Christopher Smith to Receive Bonanno Award

Christopher SmithChristopher P. Smith, vice president and chief gemologist at American Gemological Laboratories in New York City, will receive the 2009 Antonio C. Bonanno Award For Excellence in Gemology.

The prestigious award, presented annually by Accredited Gemologists Association, will be given to Smith, Feb. 4, 2009, in Tucson, Ariz., during AGA’s Gala Dinner Dance at the conclusion of its Tucson Conference.

Smith spearheads the growth and development of AGL’s colored stone services.

“The award is a tribute to his commitment to high ethical standards, and to his career as a whole, which is devoted to laboratory work, applied gemological research, collaboration with other gemological researchers and industry organizations, advocacy of proper disclosure and education,” AGL said in a statement.

The Antonio C. Bonanno award—named in honor of the AGA’s founder—was created to recognize people who have made significant contributions to the gemological field. The award, which includes a check for $2,000, calls attention not only to the outstanding contributions of the recipient, but to the responsibility of the gemological community to encourage and reward ongoing research, education, and dissemination of information.

Beginning as a diamond grader with GIA, Smith moved into the gem identification department, where he continued for five years until accepting a position in Switzerland with the Gübelin Laboratory.

He was with the Gübelin laboratory for 12 years, and for several of those years he led the company as Laboratory Services Manager and eventually Laboratory Director. While at Gübelin, Smith traveled to gem deposits worldwide, conducting extensive research on ruby and sapphire characterization (including the “new” sources at that time—Mong Hsu, Vietnam, Nepal, and Tajikistan) and on determining country of origin on gems such as ruby, sapphire, emerald, and alexandrite. In addition, his research has covered a breadth of gemological topics involving a range of colored stones and diamonds, focusing on the distinctions between non-treated and treated gemstones, origin of color, the identification of natural and synthetic gems, as well as the development of analytical techniques and their applications in gemology.

In 2003 he returned to GIA, where he continued his research until joining AGL in December, 2006.

In addition to his research, Smith’s work has been widely published. He is the recipient of the “Most Valuable Article Award” from GIA’s Gems & Gemology journal and was a founding member of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee.