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Scandinavian Gem Symposium

Last Updated: 29th Jul 2016

By Joel Dyer

Scandinavian Gem Symposium

Scandinavian Gem Symposium in Kisa

A few days ago, I got back from the excellent Scandinavian Gem Symposium in Kisa, Sweden, held on June 18th 2016. The reasons I went to this happening were multiple. In the early Spring, I was microscoping some ”problematic” inclusions in some samples, from my friend JA, that originated from Northern Chile. When trying to figure out the nature of the inclusions, someone in Mindat suggested that perhaps I could go to an upcoming event in Sweden. There, John Koivula would be attending, and perhaps I could show this famous ”inclusionist” and gemologist the samples, or pictures of them. As my parents offered to sponsor my trip from Finland to Sweden, the decision to travel was easy.

SGR table at Scandinavian Gem Symposium

Well-organised event and arrangements


The two main organisers of the event were the Swedish gemologists Conny Forsberg and Jan Asplund. A great thanks to these fine guys for enticing many interesting, top-notch speakers from around the world to come over to Sweden and talk about a very multi-faceted range of gemology related subjects. All the arrangments were well taken care for, the facilites were nice and everything went smoothly, at least from this spectator's view point. Now, Conny and Jan, I hope you can relax a bit! Certainly, the area around Kisa is a beautiful piece of Scandinavia, with rolling hills, noble oak and fir tree forests, nice lakes and a long cultural and industrial history. It was easy to relax in this setting, and an applause is due to the organisers for the location selection as well.


First of its kind in Scandinavia


The Symposium in Kisa, Sweden is a first-of-its-kind to be held in Scandinavia. It is unusual to have such an event with many international talkers presenting a wide range of subjects connected in one way or another with the field of gemology here in the faraway Nordic Region.
Kisa is a small town located in the municipality of Kinda, roughly 250km South-West from Stockholm. I told Conny that at least for myself, the location of the Symposium was spot-on, a really nice selection. But I also had to ask Conny WHY the event was arranged so far away, in a little-known town in the Swedish countryside. The answer was that Conny being a local resident he had good connections for making the arrangements, and hosting an event in Stockholm would have cost an arm and a leg, so to speak. Having lived on and off in Finland for decades, I would tend to agree that the pretty Stockholm maybe isn't so easy on the wallet or traffic-wise, either: been there, seen it, done it many times over.


Storgården in Rimforsa

Excellent accomodation facilities


The accomodation arrangements merit a mentioning, too. As was recommended on the Symposium website, I chose Storgården, which was located some 10-15 minutes' drive from Kisa, nestling by the picturesque little town of Rimforsa. Storgården is a Country Style place offering conference, B&B, and cottage accomodation services up on a hillside. The setting is beautiful and pastoral, and looking down the very gentle slope behind the main buildings, one can rest one's eyes on a calm and equally refreshing lake and forest scenery. Too bad I forgot my swimming trunks at home! After the foolish and boisterous crowds on the Turku-Stockholm boat, it was good to finally get a good nightful of sleep.

Equipment by Magi

One of the sponsors of the event - Magi


On of the two main sponsors of the Symposium were the owners of the Finnish-Italian gemology equipment manufacturer Magi. This company, also known as M & A Gemological Instruments, has its headquarters in Finland. Magi is perhaps the first company to design and sell affordable, highly automatic and top quality products, such as the fully automatic Raman- and photo luminescence spectrometer GemmoRaman, an automatic UV-Vis-NIR spectrometer, and a low-cost FTIR- spectrometer with integrated DRIFT-module. The instruments are designed by gemologists for gemologists, so the use of the equipment should be fairly pain-free, I'm hoping to visit the facilites here in Finland, in order to see if one of these instruments would be suitable for analysing some mineral crystal samples as well.

