Success Stories


Terrence Stewart Coldham

Born Brisbane Australia 1945. Health Good. Keen traveler and collector with an eye for detailed investigation. Hobbies include camping, fishing, travel.

At a very young age started collecting rocks and crystal, buying my first collection of gem minerals at eight years old, 56 years later every piece remains in my collection. Whilst in high school I was fortunate to be taught faceting and by the age of sixteen owned my first faceting machine. After finishing school started working for a Retail Jewellery Chain and it was here that I “discovered” the Gemmological Association of Australia leading to a continous membership to date of forty four years. I completed their Diploma of Gemmology and became a Fellow of the Gemmological Aussociation of Australia in 1966. I then joined Pan Pacific Products a Sydney based company dealing in rough and cut sapphire. For three years I assisted the principle in buying rough sapphire in Northern New South Wales and selling cut sapphire to the jewellers in Sydney and Melbourne.

After three years I decided to enroll in Macquarie University to study geology. I was fortunate enough to be able to study “full time” financed by holiday employment as a marketing manager of rough sapphire for a fledging sapphire miner using the specialized knowledge I had gained with Pan Pacific Products. During my three years at University there was a huge expansion of the Australian Sapphire Mining Industry due to an ever increasing number of Thai rough buyers.

In 1972 gained my Bachelor of Arts majoring in Mineralogy and Petrology (At the time equivalent to a BSc.). I then went into full time employment as a the manager of a sapphire mining operation called Giltspur Gems & Minerals N.L. based at Glen Innes in Northern NSW. There I was responsible for managing the prospecting for three alluvial sapphire mines as well as sorting, grading and selling of the sapphire production. It was here that I started building close relationships with the buyers from Thailand that last to this day. It was also when I first realized that almost all Australian sapphire was heat treated to improve clarity. My studies at University made me well versed in the principles of exsolution in minerals and the Thai buyers let slip that they could improve the appearance of the rough sapphire by the application of heat. I put two and two together and built my first furnace which failed to produce any tangible results.

Giltspur had some severe problems at board level so I took my new bride and set up a business of cutting gemstones in an old rented farmhouse. This was also a failure and as my ne wife was expecting I decided to seek employment. Late in 1974 I found a position as Marketing Manager of Dominion Mining N.L. at Inverell. At that time they were the biggest sapphire miners in Australia and I had the responsibility of managing the sorting, grading and selling of their rough production. During my time with Dominion I made several trips to Thailand resulting in Dominion entering into a joint venture with a Thai group to process and then market the company’s production in Thailand. My wife and son and I spent almost a year living in Bangkok working on this project which was just showing signs of success when a major financial crisis caused the company to pull out of the arrangement.

In 1978 I was offered a newly formed position as Executive Officer of the Gemmological Association of Australia (NSW Branch). The position was an experimental one and only lasted one year, it did however bring me back to Sydney where I started my own company with a stock of a few ounces of rough sapphire and six cut ones.

The company was named Sapphex Pty Ltd operating as wholesaler of rough and cut Australian sapphire and employing three lapidaries processing primarily Australian rough sapphire. During the period 1978 to 1983 I spent considerable time travelling in Thailand and Sri Lanka buying rough and learning all I could about the gemstone industry and in particular the heat treatment of sapphire. During the period I also worked with Mr. N.E. Jewell in the preparation of mining tender applications in Sri Lanka under the Mahavelli Irrigation Scheme.

Sapphex Pty Ltd grew during that time and started a retail outlet specializing in jewellery repairs and valuations.

By 1987 the company was wholesaling a wide variety of gemstones and had established it’s own small lapidary in Bangkok. I sold the retail arm of the business to concentrate on the processing and wholesaling operations.

In 1984 I started doing some part time consultancy work for T.J. & P.V. Nunan who at the time were the largest sapphire mining operation in the world. Initially I assisted with grading and assessment methods for the rough production and then moved on to running trials and experimentation with heat treatment methods using a wide variety of furnace types. I was also involved in the coordination of a major scientific study of the heat treatment of Australian Sapphires funded by Nunans and undertaken by the University of Technology in Sydney. I was involved in the assessment of sapphire deposits in Laos for Nunan Sapphire International and a Thai syndicate and this in turn led to me advising the Thai company Nakorn Gems L.P. in the setting up of modern performing equipment.

During the period 1987 to 1990 I spent considerable time in Sri Lanka planning and then creating a modern gemstone cutting factory in Sri Lanka employing over 160 personal cutting calibrated Australian Sapphire. All processing steps were “in house”, from the sorting of rough, through treatment to the grading, pricing and marketing of the cut production.

