Christopher Smith joins GIA Gem Laboratory

Christopher P. Smith, an internationally respected and widely published gemological expert and researcher, has joined the Gemological Institute of America’s Gem Laboratory as manager of gemological research. He will be based in the GIA Gem Laboratory’s New York headquarters.

Smith has extensive experience in the identification of a broad range of gem materials and detection of treatments, as well as in determining origin-of-color for colored diamonds. These were his major areas of concentration at the Gübelin Gem Laboratory in Switzerland, where he worked for most of the past 12 years. Prior to that, Smith worked in the GIA West Coast Identification Laboratory as a staff gemologist from 1986-1991.

In announcing Smith’s appointment, GIA Gem Laboratory CEO Thomas C. Yonelunas said, “I am delighted to welcome Chris back to GIA and look forward the many contributions he will make as we move forward in the development of expanded colored stone services and gemological research. We have worked closely with Chris and the Gübelin Laboratory over the years on a number of significant identification and treatment projects, and his work has been instrumental in the success of these research projects.”

Smith will work closely with Thomas C. Yonelunas, GIA Gem Laboratory CEO, Tom Moses, vice president of Identification and Research Services, and Shane McClure, director of West Coast Identification Services. Smith’s responsibilities will include establishing the focus of many of the Institute’s research efforts on gem materials and treatments, as well as assisting in the development of new gemological identification services, said Yonelunas.

Smith has authored or co-authored articles in many gemological journals worldwide, including Gems & Gemology, The Journal of Gemmology (U.K.), The Australian Gemmologist, and Lapis Mineralien Magazin (Germany). Topics of these articles ranged from rubies mined in Nepal and sapphires from Vietnam, to diamonds processed by high pressure/high temperature annealing to improve their color.

Most recently, Smith, along with McClure, won G&G’s Dr. Edward J. Gübelin Most Valuable Article Award for their 2002 article and chart on gem treatments. In addition, Smith has lectured on gemological topics in the U.S. and throughout Europe and Asia.

Smith said he is looking forward to tackling the challenges inherent in identification of gem materials and treatments for the benefit of the public as well as the integrity of the industry. “The treatments we are seeing are becoming more sophisticated, so detecting them becomes increasingly more challenging,” said Smith. “Technological developments in treating gem materials often leave us in the difficult position of reverse-engineering a suspected treatment to determine its origin and components.”

He emphasized the importance of advanced analytical techniques and equipment, such as Raman spectroscopy, as routine measures to keep pace with the emergence of new treatments.