Peter Lyckberg's presentation on gemstone pegmatites

Peter Lyckberg – a man of many countries and fabulous mineral samples


The widely known mineral collector and expert Peter Lyckberg is known in Finland in particular for his association with the Kännätsalo Beryl Quarry in Luumäki. In previous decades, the quarry produced the best gem beryls ever found in Europe, and having seen the priceless beryl named Elli, currently in the NHM's collection of Helsinki University, one can easily believe this claim.
Peter first spoke about Sweden's geology, gems and scientific history. Sweden has many famous pioneering scientists such as Scheele, Berzelius, Arrhenius, Nobel and so on. Many dozens of chemical elements were discovered by Swedish chemists; one can fairly say the country holds a record here, certainly considering its small population as well.
Many amateur and professional mineralogists are aware of Peter Lyckberg's remarkable mineral career and experiences. Peter started with minerals around the time most kids are usually busy enough just learning to walk! This fascinating and also very friendly man has visited, I understand, over 2000 (or was it 2500?) mines so far - and still counting. Peter showed many pictures with mouth-watering scenes from restricted access sites in Russia (then Soviet Union), huge mind-boggling crystals of quartz and topaz and also rarer pegmatite minerals from all over the world. All I can say is, too bad to those who haven't seen Lyckberg's presentations, and to those who have, you ain't goin to give up that sweet-bitter hobby quite yet after just having seen such a presentation. Perhaps there's still some meagre hope left for the the lesser of us amateurs too, who knows.
Picture of mountain quarries from Peter Lyckberg's presentation



News from the Assay Office of Latvia


Peters Brangulis from the Assay Office of Latvia spoke about recent progress in the field of gemstone hallmarking and analysis services in his country. I found it interesting and a refreshing change to hear about how the identification and analysis services are doing in a Baltic country. In Latvia, as I understood, a lot of gemstone cutting is carried out, but now considerable steps forward in both gemstone hallmarking and consumer guidance, and awareness, have been taken. It seems in general that in even these challenging times, the market's trust in gold and gemstones as solid investment targets has not been shaken much, and that consumers are seeing some hope at the end of the dark tunnel. The better the gemstone market is supervised, and the more informed the buyers are about various aspects of this business, should create a win-win situation, one would think?

Spider-like pyroxene inclusions in obsidian

John Koivula – Ambassador of Internal Beauty


One of the main reasons I myself wanted to visit the Scandinavian Gem Symposium was the fact that the ”inclusionist-visionary” John I. Koivula was coming over to speak about inclusions in minerals. Now, that's really my cup of tea – in addition to all kinds of tea varieties of course. I'm reminded of a Finnish student band song decades ago where they sing about ”Internal beauty being by far the most important in life”
A select bunch of us mineralogically infected have been bit by the FI (fluid inclusion) Fly. Such individuals might be seen as ”off their rockers”, when instead of trying to find gemmy samples or rare pegmatitic micro crystals, they fill minigrip bags with ugly, worthless chips of ordinary quartz, topaz and other common minerals. But hey, when you focus into such ”rubbish” and see the beautiful and amazing inclusions with your microscope, all the frustration and trouble of field trips has suddenly dissapeared.
John Koivula together with Eduard Gübelin have published a 3-volume classic book series on inclusions in gemstones that is unique, and in particular gemologists are well aware of these ”literary gemstones”, and someday one of these volumes will hopefully find my way, too.
John's presentation, Crystalline Showcases, was aptly named, and included (oops!) many very nice pictures with explanations of rare and unusual inclusions. One particular case of sulphur as a reduction product after pyrite was indeed strange: not even iron oxide or hydroxide stains remain as a tell-tale of the former pyrite. I wouldn't imagine it common at all to bump into that kind of stuff. Many other inclusions, such as the hairy or spider-like inclusions of very thin pyroxene in obsidian, were quite intriguing. I hope that Mr. Koivula, who has family roots in Finland (Koivula meaning a place of birch in Finnish), will renew his visit to Sweden's neighbour country Finland, so we can enjoy the fabulous inclusions and exchange interesting words with him. Oh, and John kindly looked at some inclusion pictures of mine, for which a big thanks to him, and to K.K. at GTK for helping out with the "problematic" inclusions.
Another interesting inclusion photo by John Koivula