Nunan sold his business to Great Northern Mining in 1991 and I returned my attention back to Sapphex concentrating on building the wholesale gemstone sales in Australia.

Also in 1991 I joined with a Thai syndicate forming a joint venture with the local authorities in Yunnan province Peoples Republic of China to prospect with the intention of mining ruby deposits near the Red River in Southern Yunnan Province. This project was finalized in 1996 and whilst fine quality ruby was found there weren’t sufficient quantities for commercial mining.

For the last decade Sapphex Pty Ltd has grown to become a comprehensive source for all types coloured gemstones supplying the Australian Jewellery Industry’s needs through offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Adelaide.

Over the years I have been involved in many industry and gemological bodies.

Currently: President of the Gemmological Association of Australia (NSW Branch). Trustee of the Gemmological Association of Australia (NSW Branch). Director and Council member of the Gemmological Association of Australia CBJO representative for the Gemmological Association of Australia Gemmology lecturer

Chairman of the Australian Jewellery and Gemstone Industry Council and representative for the Gemmological Association of Australia

International Colored Gemstone Association member and Australia Ambassador

Member of the Jewellers Association of Australia Member of the Gold and Silversmiths Association of Australia Member of the Gemmological Association of Hong Kong Member of the Mineralogical Association of Australia Member of the Gemological Institute of America Alumni Association

Previously: President, Vice President and management committee member of the Gemmological Association of Australia (NSW Branch). Secretary Board of the Federal Board of Studies and Examinations of the Gemmological Association of Australia Board Member NSW Branch Jewellers Association of Australia Associate of the Australian Museum Member of the Australian Museum Geodiversity Group Director of the Jewellery and Allied Trades Valuers Council

Other Industry Activities:
198? IGC Responsible for the organization of a three day tour to the New South Wales opal and sapphire fields 2000 ICA. Responsible for the organization of a six day tour of the Australian gemstone mines and pearl farms.




Steven Milonas

Summing up my career in a couple of paragraphs is not always easy but there are the highlights which seem to stand out in ones mind.

Just recently I completed my certificate in gemmology; a task I had been wanting to undertake for a long time and, having been in the jewellery industry twelve years it was time I concreted my passion for gems and jewellery.

I had always taken a keen interest in jewellery as a youngster and having had family members in the industry I attended gem shows from the age of six or seven collecting rocks and crystals, not for their chemical composition but, for a kid of six, just because they looked ‘awesome’.

As a keen art student, I honed my talents at high school where I hoped I would study graphic design at university, but instead ended up studying marketing where my design skills were still useful. While at college I met a good friend in the jewellery industry who upon seeing my knowledge, offered me a job which I eagerly accepted. With several weeks training from superiors I was thrust into the industry, loving every minute and working in a fabulous environment that felt just ‘me’.

As time went by consultation with clients became more involved and I found myself not only selling but designing bespoke items and this is where my graphics skills played a huge role. At the time the jewellery house I was employed by had three boutiques across Melbourne so when all the other staff members caught on to what I was doing that was the launching pad for me becoming designer to the firm.

Ten years on my role had become very demanding, designing and consulting to clients while designing private collections behind the scenes as well as input in company advertising. As much as I thrived on the adrenalin of working with amazing products and companies I was now married and had started a family and my role at the company had really come full circle. I felt it was time to learn about other aspects of the industry and so I accepted employment at the French Jewel Box, a long standing jewellery establishment servicing the antique jewellery sector of the industry, owned and run by Mary Louise Walsh; a leading member of the jewellery community, a gemmologist, registered valuer and specialist in antique and vintage jewellery.

Under her guidance I have learnt an in depth knowledge of how jewellery used to be produced in periods long past, creating for myself a solid basis for understanding the more technical side to designing jewellery.

My role at present is still one of designer but also extends to the care and restoration of existing jewels and that is where my gemmology skills really play a huge part; ie. the diagnosis of treatments of particular gem materials and their authenticity. The role is challenging but equally rewarding. I hear of so many unnecessary ‘faux pas’ made in the trade and that is why I chose to study gemmology, to refine my knowledge in order to move forward and become more professional in the trade I love.

Ed. Congratulations to Steven on winning the Jewellers Association prize for top trade student.


Audrey Toth

GAA study

Diploma in gemmology (i have just completed my 1st year.)

Any other area of study

Jewellery manufacturing at Enmore TAFE 3rd yr, hand engraving at Enmore TAFE

Why did you choose to study gemmology?

I wanted to expand my understanding and knowledge in areas that would complement my skills and work.

What do you enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry?

I like that I get to meet interesting people every day and always have something new to learn from them.

