New York—For only the second time in its 45-year history, the Accredited Gemologists Association will present the Bonanno Award to multiple recipients—four to be exact.

The Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology is given to people who have made important contributions to the field.

The 2019 award will go to: Donna Hawrelko, a gemology and jewelry program coordinator and instructor at Vancouver Community College, and president of the Canadian Gemmological Association; Alberto Scarani and Mikko Åström, co-founders of MAGI Labs; and renowned research gemologist Karl Schmetzer.

20190111 Donna HawrelkoDonna HawrelkoThe AGA is recognizing Hawrelko for her commitment to gemological education.

She is a leading figure in the international gemological community, developing course manuals and materials while teaching international students in the gemology and jewelry departments at Vancouver Community College, where she has been an instructor since 1992 and program coordinator since 2005.

Hawrelko also was instrumental in developing the Canadian Gemmological Association, serving as its chief examiner, director of education and stepping into the role of president in 2014.

She also is a past president of AGA.

The AGA is honoring Scarani and Åström for adapting advanced spectroscopy technology to the gemological field, making it accessible and affordable to all gemologists.

According to the AGA, their Gemmoraman system was a breakthrough for gemologists and appraisers, providing them portable and reliable Raman and Photoluminescence spectroscopy capabilities.

20190111 Alberto Scarani Mikko AstromAlberto Scarani, left, and Mikko Åström

Before this, the technology and database needed for the best results were accessible only through universities and major laboratories.

Schmetzer, meanwhile, is being honored for his more than 50 years of research in the mineralogical and gemological fields, and for sharing his discoveries. His body of work includes almost 400 papers, two books and presentations around the world.

He also has served in leadership roles in industry organizations, including CIBJO, to help raise professional standards for the global gem and jewelry industry.

20190111 Karl SchmetzerKarl SchmetzerThe AGA board said as it was analyzing votes for the award recipients, it concluded that each of the nominees had made outstanding contributions but in distinctly different areas of the gemstone sector.

As a result, the board decided to introduce an expanded award format to reflect the many facets of the gemstone field.

“After all, since its inception, the AGA has endeavored to recognize the people and pioneers who have made significant contributions in each of the areas in which the AGA has been active,” President Stuart Robertson said.

“So today, with such expanded activity in each of those areas—education, gemological research, gemological instrumentation, industry standards and consumer awareness—a single award is no longer sufficient.”

Past recipients of the Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology include Cigdem Lule, Thomas Hainschwang, Richard Hughes, Christopher Smith, James Shigley, Antoinette Matlins and the late G. Robert Crowningshield, among many others.

AGA will present this year’s winners with their awards at the gala/dinner/dance scheduled to take place Wednesday, Feb. 6 at the Tucson University Park Hotel, at the end of the AGA conference.

The award includes a personalized plaque and $2,000 honorarium funded by the AGA membership.

For more information or to attend the conference or gala, go to or call 844-288-4367.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on Jan. 14, 2019, to reflect that Donna Hawrelko became president of the CGA in 2014, not 2015, as was previously stated.

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