ICA Colored Gemstone Congress

If the 2000 summer Olympics gave you a hankering to go Down Under, here’s your chance. Pack your boomerang and head to the 2001 International Colored Gemstone Association Congress in Sydney, Australia. The 2001 ICA Congress will be held April 29 through May 3 at Star City, located on the shores of Sydney Harbour, site of the Opera House and Harbour Bridge landmarks.

One of the main topics to be addressed is electronic commerce and its effects on traditional methods of trading and the future of colored gemstone markets. Leading off will be Don Kogen of Thaigem.com, Chanthaburi, Thailand, discussing “Internet, Online Trading, and How It Is Changing the Traditional Gemstones Business.” Bob Pritchard, a marketing expert from Australia, will tackle “Marketing Gemstones and the Electronic Network,” while Richard Orbach of Cherrypicked.com, New York, takes on “Selling Trust: The Ethical Representation of Precious Gemstones Online.” Wrapping up the e-market presentations will be a panel discussion on business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) commerce with Constantin Wild, ICA director and owner of W. Constantin Wild & Co., Germany. Wild will be joined by Pritchard, Orbach, and Kogen.

Manfred Eickhorst, ICA member and owner of System Eickhorst, Germany, will discuss “Lighting for the Colored Gemstone Industry.” There also will be educational seminars on opals, sapphires, diamonds, pearls, and other rare minerals from Australia. To put theory into practice, a mini trade show will showcase Australian gemstones and products.

ICA member Dr. Adolf Peretti of GRS Gemresearch Swisslab AG, Thailand, will discuss the treatment and identification of blue sapphires and Burmese rubies. Branko Deljanin, a gemologist for the European Gem Lab in New York, will focus on “Heated Sapphires From Around the World.”

Nanette Forester, ICA director and owner of Forester & Co., Beverly Hills, Calif., will join Gaetano Cavalieri, president of CIBJO (the international confederation of jewelers and diamond and colored gem merchants), to present a history of CIBJO along with information on the new Colored Stone Blue Book of nomenclature. “Cutting in the New Millennium” will focus on two specialties: “Special Artistic Cutting,” with award-winning gem cutters Bernd Munsteiner, Richard Homer, Glen Lehrer, and Michael Dyber; and “Classical Precision Cutting,” presented by ICA member Gerrold Green, Reginald C. Miller, and ICA member Ilan Weisman, of Ilan Weisman & Co., Israel).

Julius Petsch, ICA past president and owner of Julius Petsch, Germany, will discuss the emerging production center of Madagascar (Ilakhaha), while Eric Braunwart, ICA member and owner of Columbia Gem House, will present “Branding: Gemstones, Companies, and Associations.”

Finally, the ICA panel will present “The Future of the Colored Gemstone Trade and the ICA Role.” Panel members will include ICA president Israel Eliezri of Colgem El 97, Israel; ICA past president Paolo Valentini of Valentini S.R.L., Italy; ICA vice president Santpal Sinchawla of S.S. Agencies R.O.P., Thailand; and ICA industry rules committee co-chairman Ray Zajicek of Equatorian Imports.

Go walkabout. Delegates will have ample opportunity to enjoy Australian hospitality and experience one of the world’s leading tourist destinations. Optional tours to gem-producing areas will be available, including a visit to the Argyle diamond mine, one of the largest diamond mines in production and home to the most important fancy vivid pink diamonds. Australia is the world’s largest producer of precious opal, and a visit to Lightning Ridge, home of the black opal, will be available. If time permits, pay a visit to Broome in the remote northwest, where the largest and most prestigious white and golden cultured pearls in the world are farmed. The Glen Innes and Anakie areas are major suppliers of rough sapphire to the world markets. You might also consider a tour of one of Australia’s gold mining operations or a trip to the Coober Pedy white opal digs.

A tale of two scheduled tours. The first, a two-day excursion to the opal and sapphire mines of New South Wales, begins with a flight to the world-famous Lightning Ridge opal fields. A visit to several mining areas-including a trek underground and a tour of cutting factories and buying offices-will help you appreciate the value of black opal. Next, you’ll fly east to Inverell to visit large-scale mechanical sapphire mines and their associated rough sorting and grading facilities.

The second tour is a seven-day journey that also includes Lightning Ridge. Throughout this tour, the plane flies at low altitudes, so journeyers fly directly over the Lightning Ridge opal fields and around Uluru (formally Ayer’s Rock). Uluru is the world’s largest monolith (1,142 ft.) and the most sacred site of the indigenous Aboriginal people. You’ll also visit two small villages, Sapphire and Rubyvale, for Australian sapphire. You’ll see one of the world’s largest alluvial mechanical sapphire mines, which is surrounded by vast areas of excavations and mullock heaps. This area is noted for producing huge green and golden-yellow stones.

Broome, a small village established in the 1800s to harvest pearls and shell, also is on the tour. Today, more than $200 million dollars worth of white and golden South Seas cultured pearls are produced here annually.

The Argyle Diamond Mines are next, and as you pass over the coast and the Kimberley Mountain ranges, you’ll get a bird’s-eye view of the diamond mine itself. A complete ground tour of this famous mine has been arranged. Finally, on the way home, the pilot will fly over the extensive Queensland boulder opal fields.

To register or obtain additional information about the 2001 Congress, contact the International Colored Gemstone Association in New York at (212) 688-8452, fax (212) 688-9006; Congress organizers in Sydney at (61 2) 9544-9134 or (61 7) 5538-9899, fax (61 2) 9522-4447 or (61 7) 5538-9392, e-mail: mariora@mariora.com.au.