How did the GAA help you in your career?

The GAA course has given more confidence at work with the products that I handle.

What do you like most about your job?

I like to work with my hands, when it is finished and I know that I have put my own unique touches to the job.

Career highlight: To be able to work flexibly and independently.

I wish I hadn’t…. waited so long to start my apprenticeship and study gemmology.

My favorite gadget is………my camera.

Its not fashionable but I love…. wall paper.

I am always being asked to…..make something for people like drawings, designs, logos, paintings, jewellery.

I often wonder…. where I will be in 20 yrs from now.

Favorite gem….tanzanite.

Dream job…. sculptor

My friends say that I am……creative.


Chris Holdsworth

Current job: Owner of three retail jewellery shops in Melbourne.

Any other interesting gem jobs before this one? I’ve always worked in the family business. I’ve had enough ‘interesting gem jobs’ in that role already to last a lifetime.

GAA study: Diploma of Gemmology/Certificate IV in Gemmological Studies (1999), Diploma of Diamond Technology (1999), National Council of Jewellery Valuers’ Valuers Course, (2001), Synthetic and Gemmology (2004), Advanced Pearl (2004) and Advanced Diamond Grading (2005).
Any other area of study? Bachelor of Commerce (1998), Fellow of the Gemmological Association UK (2000), Bachelor of Science, current.

Why did you choose to study gemmology? I always thought that I would end up in the family business. It was an easy place to fall into as I had worked there since I was fourteen in one capacity or another. Gemmology was a natural progression and necessary to ensure you knew what you were buying (and selling). There are lots of lesser-known gemstones that you discover are beautiful and knowing about them provides a commercial advantage.

Gemmology is typically about discovery, every day you are given an unknown stone that you need to identify. It can be like detective work using various tests to eliminate possibilities to uncover a stones true identity. Its precise work and as there is only ever one answer you have to be either right or wrong.

What do enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry? I like to think I’m good at what I do, and I gain a lot of satisfaction from providing an exceptional customer experience over run of the mill jewellers. I enjoy the challenge of ensuring that our staff are well educated and can demonstrate that to potential customers, and I enjoy the challenge of ensuring they are supported by beautiful and high quality jewellery.

How did the GAA help you in your career? I think the GAA is a terrific organisation, and one which I am quite involved in as a customer and as a volunteer. Obviously the education side has been of huge benefit, but the greatest help has been in meeting the people. The type of person that becomes involved with the GAA is always someone you want to know. Apart from being very personable they are all experts in their own area and knowing them means there is always someone you can turn to for advice on anything.


Darren Daley

What is your current job? Jeweller and valuer in regional Victoria

What did you study at the Gemmological Association of Australia?Diploma Gemmology, Diploma Diamond Technology,Practical Diamond Grading (which I now teach),Advanced Pearl, Advanced Opal, Advanced Diamond Grading, Jewellery and Gemstone Valuation.

Did you do any other study?Have done lots of study, most recently Cert IV Training and assessment, enrolled currently in Diploma of VET.

Why did you choose to study gemmology?Initially did gemmology to become a registered valuer, but found that it wasthemost surprising, taxing, enjoyable and life changing thing I have ever done. I got to meet some of the best people in the jewellery or any industry…many whom I count amongst my best friends.

What do enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry?On most occasions it is wonderful because people come to deal with you for happy events. I love to play with unusual gemstones and make interesting one off pieces.I just love to see my clients leave happy.

How did the GAA help you in your career? The GAA has helped me by introducing me to people I would have been most unlikely to meet, people I can turn to if I need advice, or assistance, not only with gems, but in the industry as a whole. The wealth of knowledge by the members of the GAA about all aspects of the jewellery and gemstone is probably one of the more unexpected avenues with which the GAA has helpedmy career. Being involved on councils, teaching, and the like has allowed me to stay current, as best I can a few hundred kilometres from Melbourne, with new gem sources, treatments and the like that would never have happened if I had not been involved with the GAA.

Career highlight?Can not really think of a standout, probably gaining friendship and respect from people that I admire…Favourite gem?Would have to be fine quality Ruby or Red Burmese Spinel…hmmm

Best kept secret gem?Spinel and Tourmaline, the colour varieties and durability are greatly underestimated.

What do you consider the most overrated value?Clarity in Diamonds.

