On May 17, 2008, members and associates of the DC GIA Chapter Alumni Association had the opportunity and privilege to attend a full-day workshop presented by Mr. Ric Taylor and Mr. James Morse of GIA. The seminar, entitled “Identifying Ruby, Sapphire, and Emerald,” afforded an invaluable chance to augment gemological expertise vis-à-vis the trade’s “Big 3.”

The workshop was divided into three thematic segments, one focused on each ruby, sapphire, and emerald. Each thematic segment, in turn, was split into two one-hour components. The first hour was devoted to substantive instruction regarding the stone, comprising lecture, slide material, and discussion of participant-initiated questions. The second hour was then given exclusively to laboratory work. Each participant was provided with a microscope workstation and the unparalleled opportunity to build a mental database by examining as many examples of the subject stone as time permitted.

The aim of the workshop was to further understanding in separating natural gemstones from either treated or synthetic materials and in identifying particular treatments and types of synthetics. To that end, the detail, depth, and intensity of the presentation and lab work were perfectly suited. Clarity enhancement, heat treatment, diffusion treatment, and modern synthetics were all covered. As just one specific example, even new research, not yet published, was made available—DC GIA members are among the first to become aware of chromophore cannibalization as a technique for separating natural from heat-treated sapphire. Hence, taking into account the palpable engagement and enthusiasm of the sold-out group, the purpose of the seminar would appear to have been realized to an impressive extent!

This author extends her deepest gratitude to Mr. Taylor, to Mr. Morse, to GIA, and to all those of the DC GIA Chapter who made this occasion possible. Thank you.

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