scottish Gemmological association 


2019 Conference

Our 2019 Conference will be held from the 3rd to the 6th of May, 2019, with an optional excursion on  Monday 6th of May. Once again, it will be held at the Westerwood Hotel at Dullatur near Cumbernauld (a bit closer to Glasgow than Edinburgh!).  

The Hotel

The four-star Westerwood Hotel is set amid acres of glorious Scottish countryside overlooked by the Campsie Hills and offers a stunning location with luxurious leisure facilities and excellent conference spaces - not to mention an 18-hole golf course designed by none other than Seve Ballesteros.

There are 148 spacious bedrooms, complemented by a luxurious spa and health club, complete with a fully-equipped gym, a generously sized swimming pool and a relaxing sauna.

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We have reserved their standard rooms for our Delegates, but if you wish, you can request an upgrade when booking.  <>. We have also negotiated preferential rates if you want to arrive a day or so early or stay on for a day or so.  The weekend rate is £72 bed and breakfast for single occupancy and £102 bed and breakfast for a double or twin room.

The en-suite bathrooms mostly come with separate bath and shower facilities and rooms are easily accessible,  although there are additional accessibility facilities available on request,  <>.

If you wish to play the Westerwood Golf Course, bookings can be made through Reception on a first come, first served basis and a  preferential  Delegates rate applies.  There are usually a few delegates looking for fellow golfers to play a round.  There will be an email on the subject in April.

Once you have paid your Conference invoice, you will receive a confirmation of receipt  together with a Booking Code.  Your accommodation should be booked directly with the Hotel, quoting your Booking Code. If you try to book online rather than through the hotel, you will not automatically be offered the preferential Conference rate.



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If coming by road, the Westerwood Hotel is located just off the M80 at Junction 6 as shown on the map above.

The nearest railway station is at Croy, about three miles away.  This is on the main line between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Edinburgh Airport is about a forty minute taxi ride away, or a tram ride will take you into Edinburgh for a train connection.  Glasgow Airport is about thirty minutes away by taxi.  The local taxi company  (Cumbernauld - Central Cars: 01236 722 772 ) can be pre-booked to collect from either Airport.  Current Airport to Hotel fares are shown as:

  • Glasgow Airport from £29.00

  • Edinburgh Airport from £39.00

  • Prestwick Airport from £58.00

You can pre-book a local taxi through the Westerwood (Louise - 0044 1236 860741).   You will be asked for your flight number and a contact phone number.

Taking an airport taxi will be significantly more expensive.

2018 Conference

The following report was written by Denitsa Popova who won the 2018 Robertson / Lule Student Sponsorship. 

Scottish Gemmological Association 2018 Conference Report

This May, I had the opportunity to attend the Scottish Gemmological Association Annual Conference, held at the Westerwood Hotel at Dullatur. Being this year’s recipient of the Stuart Robertson and Cigdem Lule Sponsorship Award, I would like to thank them for opening a whole new world for me. The Conference which lasted for three days was both a useful but also very enjoyable experience. It brought together a range of experts involved in many aspects of gemmology, from around the UK, Europe and North America. The conference covered a variety of topics and workshop sessions whereby attendees could choose a topic into which to take a deeper dive.

The Conference began with a drinks reception on Friday evening, where everyone enjoyed relaxed conversations, consolidated old relationships and developed new ones. There were a lot of smiles, laughs and stories shared. The drinks were followed by a welcome session and the first talk of the Conference by Ginnie and Leo de Vroomen, the creative duo, celebrating 50 years designing their signature style of jewellery. The combination of art and craftsmanship, using Ginnie’s dreamlike paintings for inspiration and techniques like enameling and repoussé, results in unique balance of colour and forms.

Saturday morning started with an inspirational talk by Elise Skalwold, an Accredited Senior Gemmologist, independent researcher and author. She led us through her fascinating journey from Gemmology to Mineralogy and Mineral Physics, which started with a blue crystal inclusion trapped a diamond macle. Collaborating with colleagues and other researchers, using some of the most advanced technology in the world, like the Advanced Photon Source at Argonne National Laboratory, the National Synchrotron Light Source at Brookhaven National Laboratory and the Cornell High Energy Synchrotron Source, after more then four years it was concluded that the crystal inclusion is olivine. Despite the hard work and gained data, though, the cause of the blue colour still remains unknown.