Favourite gadget?My I-pod

What is your most treasured possession?My dog Seymour, without question

What word or phrase do you most overuse?Ummmm…
The hardest thing you have ever done?Diamond Technology, also the most rewarding.
What is your greatest extravagance?My limited edition aviation prints and signatures of famous pilots, in addition to my collection of unmade model kits (yes I am a nerd).If you could change one thing about yourself what would it be?My height, anextra 10-15cms would be nice…

What is your dream job? Don’t really have one…maybe something to do with photography where travel is involved…butis not that big an ambition


Jacinta Childs

What is your current job? Jewellery Designer

What did you study at the GAA? Cert IV of Gemmological Studies, diamond grading, Jewellery sketching.

Did you do any other study – one course on using Rhinoceros CAD program

Why did you choose to study gemmology? I did gemmology because I wanted to have a better knowledge of the items I deal with every day and to feel confident to tell customers the right information.

What do you enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry? to work with some lovely people, work with some of the most gorgeous stones and to design beautiful jewellery.
How did the GAA help you in your career – it helped me with confidence on selling

What do you like most about your job? – meeting new people every day.

Career Highlight – winning the 2006 JAA national design award above $5000
Favourite gem – Yellow diamonds and Pearls
Best kept secret gem – Morganite (I love the colour and I think not many people know about it

What do you consider the most overrate value in the gemstone world? I think every gemstone has its value for a reason and i think they are all reasonable for why they are like that eg -alexandrite because of its colour change

Favourite gadget you use related to gemstones – Microscope

What is you most treasured possession? – my ability to draw jewellery (in the industry) -1 like that it makes people happy, outside the industry my family.

What is your greatest business or hobby extravagance? -1 keep buying jewellery.
If you could change one thing about the hobby world or jewellery industry what would it be – for clients to be told more information to understand more about the gemstones themselves. I think if you give your clients enough information then they appreciate you wanting to share interesting information.

What is your dream job? -1 am in my dream job.
Thank you Jacinta


Kareena Newton

GAA Position? Curator of Specimens and Federal Alternative

What is your current job? Production Manager with Larsen Jewellery

What did you study at the Gemmological Association of Australia? Diploma in Gemmology

Did you do any other study? Jewellery Manufacturing at TAFE

Why did you choose to study gemmology? To further my understanding of gemstones

What do enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry? Being surrounded by
passionate people and educating the customers about different gemstones.

How did the GAA help you in your career? Gave me a greater understanding and a good
networking opportunity.

How long have you been a member of the GAA? 3 years

What do you like most about your job? Helping people design the perfect engagement ring &
seeing their joy when they collect it at the end and it is exactly as they pictured it.
Career highlight? As my career isn’t over I can’t name just one.

Favourite gem, and why? Tourmaline, because nature puts such beautiful colours together and we still don’t understand why or how.

Best kept secret gem? Spinel

Favourite gadget? Microscope

What is your dream job? To be like Vincent Pardieu, a Field Gemmologist.

I wish I hadn’t………… Wastedtimelistened to so much negative talk from older cynical jewellers, who said I couldn’t.
My favourite gadget is…………</strong >Microscope, I love seeing those special inclusions like 3 phasein quartz or EnhydroQuartz.
It’s not fashionable but I love…… My Family
I am always being asked to ………. Tellcustomers where certain gemstones originatefrom.
I often wonder…………… How much more the earth has to give until there is no more minerals for us to unearth.
I am very good at …………. Makingand designing jewellery.
Friends say I am………….. Creative and Fun


Peter Cartwright

After more than25 years in the automotive industry looking after Italian Automobili, I attended the Introduction to Gemmology course at the GAA in 1999.This was to significantly change my life.

I could see that there was so much to interest me in Gemmology;I was awestruck by the beauty of the gemstones that I had never seen before. I marvelled at the ingenuity of scientists in producing convincing synthetics, of which I had never heard of before.

In 2000, Practical Diamond Grading presented somewhat of a new challenge to me, “So what!” I thought, that there was such a subtledifference in the colour of a diamond, that there was a tiny inclusion that needed to be observed only by microscopic examination, that this had such a profound effect on its price. But then, it had such a profound effect on me.The enthusiasm of Suzie Robson, Jennie King and Bill Sechos was so inspiring that they were to influencemy future.

I had now entered a new world that captured my imagination, the moreI wondered about this new-foundinterest, the more I was drawn to commit myself tothe awesome challenge of devoting two years to the GAA Gemmology course, passing with a credit in 2002.

Of course, I couldn’tgetenough, I then went on to the even more awesome challenge of the Diploma of Diamond Technology of which I also passed with a creditin 2003, then the achievement of becoming a registered valuerin 2004.

All this meant nothing unless I could repay the efforts that my teachers and mentors had given me. The most thrilling moment came when I was asked to be a demonstratorin the Lab and given the opportunity to lecture in theory classes. I have now been a prac demonstratorsince 2003, and givenmany theory lectures.

