the Scottish Gemmological Association

Upcoming outing and meetings

Lauriston Castle, Sunday 2nd July

On the 2nd of July we have arranged a private tour of Lauriston Castle at 3p.m.  Our tour guide will probably be Mike Durnan the Steward at the Castle.  Of particular interest to us is the Blue John collection to be seen in the Castle and partly described to us in Godfrey Fitton's recent evening presentation.  However the Castle has many other interesting facets to discover.  <>

The gardens around the Castle are well worth a wander, especially the award-winning Japanese Friendship garden and there is a cafe in the Castle courtyard offering light refreshments if you arrive early.  Lauriston is an ideal place for a small, family picnic, and tables and benches are located by the South Gate (Cramond Road South). Please note that barbecues / cooking are not permitted in the grounds. Cyclists are welcome, but please keep to the main path as side paths are exclusively for walkers. Dogs (except for guide dogs) are not permitted in the grounds.

The basic tour usually lasts around an hour, but you should expect ours to maybe run a bit longer!

The SGA will cover the tour costs for our members but there will be a £5 charge for non-members.  Places are limited and will need to be pre-booked.  Please e-mail us on to reserve your place.

After the tour finishes, the suggestion is that we go down into South Queensferry.  The Hawes Inn is open all day and can offer a light snack or a full meal as required.


Our Agm,  Wednesday 9th August

We intend to hold our AGM on Wednesday 9th August at the Eric Liddell Centre.  The relevant paperwork will be available in July and general information about our meeting is available further down this page.

We intend to start this meeting at 7p.m and there will be wine on offer.  After the formal part of our agenda is over, Carmen Garcia-Carballido (FGA, DGA, L.Geology MSc)   will give us a short talk entitled:

Fossicking in the Outback

Opals and Sapphires of Eastern Australia

This will be a presentation on a recent field trip to New South Wales and Queensland (Eastern Australia) describing mining techniques, types of opals and sapphires encountered (fossicking and direct purchases from miners) and a few interesting anecdotes.  Presentation based on photographs and short videos and a selection of rough and faceted specimens will be available to handle.

Afterwards we intend going to Papilio Restaurant in nearby Bruntsfield Place for a meal.  If you would like to come along please let us know by emailing




2017 GemSet Competition

This year's competition drew a very interesting and varied selection of entries from across all the Scottish colleges.
We believe our eventual choice of prizewinners reflects the high standards being achieved by our students and would like to thank all who took part.

The judging panel have made the following awards:
1st Prize
Monika Nemanyte, Glasgow City College
2nd Prize
Paula Sloan, Glasgow School of Art
3rd Prize
Wojciech Krocikowski, Glasgow Kelvin College
Highly Commended
(listed in no particular order)
Nicola Fabian, Edinburgh College of Art
Cai Yang Yun,`Edinburgh College of Art
Annabel Hood, Edinburgh College of Art
Vivien Lam, Glasgow Kelvin College
Nadia Tahir, Glasgow Kelvin College
Martina Ellerstrand, Glasgow Kelvin College
Barbara Shearer, Glasgow City College
Samantha Readova, Fife College

A gallery of images of the winning pieces can be see here -


OUR most recent mEETING

was on the 22nd March when Godfrey Fitton was talking about The Natural History of Blue John.

Godfrey Fitton FRSE is Professor of Igneous Petrology in the University of Edinburgh. He obtained his PhD at the University of Durham for work on the Borrowdale Volcanics in the Lake District, and has since worked on volcanic rocks in many parts of the world.

Blue John is a banded variety of the mineral fluorite that is found only near Castleton in Derbyshire. It has been worked into a wide range of objects such as tazzas, vases, urns, and bowls since the late 18th Century.

Most veins of Blue John have now been worked out and the mineral is in very short supply. Consequently Blue John artefacts are very valuable and highly collectable, and imitations, mostly using Chinese fluorite, abound. This lecture showed how Blue John formed and acquired its remarkable and unique purple colour. 

For a PDF of presentation, click here - (Note: This presentation has been screen optimised but is quite large.)


general info on Meetings

The location for meetings will be the Eric Liddell Centre South Wing, 15 Morningside Rd, Edinburgh EH10 4DP.  The Eric Liddell Centre is located in south central Edinburgh and is situated on bus route no's: 5, 11, 16, 23, 45.  Map -

Refreshments and nibbles will be provided before the meeting.


Non-members will be welcome at meetings but only as guests brought along by a member or if known to us already.

If you do wish to attend and you're not a member (or a potential guest of one) then please contact us in advance by email at:

or just fill in the form on the web page accessed by clicking Contact here.

Please note that members get in for free, but we charge non-members £5.  However we do include refreshments before the meeting, and an invitation to join us at a nearby hostelry after the meeting!


New BookS and reviews


Jewelry by Suzanne Belperron: 'My Style is My Signature' Hardcover – published 11 Jan 2016

Authored by Patricia Corbett, Ward Landrigan and Nico Landrigan

The definitive illustrated biography of one of the most influential and important jewelry designers of the 20th century.

To read Elizabeth Passmore review of this excellent book, please click here

Our sincere thanks to Elizabeth!


Alan Hodgkinson

Gem Testing Techniques

The SGA is also delighted to announce that the unofficial launch of Alan Hodgkinson's new book took place at the Conference. For those interested in acquiring a copy, Alan has produced the following:

" I really am so delighted by your interest in my new book ‘Gem Testing Techniques’. It has been a long time coming, urged on by various gemmological friends of all backgrounds. It is aimed at both the new and aspiring gemmologist, to quicken their interest in and appreciation of gems and spur their studies, and to provide nourishment for and re-dedication in the experienced gemmologist, to roll up their sleeves and look at the next gemstone with a new determination to push further and actually enjoy the behaviour of the gem.

The book stops short of high tech laboratory equipment, as my platform has always been with the standard equipment and the unorthodox – How do we know we have recorded the correct refractive index range of an anisotropic gemstone, which means we have succeeded in establishing its birefringence (the maximum limit of double refraction)? If the moon is out at night, check out the round high zircon with its three pairs of primaries – Visual Optics fashion. Why not use clear tape or plastic to resolve an interference figure as positive or negative, or look up at the sky to see dichroism?

The 552 pages are full of colourful practical steps to develop a wider approach to the identification of gemstones and my wish to share my own enthusiasm with you the reader.”

Alan Hodgkinson

It costs £128 in the UK including postage and packaging. The cost to destinations outwith the UK are detailed on the book website, address as follows:

Hamish Johnston

Matthew Forster Heddle: Mineralogist and Mountaineer

Matthew Forster Heddle: Mineralogist and Mountaineer' is is now available to buy. 
Orkney-born Professor Matthew Heddle (1828-97) was a larger-than-life character, a renowned academic and one of Scotland's most famous mineralogists. 

This account of Heddle's life is written by his great-great-grandson and provides a much fuller picture of him than anything that has appeared before.  He has waived his royalties so they can be ploughed back to the Museum which holds the great man's mineral collection.

Priced at £14.99, you can order it from your local bookshop, or online from the NMS website -

Roy Starkey

Crystal Mountains – Minerals of the Cairngorms

Many SGA members attended Roy Starkey’s recent book launch on the Minerals and Gems of the Cairngorms. Those members who could not attend may be interested to know that his eagerly awaited book is now available.  

Crystal Mountains tells the story of the early crystal hunters who roamed the mountains and glens of the Cairngorms during the 18th and 19th centuries in search of Scotland’s famous gem – the smoky quartz or cairngorm.

Roy’s website shows some pages from the book and a copy can be ordered online, priced at £25.00