. Robert Crowningshield, vice president of the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) Gem Trade Laboratory, and one of the original leaders of the Laboratory in New York, has received the Accredited Gemologists Association’s (AGA) highest honor, the Antonio C. Bonnano Award for Excellence in Gemology.
The award was accepted on Crowningshield’s behalf by Thomas M. Moses, vice president of Identification and Research Services for the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory, during a ceremony and dinner held Feb. 5 in Tucson, Ariz.
The award citation praised Crowningshield for “a lifetime of contributions to the field of gemology.” Antoinette Matlins, a Graduate Gemologist and one of Bonanno’s daughters, said, “It is with special pleasure that we present this award to Bob because of the wonderful relationship he shared with dad and the great mutual respect they felt for one another.”
Matlins commended Crowningshield, saying, “Like our father, Bob retains his passion and dedication to the field after more than 50 years. He has touched the lives of thousands of gemologists, conducted research that has had a major impact on our understanding of diamonds and colored stones, and truly shaped the field of gemology as we know it today.”
In accepting the award for Crowningshield, Moses said, “I can assure you that he is thinking about his many friends and colleagues here this evening. He was flattered to be considered for the award with the other two accomplished nominees [Alan Jobbins and Robert Weldon] for whom I know he has great respect. Bob is the consummate gemologist—a methodical practitioner, a careful researcher, and a very sharing teacher. I know many of you knew the teacher side of him and have your own recollections of learning from Bob.”
GIA President William E. Boyajian added, “Both the gemological community worldwide and the GIA Gem Laboratory have benefited immeasurably from Bob Crowningshield’s historic work and his intense pursuit of identification techniques. He is richly deserving of an award such as this, which recognizes his great importance in this field.”
Crowningshield, who joined the Laboratory in 1948, is a legend in the field of gemology and is revered for his pioneering work in many areas of gemological research – most notably spectroscopy. His extensive list of “firsts” includes groundbreaking findings in the spot method of refractive index determination on Rayner and similar refractometers, spectroscopic recognition of treated color diamonds, a comprehensive study of gem-quality synthetic diamonds, and another on dyed jadeite. He also has extensive expertise in nomenclature and is widely recognized for his contributions in that field, which include an acclaimed 1983 treatise, “Padparadscha: What’s In a Name?”
The Antonio C. Bonanno Award recognizes people in the gemological field who have made significant contributions to the field or defended and upheld gemological standards in a way that has benefited the larger gem and jewelry community, according to the AGA.
Crowningshield is widely admired by friends and colleagues for his eloquence and charm as a speaker, lecturer, and author. Throughout his career he has frequently contributed to GIA’s award-winning scholarly journal, Gems & Gemology, and he has also been published in many popular periodicals in the trade press, including Lapidary Journal and Jewelers’ Circular Keystone.
Crowningshield has served as the United States delegate to the International Gemological Conference and the International Precious Stones Conference. He has attended and addressed literally hundreds of audiences at events such as AGS Conclaves, state conventions of retail jewelers, and GIA Alumni Association gatherings.