Also to try to repay an Association that hasgiven me so much, I became a member of the NSW committee in 2004.

During my courses, I instantly loved the instruments and all the other “toys” that we used in the lab to identify the gemstones, I became interested in Gem testing instruments and as chance happened, I was offered the opportunity byA. KrüssOptronic, a German manufacturerof optical instruments since 1796,to promote theirinstruments in Australia.At about the same time, I was given the responsibility of being Curator of Instruments as part of my duties as a committee member.

Nothing has given me greater pleasure, a sense of belonging and a feeling of achievement than that of being involved in such a dynamic association thatwe have in the GAA.

I look forward to being a part of the growth of the GAA, and to be able to contribute to the recognition that the GAA rightly deserves within the jewellery and gemstone industry in Australia.

And I still have room to love Italiano Automobili.


Hugh Kronenberg

FGA, FGAA, Diploma of Diamond Technology
2108 Sutherland Award Winner

Name: Hugh Kronenberg

What is your current job?
I am a gem merchant, selling Sri Lankan sapphires, as well as emeralds and rubies. I have sold to clients in Australia, Asia and the middle East.

What did you study at the Gemmological Association of Australia?
I studied Gemmology in the intensive mode, followed by passing my British Gemmology Association exams, then Diamond Grading and recently Diamond Technology.

What did you think of the course?
I really enjoyed Gemmology and had some great demonstrators, who have become friends. The Diamond Tech course I recently completed was great fun.

Did you do any other study?
I’m studying Mandarin at the moment, but my first degree was English Honours at Sydney Uni, followed by Psychology at Macquarie. I worked in Advertising as a Creative Director before catching the gemmology bug.

Why did you choose to study gemmology?
My family was getting tired of me constantly looking in jewellery shop windows, so I decided it was time I actually knew what I was looking at.

What do enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry?
I really enjoy closing a deal on a breathtaking gem. It’s really exciting to stand in a dusty backstreet and have something so beautiful shining in your hand.

How did the GAA help you?
Their courses are excellent and there’s a good camaraderie.

What do you like most about your job?
I enjoy the travel and meeting people.

Favourite gem?
Today it’s an antique cushion shaped 20 carat Tanzanite, cut for perfect blue.

Favourite gadget you use related to gemstones?
It’s got to be my loupe.

What is your most treasured possession?
I have a Maori club, called a mere pounamu. It’s made of a rare a type of Greenstone called Kahurangi, which means ‘clear sky’ in the Maori language. It was sourced from the Arahura river on the west coast of the South Island.

What is your greatest business or hobby extravagance?
I spend 100 nights every year in hotels.

Best part of your job?
The friends I’ve made.

Hardest part?
Travelling can be exhausting.

What personal qualities do you need to succeed?
I think you need a real passion for beautiful pieces. I was once told ‘always buy the best that you can afford’. My only regrets are when I’ve not listened to that advice and missed out on special pieces.

Best kept secret gem?
In Western cultures it’s probably jade. I’ve been spending a lot of time learning to appreciate it. My favourite is river jade, white nephrite from rivers in Xinjiang province in western China.

I wish I hadn’t…
Chickened out when a Sri Lankan miner wanted $3000 per carat for a 7 carat perfect stone. I saw an identical piece recently for $35,000 per carat.

My favourite gadget is…
A tiny Spyderco knife on my keyring, made of steel from Seki in Japan, the home of Samurai swords.

It’s not fashionable but I love…
Cat’s eye chrysoberyl.

I am always being asked to…
Give opinions on the relative quality of two equally amazing pieces.

I often wonder…
What it would have been like to travel to India with Tavernier, the seventeenth century French diamond merchant.

I am very good at…
Helping people understand just what’s so special about the gem in their hand.

Friends say I am…
Carried away by details.

Favourite gem?
Golconda diamonds

Dream job:
I’d love to either be a gem buyer for a major jewellery house or to work for a high end jeweller bringing knowledge and enthusiasm to selling incredible pieces.

Stones are about love. As rewards for yourself or gifts for someone you love. It starts with passion, and ends with passion.


Elizabeth Hoy

NSW Committee Member

Self employed as a jewellery valuer, Kareli Valuation Service, for 12 years

As a child I collected rocks, had a microscope, and made jewellery out of shells and beads. In high school I had a lucrative business making and selling belts and accessories.

I wanted to work with my hands in a creative field, and to continue learning after leaving school but was not interested in university, so when my art teacher suggested jewellery making as a career path in Year 11, I promptly left school to pursue it. I first studied jewellery design at TAFE but realised after the first year that learning how to make jewellery would be more beneficial, so I found an apprenticeship. This was in the days before the design and trade courses were under the same roof, jewellery was lumped in with the metalworking trades back then.

