By Brecken Branstrator
New York—The upcoming Accredited Gemologists Association Tucson conference will add several important topics to the education that abounds during the annual gem shows.

Scheduled for Wednesday, Feb. 5 at the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel, the event will feature industry veterans speaking on traceability, treatments, environmental mineralogy, education of artisanal miners and more.

Richard Hughes of Lotus Gemology will deliver a talk called “Jade: China’s Gift to The World,” delving into what the gem means to the Asian market, especially when it comes to its virtues.

The Smithsonian’s Jeffrey Post will discuss environmental mineralogy, which looks at how minerals interact with the ecosystem.

Swiss gem lab SSEF will also be present at the conference, with Laurent Cartier tackling the challenges and opportunities of tracing the origins of gemstones and pearls, including how new standards and technology can be combined with established standards and existing approaches, what it means for gemologists, and how they can be involved and contribute.

Aaron Palke, senior research scientist at the Gemological Institute of America, will share ongoing research being conducted on gems historically assumed to be untreated, particularly spinel and garnet.

The GIA’s Robert Weldon is going to talk about the lab’s ongoing gemological education of artisanal miners in East Africa. GIA has trained more than 1,000 miners already.

Weldon also will be honored with the AGA’s Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology this year.
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Meanwhile, Eric Fritz from the University of Arizona Gem and Mineral Museum will speak about organic gems—materials produced by organisms that have been cut into gems and other ornamental objects—including their identification and trade restrictions. He will highlight coral and ivory, and talk about how to handle organic gems presented for sale or reports.

There will also be two hands-on workshops.

Gemologist Claire Scragg will lead one on using a spectroscope, while Gem-A’s Sam Lloyd will take attendees through several filters, including why they’re used, how to use them and when to use them.

Early registration for AGA conference is available online through Jan. 28 and costs $195 for AGA and Gem-A members and $245 for non-members.

After the deadline, registrations at the door or online after are $230 and $280, respectively.

For more information, visit

The conference includes continental breakfast, a light lunch and the annual dinner gala, featuring networking opportunities, music and the presentation of the Bonanno Award.

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