Conny Forsberg - Commercial or precision cut

Commercial vs Precision cut


Conny Forsberg, one of the organisers and an experienced gemcutter plus gemology trainer, discussed the benefits of precision gemstone cutting versus commerial cuts. As we all know, a vast majority of gemstones is cut in countries of lower labor cost. It seems many customers today sadly are not willing to pay decent compensation for many high quality products that have been hand-crafted, or made of top quality materials. This, and the fact that wholesalers or shop owners in many countries are perhaps struggling to make a decent income, try to retain as much of a precious stone's weight aspossible. Of course, trying to save weight, or time spent on cutting work, can lead to ”over-weight”, or otherwise poorly cut gemstones, that stick out like an ugly stick in mud to the trained eye.
Many retailers can be stuck with an otherwise attractive and fashionable gemstone, if it has facets poorly aligned or at wrong angles to eaach other, if it looks ”bloated”, or does not show colors they way it properly should. Recutting gemstones can make a lot of sense for a jeweller if there are items that just don't seem to be getting off the shelf within a reasonable sales period. The additional profit increase gained from the re-cutting after costs may not be that high, but the result may be a difference of a stone sitting for over a year unsold, to one being snapped up within weeks. And as a last but not not least point, the dealer and the potential buyer will have a piece that is esthetically much more pleasing than before.


Locations and staff of World Gem Foundation

World Gem Foundation – modular and flexible gem training


The second sponsor of the Symposium was the World Gem Foundation, founded by gemologist Geoffrey Dominy in 2015. Mr. Dominy worked for several deacdes in the gem trade in Canada, but is currently based in the Canary Isles.
Some years ago, Geoffrey Dominy was frustrated by certain limitations in gemological training. Why was training occasionally so expensive, and why could't prospective gemologists be trained in their own country, by their own local people, in their own language? In today's harsh economic world of sub-quarterl economics, many and any of us might suddenly be faced with a loss of job, and we have to get used to the thought of re-training for another profession. One of the World Gem Foundation's ”base rocks” is the flexibility of its training programs. There are many modular training units, and each of these can be mainly carried out via remote studies, using either printed or e-media. The compulsory practical work and final written exams can be arranged to be carried out at a location closest to where the student is located. Courses for people just wanting a deeper general knowledge of gemology are also avaiable. Course material is based on digital content, so it can be updated very quickly, to reflect the most current information and technologies available, an additional benefit to the student.


On the History of the Science of Diamonds


During this presentation, Jan Asplund,who is one of the two tireless organisers of the Symposium, spoke about the science history of diamonds. It seems interesting that regardless the huge amount of literature available on diamonds, there apparently doesn't seem to be many works published on the scientifical history of diamond research. Jan spoke about the first known uses of diamonds and discovery of various diamond ”secrets”. It took a long time for mankind to understand that the fabulous diamond was made up of such a common, modest element as carbon. The next important step in cracking or ”cleaving open” the mysteries of diamonds was probably the realization that diamonds were born deep down in the Earth's mantle, under high pressure and temperature. Many attempts, as readers here of course know, were made to artificially create pressures and temperatures suitable to the creation of synthetic diamonds. Finally, various ways of succesfully fitting together both pressure and temperature simultaneously were found in different parts of the world. Today synthetic and in particulaly treated diamonds play an increasingly important role in the gem trading market – which leads us nicely onto the presentation of Dr. Thomas Hainschwang.


Thomas Hainschwang presentation on diamonds.