Dr. J.C.(Hanco) Zwaan, FGA ,Head of the Netherlands Gemmological Laboratory and researcher, then discussed the formation of sapphires related to a metamorphic origin, focusing the attention on sapphires from Sri Lanka. By studying the deposits in Sri Lanka, at Mirisatahela mountain, he concluded that the sapphires found in the secondary deposits, were formed after metamorphic peak, subsequent cooling and decompression phase. By melting out silica, during the metamorphism peak(about 600 Ma), the rocks obtain high aluminium (Al) concentrations and low silica (Si) levels. Later (550 Ma) the effect of high-fluid occurrence resulted in formation of large corundum crystals.

The presentations were followed by several exciting announcements. Donna Hawrelko, FGA, FCGmA, and president of the Canadian Gemmological Association, invited everyone to celebrate their 60th year as a Canadian Association. The 2018 Canadian Gemmological Association Conference will take place between 19 - 21 October in Vancouver. This is also where the First Canadian Annual Emerging Artist Jewellery Design Competition will be held.

Shirley Mitchell, FGA, DGA, FIRV, PJ Val Dip, FNAJ, Chairman - The Academy of Valuers, announced that the Academy is ready to host its first workshop in Scotland, expecting this to happen in the next six weeks. Shirley also announced that the Academy is sponsoring an annual Valuers Scholarship to be named in honour of Alan Hodgkinson.

This was followed by Chris Sellors of Hamonds with an update on the shortly to be opened Whitby Jet Museum.

The afternoon sessions started with a talk by Craig Lynch G.G., owner of Ouellet & Lynch. He described the challenges of valuing rare gemstones, when less information is available on them for comparison. He shared his personal approach when valuing rare gemstones and jewellery, pieces, noted that the “passionate-curiosity” is the starting point for any success.

The first day of the conference concluded with a fantastic talk by Helen Molesworth, Managing Director of Gubelin Academy. She offered a historical perspective on the gemstone market, using record auction prices and comparing values at different historical periods, using a soldier’s annual salary as a criteria.

Elise Skalwold opened the second day of the Conference by taking the attendees on a second in-depth journey, this time exploring the Vikings navigations and the legend of the Viking Sunstone. According to the Ancients Viking Sagas, the Vikings used a stone to find their way in the Arctic Waters. Elise gave a detailed description of the several possible specimens of the stone, among them “Iceland Spar” calcite and iolite, and pointed out the connection between these gemstones and the understanding of pleochroism and birefringence.

Shelly Sergent, a lead curator for the unique and one of the kind gem and jewellery collection - Somewhere In The Rainbow, shared the story of how the collection was born, starting as a hobby and turning into an amazing passion. Among the many extraordinary specimens is a 15-carats, pear-shaped Paraiba tourmaline, set as a centre stone of a diamond necklace, with the well deserved name “The Queen”. The remarkable “Tourmaline Triplets”, a trio of tricolored tourmaline, joined the collection one at a time, and were later discovered to be cut from the same large crystal, which had been discovered in alluvial deposit in Mozambique. The collection also includes 20.2 carat Tsavorite garnet known as the “Scorpion King”, from the private collection of the Scottish-born geologist Campbell Bridges, who was killed in Kenya in 2009.

After the morning talks, Gemmology students and the GemSet Competition winners received awards for their achievements and incredible designs. .

In the early afternoon the first workshop sessions were held. Out of several on offer, my chosen workshops were:

Lily Faber, FGA EG presenting on the History of Pietra Dura, a specialized art, created with great precision and artistry. The technique was used for centuries, but it was mastered in Florence during the end of 16th century, at the time of the Medici. It consists in inlaying highly polished colored stones into marble plates and creating “ a painting in stone”. The works of Pietra Dura often represents plants, floral motifs or natural settings. Lily showed us some of this very delicate and detailed work, like the collection of 17th century framed Pietra Dura panels depicting a variety of birds and flowers. The panels were often incorporated in cabinets and other furniture. After the presentation we had the chance to look at some extraordinary specimens of petrified wood, agate, jasper, lapis-lazuli and many more, often used in Pietra Dura art practice.

Miranda Wells, FGA, DGA gave a detailed presentation on the Development of the Brilliant Cut in Diamonds, from the point cut - which was an attempt of keeping as much as possible the natural octahedral shape of diamonds, to the mathematically perfected modern round brilliant cut. The attendees had the opportunity to observe the effects of cut pavilion depth and angle on the total internal reflection in round brilliant cut diamonds.

On Monday, two separate excursions took place. The attendees could choose between a field trip to the Campise Fells for collecting Jasper and a visit to the Deanston Whisky Distillery and the Scottish Antique and Arts Centre. In glorious weather, both trips were greatly enjoyed.

Denitsa V Popova

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