Welcome to AGTA GTC's Laboratory Update for January 19, 2006

In this message

  1. Update on AGTA GTC Mobile Laboratory in Tucson
  2. Seeing Red: Genetics & Color Vision
  3. AGTA GTC's John Koivula Coauthors New Book
  4. AGTA GTC Staff Speak in Tucson
  5. Thanks to our Donors
  6. AGTA GTC on the Web

Current turnaround time at the AGTA GTC
5–7 Business Days

The AGTA GTC Mobile Laboratory Facility Opens on
Tuesday, January 31, 2006 at AGTA GemFair Tucson

Once again, the AGTA Gemological Testing Center (AGTA GTC) will be participating in AGTA GemFair Tucson. Note that the AGTA GTC Mobile Laboratory Facility will be opening on January 31st, one day before the AGTA GemFair Tucson (which runs February 1–6, 2006). This will allow vendors to have their gemstones tested so they are ready for sale during the show.

Submissions to New York
We know that our clients are now busy preparing for the Tucson GemFair. In order to have lab reports available for the Tucson show, we offer the following:

  • Gemstones submitted to our New York office no later than Monday, January 23rd will be ready by Friday, January 27th.
  • 2-Day Express Service at an additional charge is available for gemstones submitted on Tuesday, January 24th and Wednesday, January 25th.
  • If you are unable to submit your gemstones under the above timetable, please bring them with you to Tucson. They can then be submitted for testing at our Portable Lab Facility, beginning on setup day (Tuesday, January 31st), from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

     Clients who will not be in Tucson should be aware that, with all our gemologists in Tucson, reports for gemstones submitted to New York from now through February 8th will not be ready before the middle of February.

Mobile Laboratory Facility
Our Mobile Laboratory Facility provides a wide range of gemstone testing services onsite during GemFair. The AGTA GTC has a reputation for providing excellent service, superior value and outstanding quality. AGTA reports give your clients the confidence they need when purchasing color. Services include:

  • Identification reports for all kinds of gemstones
  • Country-of-origin reports for ruby, sapphire and emerald

     GemFair and the AGTA GTC Mobile Laboratory Facility are located at the Tucson Convention Center. The address is 260 S. Church Ave. The AGTA GTC Portable Lab Facility is located in the Onyx Suite on the main level.
     The AGTA GTC Mobile Laboratory Facility opens one day before GemFair. The laboratory is open Tuesday, January 31st to February 6th, 2006. Hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. January 31st to February 5th and 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. February 6th.


Seeing Red: Genetics and color vision

Few phenomena are more remarkable or complex than the sensation of color. It pervades every moment of our lives, from the red-orange of sunrise to the depths of our dreams. Even our emotions reflect the sensation of color. We "feel blue," grow "green with envy" and "red with anger." A recent discovery sheds important light on one aspect of human color vision – that of seeing red.
     It has long been known that men suffer color blindness at greater rates than women. While some eight percent of men are afflicted by this malady, color blindness occurs in but 0.5% of women. Despite these numbers, we always took solace in the fact that, among color normal individuals, there were apparently no important differences between the abilities of men and women.
     Not so fast, says Brian Verrelli of Arizona State University and Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Maryland. According to their recent study, even men who aren't color blind may see the world differently than women. And guess who picked the short straw? That's right, guys, it's us. Seems those old stereotypes about women having a superior sense of color may be true after all.

Red fruit

Figure 1. Does the often-superior red sensitivity of women's color vision result from a need to distinguish edible from poisonous fruit? And should wholesale ruby dealers now be considering hiring more women? Photo: R.W. Hughes/© AGTA GTC; fruit by Joan Allen

     The scientists focused on a gene that allows humans to see red, a gene found only on the X chromosome. Variations in this gene can allow expanded color vision. Since men have only one X chromosome compared to the two women possess, they get one less crack at this expanded vision.
     According to a recent article:

Brian Verrelli of Arizona State University and Sarah Tishkoff of the University of Maryland analyzed genetic data from 236 people from around the world. Specifically, they studied a gene on the X chromosome known as OPN1LW, which codes for a protein that detects visible light in the red spectrum. Exchange of material between this gene and a neighboring gene associated with green light leads to a high amount of genetic variation but can result in color blindness if the process goes awry. Among the study participants the researchers found 85 variants of the gene. "That's approximately three times higher than what you see at any other random gene in the human genome," Tishkoff says. "Usually it's a bad thing to have too much change in a gene, and natural selection gets rid of it. But in this case we're seeing the reverse."