Unfortunately, after topping my trade course class, I couldn’t continue bench work as a neck problem was becoming progressively worse. So I changed direction and worked in the retail side, designed engagement rings, and studied gemmology. There I formed some friendships which continue to this day, and we combined study with social activities so I immensely enjoyed this course.

By then I was working as a workshop manager, which utilised my knowledge of manufacturing and gemstones, and experience in design and customer service. I continued studying short courses at GAA, completing the diamond grading and jewellery valuation courses, and various modules including Opals and Pearls. I had also started demonstrating Gem II practical classes, which gave me great satisfaction for over 10 years, and also kept me in touch with the ever-changing world of gemstones.

In 1997 I started my own valuation business, which was a big step but I felt prepared for it. The GAA courses not only gave me credibility but confidence as well.

A few years ago I decided to re-ignite the creative spark that had led me to the jewellery trade in the first place, and I was in a position to take time out and gain further qualifications. However the proposed university degree in gemmology, which I was keen to do, did not eventuate. So instead I have been studying filmmaking (attaining a Certificate IV in Screen), and various forms of writing including screenwriting and journalism article writing.

Ideally in the future I will be able to combine my 25 years of experience and knowledge of jewellery, diamonds and gemstones, with my new skills and training.


Kathryn Wyatt BSc FGAA DipDT NCJV Registered Valuer

Current work: Owner of Imogene Antique & Contemporary Jewellery

GAA study: (list courses completed) Diploma of gemmology, OH&S, Synthetic and Gemmology update, Practical Diamond grading, Advanced diamond Grading, Diamond Technology, Jewellery Sketching, Pearl Threading, Registered Jewellery Valuer.

Any other study?
Batchelor of Science, Book Keeping, Phlebotomy, Horticulture and Wine.

Why did you choose to study gemmology?
Originally to help my mother on weekends with her Antique Jewellery business. Beatrice Wyatt did her diploma of Gemmology in her 50’s so I thought I should do it too. You need to know what you are selling and it is so much easier to do that when you know what you are talking about. I was at that stage working in pathology; I had been on both sides of the bench and found it more lucrative and interesting to sell the equipment and reagents to the laboratories. You had to know your “stuff”. Why this reagent or instrument was better than the next one. In short if you did not have qualifications the companies would not even look at employing you.

What was the most intriguing thing you learnt?
That if it was Grandmas, it must be antique. Apparently Grandma never bought anything for 50 years before she died OR Inclusions are beautiful and helpful! There are fantastic books filled with pictures of the internal world of gemstones and some are so amazing. They can be like artwork. Also it goes to show truth is stranger than fiction.

How did the GAA help you in your career?
Help! It is essential. Part of being an Antique jewellery dealer is you have a second hand dealers licence which means you can buy from the public. You need to know what you are looking at in the jewellery. The customer may not mean to be misleading, they have been told the story and it goes through the family like Chinese whispers, so the “story” you are told bears no resemblance to the truth. How could I possibly buy something if I don’t know if its ruby, garnet, spinel, synthetic spinel or synthetic ruby? Don’t forget antique jewellery can have synthetic gemstones in them and knowledge about gems can help with date a piece Many famous people say you make your money when you buy, not when you sell! I need to travel to find antique jewellery and see what is out in the world market as that is where you see the reproductions en masse and they are more readily identifiable. So I can’t always trust the person I am buying from as I have often just met them. Being a gemmologist also gives me independence and confidence to buy from whoever I choose and wherever I choose. It’s great to have a full written receipt in Australia when I buy something from a wholesaler with full disclosure. However not all the wholesale antique dealers have qualifications and the things they try to sell me… I can but shake my head because if passed them onto my clients as what they are purported to be I would be in trouble for putting those descriptions on a receipt

What do you like most about your job?
Having to travel and spend money on beautiful things I understand and can wear and make money from all at the same time. There are lots of great rewarding aspects of this career and one is helping people with their jewellery, fixing it identifying and valuing it for them. They are so grateful.

Career highlight?
Hmmmm …….not sure. I am certainly am better at public speaking as I provide seminars and courses for the GAA on Antique jewellery. Possibly meeting some heavy weights in the industry overseas and having them say “AHH you’re an FGAA, you guys really know your stuff”.

Favourite gem?
Vivid pink Sapphire

Dream job?
This one, which would be impossible without my qualifications as a gemmologist.


