THE GIA

FIELDGEMOLOGY PROJECT

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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.

FIELD VIDEOS AND REPORTS
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About gemological research at GIA

For decades, GIA has been on the cutting edge of gemological research, analyzing data on gems and their characteristics. This work becomes more challenging every year, as new gem sources emerge and new treatment processes and synthetic materials come onto the market. If artificially enhanced gems and synthetics were left undetected, every gem and jewelry purchase would be a risk. GIA is dedicated to providing consumers with the knowledge they need, and that’s why research is at the very core of GIA’s nonprofit mission. (More about GIA at: http://www.gia.edu/gia-about)

About origin determination of gemstones at GIA

Most agree that geographic origin should not be used as a quality factor, as even the most renowned gem mining areas produce many low quality gems. Nevertheless like in art, for gems as for many other luxury items, geographic origin affects market value. It means that gems of equivalent beauty and quality but which were mined in different geographical areas might have a different market value based on their origin: Typically gems originating from famous and romantic traditional mining areas may have a higher market value compared to similar gems mined from a less glamorous and famous source. Besides romantic and marketing aspects, recently new legal and also ethical concerns appeared in several consumer markets. Thus GIA is offering origin determination services for several types of gemstones including ruby and sapphire, but also emeralds and tourmaline (see services< www.giathai.net/laboratory/lab-services/>). To provide the best possible service, research on the origin determination of gemstones is nowadays a very important part of gemological research at GIA. In December 2008, the GIA laboratory Bangkok was the first gemological laboratory to create a field gemology program. Its purpose is to collect reference samples on site at source using GIA protocols in order to build and update the best origin related gemstone reference collection for GIA researchers to work with during their daily work.

Note: Comments on the reports and their direction are warmly welcomed as are offers of collaboration. Please contact: giabkklab@gia.edu stating the name of the project and name(s) of the author(s).