W. H. Hicks Prize List 1993- 2020

The W. H. Hicks prize is in memory of W.H. (Bill) Hicks who died in November 1993 after 12 years as Editor of The Australian Gemmologist.

The Federal Council may award annually or biennially the W. H. Hicks Prize to author(s) resident in Australia, for the best paper published in The Australian Gemmologist. Voting is decided by an independent selection panel, appointed by the Editor and Editorial committee. The announcement of the winner of the prize is made to members of the Federal Council at the Federal Conference, then to all members of the GAA at the AGM, and also published in The Australian Gemmologist in the first issue of the year.

In mid-1981, production of The Australian Gemmologist moved from Sydney to South Yarra, Victoria under the Chairmanship of Bill Hicks. He hoped as Editor to include more articles on Australian gem materials, new deposits and diagnostic features of local gems. Recently retired from the family book publishing business he was able to improve the quality and minimize costs by editing and rewriting papers by hand (pre-computer age), preparing layouts and supervising printing. He was ably assisted by Mrs Rose Hicks as secretary.

Limited colour printing was introduced to support articles rather than just colour on the cover as seen in the short article by Rod Brightman, “Surface topography of gem crystals”, published in Vol. 14, No.11, 1982 (see excerpt of this article, below).

Even though overseas in 1982, Bill and Rose compiled the journal from Florence and Athens – a task much easier today with email and word documents. A bonus during this time abroad was meeting with Dr Gübelin.

In 1983 it was reported that readers in 30 countries were subscribing to The Australian Gemmologist with an overseas annual subscription rate of $12. An Editorial Review Board of seven experts in their field was formed to assist the Editor with advice on the more technical articles.

In 1985 the 20th International Gemmological Conference was held in Sydney and the Proceedings were published in two issues of The Australian Gemmologist with Bill Hicks as Proceedings Editor, assisted by Grahame Brown and Ralph Segnit. The GAA and The Australian Gemmologist were showcased on the international stage.

From 1989 Bill Hicks as Editor was ably assisted by Pat Callaway as Chair of the Editorial Committee. In 1991 the GAA bestowed Honorary Life Membership on Bill Hicks in recognition of his significant contribution to the Association and The Australian Gemmologist.

From February 1992 the page size of the journal was increased slightly. There was a circulation of 1900 copies within Australia and 300 distributed to over 40 other countries.

W. H. Hicks died in November 1993 and Grahame Brown took on the role as Editor. Two Bill Hicks Memorial Issues of The Australian Gemmologist were produced in 1994.

The Federal Council of the GAA decided to create the W. H. Hicks Prize to acknowledge the contributions of Australian resident authors who published in The Australian Gemmologist. A record of recipients has been compiled in Table 1.

A list of Editors of the The Australian Gemmologist after Bill Hicks is in Table 2. Prior to 1982, a general committee was responsible for the production of the journal without the specific role of an Editor.

Dr Grahame Brown followed on in the esteemed footsteps of Bill Hicks and was Editor from 1994 until his death in January 2008, the longest tenure to date. Grant Pearson was Editor from 2008-2009. Francine Payette took over as Chair / Editor from 2010 to 2012 and made significant changes to the format of the journal to full colour A4 as we have now. Francine also focussed on issues significant to the journal such as copyright and introduced the first copyright assignment form for authors to sign.

Current GAA Federal Patron, Terry Coldham, held the position of Chair from 2013 to 2016 after which Stephanie Thomas took over as Chair / Editor for two years from 2017-2018. Dr Michelle Clark became Chair / Editor in May 2019 and continues to the present.