Jewel Beresford FGAA

At the time I began my Diploma in Gemmology studies I was running my own rock & gem shop named “Jewel’s” in Hobart. My husband and I were also the proprietors of three pizza takeaways and when not “rocking” I used to help out in the pizza shops, usually till closing at 2am. I had two children, one just twelve months and the other eight years old and two BIG dogs!!!. How busy I was is very obvious as I look over my original notes, all are written on the back of pizza menus, complete with bolognaise sauce and parmesan cheese. I dreaded being a borderline pass and being asked to produce my many worksheets, what a mess!!!

I remember applying to join the Division and being asked if I was in the trade. I said “Yes”, they said “No”. It took someone to make a point on precedence for me to become a member. How things have changed, now there are probably as many people that study gemmology as a passionate interest as there are because they hold a position in the industry.

Gemmological study was hard work for a girl who left school at fifteen, failed science and was a dud at maths but passionate and persistent she was and she achieved her goal. On the closing of “Jewel’s” after some twelve years, I ventured forth as a sales assistant in various antique businesses whilst also having involvement in our restaurant enterprises which had changed by this time to being Hobart’s only theatre restaurant and two other English style establishments. (My husband never did understand the meaning of one is enough).

On completion of my studies I became a committee member in Tasmania Division and continue to be so having held various positions over the thirty years of my membership.

I like to think my “job”, unpaid though it may be, is to convey to any who will listen the wonder of gemstones, to pass on through teaching the knowledge I have acquired and to promote gemmology throughout Tasmania. I have over the years made great like minded friends and have a store of memories to treasure. The highlight of my involvement with the Gemmological Association of Australia has been the receiving of the honour of life membership, a gift I value highly.

Like many gemmologists I have a broad spectrum of interest, I collect gemstones and crystals for students to study. I cut and polish ornamental gems and design and create gemstone necklaces. The world of ornamental gems reflects much of the history of civilization and history is another subject that holds huge interest for me. Ornamental gems are to me the most underrated part of the gemmological world and having said that I believe that on the other end of the spectrum, diamonds, well those of the white hue are the most overrated…. But that is another story.

My most treasured possession is a loving husband who understands my passion and is supportive in every way of my continuing involvement in it.


Sarah Munday FGAA

2012 Diploma in Gemmology graduate

I come from a scientific family background -my father is a geologist, and my mother a biologist. My childhood was full of a great sense of interest in natural history and the physical world -glued to David Attenborough documentaries, my parents teaching me the names of many animals and plant species, gemstones and minerals. I took my early gemmological knowledge for granted, a natural and obvious interest.

In 2009 I graduated from Curtin University in Perth, with abachelor degree in Jewellery & 3D design. I heard about the GAA diploma course from a fellow jewellery graduate who was studying gemmology. I was immediately interested. The diploma course seemed a great way to gain skills by studying something I already had an interest and grounding in, whilst also giving me a little more time to work out where my jewellery career might go. I began the diploma in February 2010. It was tricky to re-adapt to scientific education after the looser structure of arts. The course was fascinating, though I did struggle with some of the theoretical concepts (such as exactly what happens inside the refractometer)!Some of the lab equipment was also difficult to get used to, but my teachers were very patient with my tendency towards frustration when I cannot master skills immediately. I did develop a deep delight with particular techniques, namely testing with UV light (pretty colours!) and examining the tiny frozen worlds revealed by the microscope. I developed close friendships with my lab classmates, Lyn, Maria and Emma, and we started holding tea-and-study sessions, which made revising enjoyable and effective, if calorific. We all completed first year successfully.

After my first year, external life intervened. I deferred my second year of the diploma and moved to London in March 2011. Whilst in the UK,I examined closely the gem and mineral collections in the V&A and Natural History museums, but I didn’t keep up much revision, and I returned to Perth in January 2012 with feelings of trepidation about returning to the demanding second year of the course.

Despite feeling in the first few months like I was scrabbling to catch up, my confidence with theory and with the refractometer and spectroscope slowly increased. I was workingtwo jobs for part of this time and further tested my long-suffering teachers’ patience by often falling asleep in lectures… the source of much teasing from everybody for some time now!

My classmates and I made it through our final exams and were thrilled with our positive results. I was amazed to learn that I had managed to scrape the highest final marks in the state for our year, and at our graduation I was awarded the F M Mandiros Prize for 2012.

What is next? I am very proud to now be able to callmyself a gemmologist. I intend to stay a Fellow of the GAA for as long as possible. Since graduating I have been setting up my new little jewellery business, Sleepless Nights Design, and working on my first production range.

