TWENTY VOLUMES ON – the first 50 years: A brief history of The Australian Gemmologist
By Dr Grahame Brown (Editor 1994-2008)

The Beginning

The inaugural issue of The Australian Gemmologist, the official journal of The Gemmological Association of Australia, was published during July 1958 by an Editorial Committee appointed by the then Victorian Branch of the association. In retrospect it is interesting to note that the Editorial of volume 1, number 1 provided future editors with six guiding aims for the journal that are just as applicable today as they were in 1958.

  • To create a scientific journal of gemmological interest.
  • To further interest in and study of gemstones, both within Australia and overseas.
  • To bring about a closer bond between gemmologists in Australia and to make their views known overseas.
  • To provide a discussion forum for controversial gemmological subjects.
  • To provide a suitable advertising medium for gemstones, minerals, jewellery, and allied goods.
  • To produce revenue for the G.A.A. to enable it to further its aims as stated in its Memorandum.

The 36 page first issue of The Australian Gemmologist, which was reprinted during 1998 to celebrate the journal’s 40th aniversary, contained three papers of gemmological substance:

  • ‘Gem inclusions through a x10 loupe’ by Arthur A. Wirth.
  • ‘Do we know enough … about diamonds’ by W.A. Catanach.
  • ‘Gemmology and the salesman’ by Stewart Morrow.

Editorial Committees and Editors

The Australian Gemmologist is produced by an Editorial Committee, whose members may belong to any Division. The Editor/Chair of the Editorial Committee is elected by Federal Council.

The Second Decade

By May 1968 Jack Oughton had replaced Geoff Tombs as Chair of the Editorial Committee and in the May 73 issue was appointed Editor. Following the death of J.H. Oughton, on the 13th January 1975, R.A. Ball and Miss O. Zimoch were appointed Joint Editors from the February 1975 issue. With the May 1976 issue Reg Ball became Editor/Chair, with the assistance of Joint Editors R. Powell and B. Chambers. Reg Ball resigned as Chair at the 1977 F.C.M, and as Editor at the 1978 F.C.M.

The Third and Fourth Decades

Reg Ball was replaced by R.A. (Ray) Powell, who became Editor/Chair and edited the November 1978 issue. By May 1980 Powell had been replaced by A.G. Kovacs as Chair, but continued as Acting Editor until responsibilities for publication of the journal were returned to Victoria by the 1981 F.C.M. For a few months C. Fisher was appointed Editor, to be followed in August 1981 by W.H. (Bill) Hicks. Twelve years of stability followed, during which time Bill Hicks proceeded to edit and progressively upgrade the standard of four volumes of the G.A.A.’s ‘window to the world’. Miss Patricia Callaway became Chair in July 1989, and following Bill’s death in November 1993 with the assistance of an Editorial Committee of Mrs N. Jamieson, Mrs C. Sutherland, and G. Brown continued to publish the journal until the 1994 F.C.M. At this meeting responsibilities for publication were once more transferred — this time to Brisbane, with Grahame Brown being appointed Editor/Chair.


Two hundred and twenty-four issues and fifty years on, The Australian Gemmologist has matured into a quarterly colour illustrated gemmological journal published by The Gemmological Association of Australia. The journal has a deserved international reputation for quality. That the journal still satisfies the six aims specified in the Editorial of Volume 1 Number 1 is a tribute to the dedication and professionalism of past Editors, Editorial Committee members, and of course contributors — past and present.