit: 20).

Workshop sing-up is available after conference registration on a first come basis, until filled. For those not registered in a workshop, Nathan Renfro, GIA’s analytical manager for gem identification, will present a visual tour of gem microscopy pointing out inclusions specific to the determination of treatment, origin and sometimes gem varieties.

Registration and other information is available at



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