In the past gemologists working in gemological laboratories only visited gemstone mining areas occasionally, however in December 2008 the GIA laboratory was the first to open a field-gemology department in a modern day laboratory. Ken Scarratt, Managing Director of the GIA laboratory in Bangkok employed Vincent Pardieu, a laboratory gemologist experienced in traveling to gemstones mining areas in Asia and Africa, to oversee and run the newly created department.
Bangkok and Thailand were ideal and logical choices for the department since GIA operates a state of the art gemological research laboratory in Bangkok and Thailand is currently the world’s most important ruby and sapphire trading center. Most of the present ruby production, and a large part of the sapphire production (mainly from Asian, Australian and African deposits), pass through Thailand in order to reach the world’s markets.
The focus of GIA’s Field Gemology department is now on ruby, sapphire and emerald as part of GIA’s research on the origin determination of gemstones. The main goals of GIA Field Gemologists are to plan and conduct gemological expeditions to selected gemstone mining areas around the world in order to collect valuable reference samples using GIA’s protocols. These samples are then fully documented and prepared at the GIA laboratory in Bangkok before being integrated into the GIA gemstone reference collection globally.
Besides collecting samples, visiting gemstone mining areas enables GIA field gemologists the opportunity to collect up-to-date information about gem mining which benefits the GIA and the gemstone industry as a whole. People from all walks of life who are interested in gemstones, and their often very exotic origins, find the field reports that follow such expeditions highly beneficial.
GIA field reports (video or written) form part of a series of simple yet informative reports that describe field-trips undertaken by GIA field gemologists in their quest to obtain specimens from mines producing a variety of gemstones throughout the world.