I didn’t want to lose my gemmology knowledge when I stopped studying, and investigated the possibility of assisting with lab classes in 2013. I was asked instead if I would deliver some lectures to the first year class. I accepted, rather terrified, but the 2013 student group are lovely and put me at ease. I enjoyed the experience much more than I could have imagined.

My love of gems and my training have enriched my life and work and I want to continue introducing fellow jewellersto this realm and teaching gem students (if they’ll have me) for as long as possible. My deep thanks go to all those involved in my learning at GAA WA.


Claudia McDonald Stone Sorter/Quality Control at Mark McAskill Jewellers (Adelaide)

What did you study at the Gemmological Association of Australia?
Diploma in Gemmology

What did you think of the course?
I thoroughly enjoyed the Diploma in Gemmology and found it very beneficial in terms of viewing gemstones from a scientific perspective. I was really pushed mentally and was able to gain the knowledge and practical skills needed to further my career and personal passion for gemstones.

Did you do any other study?
Bachelor of Visual Art specialising in Jewellery and Metal

Why did you choose to study gemmology?

I have always had a huge passion for gemstones and worked with them daily in my job and throughout university when I made my own pieces but I still had always wanted to further my knowledge and become qualified to identify them.

What do enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry? If not in the industry, where does your passion lead you?
I love working in the gem and jewellery industry as it is the perfect combination of nature, creativity and sparking happiness within people. Working with gems is a daily reminder of the beauty in nature and working with people to create pieces that expresses love and who they are, tells a story or just makes them happy really excites me.

How did the GAA help you?
The GAA helped me enormously by giving me a wealth of knowledge and practical skills that I will use for the rest of my career.

Do you have a position at the GAA?
I am a member of the South Australian GAA committee and also the SA representative for publicity and communications.

What do you like most about your job?
I love staying involved in the GAA community even after graduating as I can keep up to date with gemmology news, events and networking.

What is your most treasured possession?
My slow growing collection of raw and cut gemstones from different gem and mineral shows locally and internationally.

Favourite Gem?
Paraiba Tourmaline


Thomas Dell' Antonio

What did you study at the Gemmological Association of Australia?
Diploma of Gemmology

What did you think of the course?
I loved it! The most fun I had learning anything, and a pleasure to have been taught by passionate people

Did you do any other study?
I have completed a Bachelor of Science at Adelaide Uni in Geology and Geophysics

Why did you choose to study gemmology? After studying geology, I really enjoyed mineralogy, being hands on with instruments and anything earth science related. This course presented an opportunity to be in touch with this and help me learn more specific information about gems I’d never otherwise have learnt

What do enjoy most about working in the gem or jewellery industry? If not in the industry, where does your passion lead you?
I hope my passion leads me to a place in the industry where I can apply my knowledge from gemmology and valuing and love of earth science

How did the GAA help you?
The GAA helped me be sure of the direction I wanted my career to take. They also instilled a passion for gemmology and an appreciation for the focus required to work with precision to get results. Additionally I required the qualification to advance my planned career

Do you have a position at the GAA?
I currently assist tutoring 2nd year students

What do you like most about your job?
I get to broaden my knowledge and experience the satisfaction of applying it.

What is your most treasured possession? I have two: a large photo frame of pictures of my friends who were at my 21st birthday party, and a rock sample from the plate boundary between the Pacific and Australian tectonic plate (New Zealand)

What is your greatest business or hobby extravagance?
I own a lot of science and gemmology related books, and a computer I build from scratch that I play games with friends on

What word or phrase do you most overuse?
None specifically, though I do tend to quote movies or TV shows I see recently

Best part of your job? As before, I enjoy learning and applying what I’ve learnt, challenging my preconceptions

Hardest part?
Managing my standards when it comes to making mistakes. I try really hard and don’t like to let others or myself down

Best kept secret gem?
Among my non gemmology friends and colleagues, spinel seems underrated/unheard of. I also find others don’t know about garnet that isn’t almandine very often

Favourite gem?
Zircon. They are not only high dispersion and beautifully coloured but they have strong geological significance which fascinated me well before I studied gemmology

Dream job?
Running my own gem distribution or jewellery valuation business

What made you stand out?
My work ethic. I knew what I needed to do when I came in to class, absorbed the information needed for the task and completed it as fast as possible

What technique did you use to help you be the best?
It was a matter of consistent focus and the ability to trust my instincts without forcing myself to a conclusion

Can you offer advice to next years students?
The same advice that my teachers gave to me: Trust. Trust what your instruments tell you. When you have the hang of each instrument and can start to remember the ranges of reactions each gem has, then you can start trusting your instincts. Keep your mind flexible as there are always exceptions to the rule, but most of all trust yourself as your eyes and mind are the primary instruments in gemmology.