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Gem Experts to Converge on AGA Tuscon Conference




(Press Release)
The Accredited Gemologists Association will present a day of educational topics at the Tucson Gem Fair, to be held at the University Park Marriott in Tuscon, AZ on Wednesday, Feb. 3. At the evening Gala, Dr. Cigdem Lule will be honored with the 2016 Antonio C. Bonanno Award For Excellence in Gemology.

“This year’s program offers our broadest spectrum of gem exploration,” says AGA President Stuart Robertson. “Be prepared to learn about both basic and advanced spectra applications and dust off your hand-held spectroscope to see how useful this tool can really be. We will look at some individual gems, the newest treatments and get the broad perspective of a world renowned authority on ruby and sapphire. We will also get a glimpse into one of the most spectacular crystal caves recently revealed.”

Daniel Nyfeler, managing director of the Gübelin Gem Lab in Lucerne, Switzerland, will present his research of geochronology and its potential use in country of origin determinations through his examination of potential gemological applications for LA-ICPMS (Laser Ablation Inductively Coupled Plasma Mass Spectrometry) technology. By discovering a gem’s chemical signature, Nyfeler can establish its geochronology and where in the world it came from – information that dealers, auctioneers and consumers may find useful.

While LA-ICPMS technology may be reserved for advanced laboratories, Gem-A senior instructor Claire Mitchell will bolster confidence in using the spectroscope with a dynamic hands-on presentation. This basic tool offers reliable evidence for gemstone identity, treatments and natural versus synthetic determination. Mitchell’s instruction will relieve the frustration many have experienced and rekindle its use in one’s gem ID arsenal.

One of the world’s preeminent experts on ruby and sapphire, Richard Hughes of Lotus Gem Lab, will take a step back and share his experiences of 37 years working with fine gems. His presentation, “Forests and Trees – Ten Lessons in Gemology” is an insightful look into this business from a unique perspective that will inspire students and practicing gemologists alike.

While surface-filled emeralds go back centuries, Arthur Groom, a leading authority on the subject, brings us up to speed on what other gems are now, and will soon be, enhanced through surface in-filling. Groom will explain research into matching potential substances with the gem being treated and the importance of disclosure at all levels. Examples for hands-on examination will be available.


“The Astonishing World of Opals” presents a tour to places and relationships you may not have expected with Andrew Cody, who has helped shape the nomenclature and appreciation of this unique gem. Opal is a huge, more complex family than most realize and Cody will explain the various types, attributes and the locations where they are found. He will also address the current demand and recent value increases in fine Australian opal.

Expert rock and ice climber/instructor Marc Beverly will present a look into the “Amazing Crystal Caves of Mexico” where he braved life-threatening conditions 1,000 feet underground to reveal football field-sized caverns with 35 foot-long crystals. As chronicled by National Geographic, this network of caves near Naica, Mexico was explored by Beverly and a team of scientists to discover not just the formations but the life existing within, both past and present. The stunning visuals will be a humbling close to the day’s presentations.

The evening Gala will recognize Dr. Cigdem Lule as the 2016 recipient of the Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology. Dr. Lule pioneered the field of archaeogemology, blending the fields of gemology with archeological techniques and has done extensive research on ancient gems, published by the British Museum. She is the special projects manager for Gem World International, developing and teaching gemstone workshops for the industry and was technical advisor for the color communication system, World of Color.

The AGA 2016 conference and Gala will be held at the University Park Marriott, located at 800 E. Second Street in Tucson, AZ. Conference check-in begins at 8:00 a.m. with sessions from 8:30 a.m. to 4:45 p.m. Continental breakfast, light lunch, champagne reception and the Gala awards banquet are included. Registration until Jan. 15 is $195 for AGA members/$245 for non-members. For those who can’t attend the conference, Gala-only tickets are also available at $75/$100.

The Accredited Gemologists Association is a professional peer society dedicated to promoting excellence in gemology through education and ethics. It hosts a yearly Tucson conference, mid-year Las Vegas conference and offers a Certified Gemological Laboratory credential to qualified laboratory/appraisers. More information is available at




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