Robert Weldon to Receive AGA’s 2020 Bonanno Award

Robert Weldon (pictured), the former JCK editor who now heads the Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library & Information Center at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA), will receive the 2020 Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology from the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA).

After earning his Graduate Gemologist diploma at GIA in 1987, Weldon worked as a gem photographer and librarian. In 1990, he joined JCK as its West Coast editor, with a focus on colored gemstones. He stayed at the publication until 1997, when he left to help start Professional Jeweler.

He returned to GIA in 2006 and became director of its library in 2017.

He recently reminisced about his experience at JCK here and on the “Jewelry District” podcast.

“Robert’s contributions to the field of gemology are simply incomparable,” said AGA president Stuart Robertson in a statement. “[H]e has photographed some of the most important gem and jewelry collections known, and he has published and lectured extensively on a wide range of gemological issues.

“Yet in each phase of his career, one can clearly see a common thread: Robert strives to give a voice to some of the most economically vulnerable members of the trade by extending an opportunity to tell their story. We see this again in his role as part of GIA’s initiative training small- scale miners to better understand the basic quality and value factors of the rough they mine.”

Added Weldon in the same statement, “I’m humbled by this incredible honor. Long ago, I set out to be a very different kind of gemologist. I focus on gems, of course, but also on the colorful personalities of the industry, exploring people’s successes, challenges, needs, and dreams. Through photography, I hope to celebrate the great beauty of gemstones. As a writer, my goal is to inform and entertain: not only about gems, but also the remarkable individuals who mine, trade, and wear these beautiful objects of the earth. As a librarian, a new perspective for me involves the fascinating gemological and human records of the gemstone industry. In a sense it is what my career has been about from the very beginning.”

The Bonanno Award will be presented on Feb. 5 at AGA’s annual Gala Dinner Dance, held at the conclusion of its conference in Tucson. The event will take place 6–11 p.m., at the Tucson Marriott University Park Hotel. The award includes a personalized plaque and a $2,000 research honorarium funded by the AGA membership.

Past winners of the Bonanno Award can be seen here.

(Image courtesy of the Accredited Gemologists Association)

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JCK News Director