Obit: Simine Mozaffarian, G.G., 53, former GIA, CJI, and Butterfields gemologist

Friends and colleagues in the gem and jewelry industry are mourning the tragic loss of Simine Mozaffarian, a former GIA instructor, who died in London June 14 as a result of a traffic accident.

Simine was born in Iran in 1949, one of the fourth generation in a family of jewelry retailers and manufacturers that operated businesses in Tehran and San Francisco. She earned her Graduate Gemologist diploma from GIA in 1977, working first as a diamond grader and later as assistant laboratory supervisor in the GIA Gem Trade Laboratory in New York. After leaving GIA, Mozaffarian moved to Toronto, and through most of the 1980s served as an instructor and liaison with GIA students at the Canadian Jewellers Institute.

Mozaffarian also worked with the Ministry of Consumer Corporate Affairs, the Canadian Gemological Association, and the Canadian Jewelers’ Association, creating standards for the Canadian diamond industry. In addition, she ran her own by-appointment jewelry salon, importing fine jewelry and buying and selling through auction houses for her salon and on behalf of her clients, as well as manufacturing one-of-a-kind pieces.

Simine then moved on to San Francisco, joining her family’s jewelry business and managing their shop in the St. Francis Hotel for her brother, Shapur Mozaffarian. She joined Butterfields & Butterfields [now “Bonhams & Butterfields”] Auction House in 1996 where she worked until July 2002, after which she left to pursue other interests in the jewelry and art world.

Mozaffarian was in London attending a Sotheby’s workshop on antique and estate jewelry when she was struck and killed by a double-decker bus.

Peter Shemonsky at Butterfields noted that Simine will be greatly missed by her co-workers, friends, and associates within the jewelry industry.

In a message to all GIA employees, president William E. Boyajian expressed his profound sadness over Mozaffarian’s tragic passing: “She was deeply committed to GIA and was as fine a human being as I have known.”

Karin Hurwit, senior research gemologist in the GIA Gem Laboratory at the Institute’s world headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif., worked with Mozaffarian in GIA’s West Coast Laboratory in Santa Monica before Mozaffarian transferred to the New York Laboratory. “She was a very gracious lady and a very dedicated gemologist,” said Hurwit. “She was a fine colleague who we missed when she moved to New York, but she maintained close contact and often called to discuss developments in gemology and identification procedures.”

Susan B. Johnson, GIA’s director of Education Administration, fondly recalled teaching GIA Extension classes with Mozaffarian in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada. “She displayed the same extraordinary level of dedication to our Extension students that she demonstrated in serving the needs of GIA’s “home study” [Distance Education] Canadian students,” said Johnson. “Simine devoted herself to ensuring they always had the best possible educational experience. She always exuded warmth and sincerity, and she was a well-educated and highly intelligent woman. Our world has lost a genuine shining star with her untimely passing.”

Mozaffarian’s sister-in-law, Cynthia, remembers Simine as “a compassionate, poised, and sophisticated lady who held the highest standards of ethics and integrity, privately and professionally. She treated every individual with kindness, fairness, and consideration, and she was respected and loved by all who knew her well. Simine has left a void in our lives that cannot be filled.”

Mozaffarian is survived by her husband, Hamid Khalili; daughter Roxanne, 18; her mother, two brothers, two sisters, and many close relatives. A memorial service was held June 29 at the Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, where her daughter, Roxanne, attended school.

Biographical information provided by Peter Shemonsky, director, Fine Jewelry & Timepieces, Bonhams & Butterfields, San Francisco, and by GIA.