(R)Evolution of Synthetic and Treated Diamonds


Dr Thomas Hainschwang of GGTL Laboratories held a heavyweight but interesting presentation on the evolution and impact of synthetic and treated diamonds on the gem market. GGTL Laboratories is a company created by a merger of two independent laboratories, GEMLAB laboratories in Lichtenstein and GemTechLab in Switzerlab. The combined expertise and intrumentation resources of GGTL are top-of-the-line. Dr. Hainschang and his colleagues have analysed many well known museum collection pieces and private diamonds, and have created a vast reference library of information on natural diamond varieties, synthetic diamonds, and treated diamonds of all kinds.
It was rather interesting - almost mind-boggling - to hear what kinds of single or multiple treatment methods are applied to diamonds in today's market. The analysis and identification of treatment methods can be rather complex, thus many kinds of spectrometic and other methods are required to obtain correct and reliable results.


Round table talks on ethic and Fair Trade


After the presentations were over, round table talks were carried out on various ethical aspects of the gem trade and on Fair Trade. Most people involved in the gem trade that were present seemed to view ethical issues as an impotant part of today's business processes. A knowledge of the whole production chain, from raw material source to finished product, was seen as desirable, and beneficial to both the professional and the customer. It is, however, not always possible to gain transparent information at all levels, and information falsification or corruption is always a potential factor to deal with in the gem business and other fields of business of course. As for Fair Trade efforts, many improvements have been made. Yet a fair treatment of local miners and other parties involved is not always easy to achieve. There may even be inherent risks in creating too rigid rules or monopolistic governing bodies. All told, there has been progress, and the main point is to keep asking questions, even difficult ones.

Gamla Linköping outdoor museum area

Linköping – Much to experience and Internationally Connected


The city of Linköping with around 100 000 inhabitants, and close to the Symposium town of Kisa, is located about 200km South-West from Stockholm. Linköping is surrounded by beautiful countryside, with also many castles not too far off, and an interesting outdoor museum complex in Gamla Linköping. The Saab airplane factory is also located in this area, and Linköping has an International Airport, so getting to Linköping shouldn't be diffcult at all. As a whole, the area is well-suited for arranging events of various kinds, and there are plenty of opportunites to relax after a long day of conferencing, or other such activities.

Speakers and organisers at the Scandinavian Gem Symposium

Great finish to a fine day


After the day's presentations were over, participants were served a very nice dinner at Storgården. Among other items, fresh pike perch from the local lake was served, as well as an interesting mini-soup served from a cup much smaller than even an average espresso cup. I tried out a local Swedish Ale and certainly is is one of the best ales I have tasted anywhere. The dinner also gave many of us attendants an opportunity for further talks with the various experts & other participants.
Again a special thanks to the organisers Conny & Jan, and let's all hope that another Scandinavian Gem (or Mineral!) Symposium will be arranged in the future.

More information online:


http://gemology.se/index.html
http://www.scandinaviangemacademy.com/
http://www.worldgemfoundation.com/index.html
http://www.microworldofgems.com/aboutjohn.php
http://www.gemmoraman.com/
http://www.prove.lv/
http://www.ggtl-lab.org/




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Comments

Joel
What a great and interesting article.
Thank you for taking the time and effort to put it together

Well
Done

Keith

Keith Compton
25th Jun 2016 12:09am
Thank you, Keith, for your kind words.
This little writing was the least I could do for the well-organised and worthwhile event.

Joel


Joel Dyer
25th Jun 2016 4:59am
Nice article indeed Joel. Mail follows :-)

I was interested to hear that you will be visiting Mikko and taking a closer look at the MAGI equipment. That should be a fun trip! Raman and FTIR spectrometry will work with many minerals.

Best,
Owen

Owen Melfyn Lewis
3rd Jul 2016 11:14am
Joel this is a wonderful overview of the Conference. So glad that you were able to attend and to get so much of it! Thank you for sharing your impressions with the Mindat community!
Best wishes,
Elise

Elise Skalwold
5th Jul 2016 8:03pm

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