GIA pays tribute to John Sinkankas

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) paid tribute to one of the world’s most prolific gemological authors of our time, John Sinkankas, with the installation of a commemorative lithograph at the Institute’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif. Sinkankas, who is ineffably known and respected as a legendary mineralogist, lapidary, scholar, and artist, passed away May 17, 2002, two days after his 87th birthday. His life and enormous contributions to the field of gemology were honored at a memorial service June 29 at GIA’s Robert Mouawad Campus, with more than 120 of his friends and family in attendance.

The lithograph is prominently displayed in the Institute’s Richard T. Liddicoat Library and Information Center.

Sinkankas, who also served as a career aviation officer in the U.S. Navy, is best remembered for the more than 15 books and 100 articles he wrote on gems and minerals over five decades. His monumental work, Gemology: An Annotated Bibliography, is considered the most comprehensive work of its kind. It documented his lifetime of work and offered insight into his immense love of books. His Gemcutting, Mineralogy for Amateurs, and Emeralds and Other Beryls are also important reference books used worldwide.

Sinkankas is credited with building the world’s finest private collection of gemological and mineralogical literature of its kind, which he and his wife, Marjorie, sold to GIA’s Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center in 1988. The 14,000 volumes are housed in the library’s Cartier Rare Book Repository and Archives room. Appointments can be made through the library director to view items from his library.

“John Sinkankas touched the lives of thousands, inspiring, teaching and challenging,” said GIA’s Library Director Dona Dirlam. “He leaves us with a written legacy of wit and wisdom.”

“He made immense contributions to gemology. He changed so many lives,” said William E. Boyajian, G.G., president of GIA. “To many, John Sinkankas was the epitome of a modern day Renaissance man.”

At the request of the Sinkankas family, GIA has established the John Sinkankas Library Fund, which will help GIA’s librarians continue their mission to uphold the public’s trust in the gem and jewelry industry. To contribute to the fund, make the check out to GIA, note that it is for the John Sinkankas Library Fund, and send the donation to Gemological Institute of America, Dona Dirlam, Director, Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center, 5345 Armada Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008.