     Such variations have been preserved throughout evolution and are thought to be beneficial. The two scientists speculate that it might have begun in the prehistoric era, where acute color vision was of use in separating poisonous crimson berries from their edible burgundy cousins. Since women did much of the gathering (while men did the hunting), women developed better red sensitivity.

Note: Thanks to Donald Allen for suggesting the above article. In future newsletters we will take a look at other aspects of color and color vision.


AGTA GTC's John Koivula coauthors major new book
The AGTA GTC is extremely proud to announce the publication of the Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, Volume 2. Coauthored by the AGTA GTC's chief gemologist, John Koivula, this volume has been nearly two decades in the making. Sadly, Koivula's coauthor, Eduard Gübelin, passed away shortly before publication. A third volume is planned for publication in the summer of 2006.

Photoatlas 2 cover

Front and back covers of the Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, Volume 2 by Eduard J. Gübelin and John I. Koivula.


Upcoming AGTA GTC Speeches at AGTA GemFair Tucson
Because of their expertise, members of the AGTA GTC’s staff are often called on to give lectures to the trade and public. Below is the lecture schedule for AGTA GTC staff members during the upcoming Tucson gem show.

Tucson: Accredited Gemologists Association

  • Origin determination
    John Koivula, AGTA Gemological Testing Center
    Wednesday, February 1, 2006
    9:00–11:00 AM,  Marriott University Park, Tucson, Arizona

Tucson 2006Tucson AGTA GemFair
February 1–6, 2006
Tucson, AZ
As every year, the AGTA GTC’s staff will be giving various lectures during the Tucson AGTA GemFair. Here's the schedule:

  • AGTA Gemological Testing Center Update
    Dr. Lore Kiefert, AGTA Gemological Testing Center
    Thursday, February 2, 2006
    9:00–10:00 AM,  Graham Room
    A “Scotland Yard” of the gemstone industry, the AGTA Gemological Testing Center encounters unusual suspects in the midst of fine upstanding gemstone submissions.  Sometimes these suspects are up to no good – draining consumer confidence and consequently your profitability. You no doubt recall when the AGTA Laboratory notified the industry that beryllium-treated sapphires were appearing immediately prior to the gathering of the industry in Tucson in 2002. Learn what we are seeing now and how we go about detection.
  • Tales of Adventure in Colored Gemstone Locales: Madagascar and Burma
    Richard Hughes, AGTA Gemological Testing Center
    Thursday, February 2, 2006
    1:00–2:00 PM, Graham Room
    Colored gemstones are among the most exotic items your jewelry clients may ever own. Supply depends not on demand, but on lucky finds, whether luck is aided by gemological knowledge, or whether luck means finding what you didn’t know you were looking for. Hard-to-reach locations, government corruption, difficult mining situations affected by climate – natural colored gemstones are just not easy to obtain. From seasoned gem hunter Richard Hughes, learn first-hand what it takes to bring colored gemstones to your store. Hughes will be joined by Vincent Pardieu of the AIGS in Bangkok.
  • Origin Determinations and Lab Reports
    Dr. Lore Kiefert, AGTA Gemological Testing Center
    Friday, February 3, 2006
    9:00–10:00 AM, Greenlee Room
    Country of origin remains one of the mysteries of the colored gemstone industry. A definitive statement of country of origin on a written laboratory report is desired by AGTA members and other gemstone dealers, by retailers, and jewelry consumers. Yet many reports are issued without this information. What can a lab accurately determine, and how definitive is the AGTA GTC in addressing country of origin?
  • Inclusions Tour (OFFERED TWICE)
    John Koivula, AGTA Gemological Testing Center
    Saturday, February 4, 2006
    9:00–10:00 AM and again at 1:00–2:00 PM, Graham Room
    Over the years, AGTA Gemological Testing Center scientist John Koivula has amassed a personal collection of gemstones that challenge and stimulate the gemologists who encounter them. In addition, he’s devoted significant attention to documenting the interesting, the surprising, and the revealing inclusions in gemstones. Tour this fascinating world of inclusions with the industry’s superb guide via detailed slides.


Thanks to our Donors
The AGTA GTC occasionally receives support from members above and beyond the support that the AGTA itself has so kindly supplied over the years. We would like to acknowledge the follow AGTA members who have so kindly supplied us with special support:

  • Bear Williams of Bear Essentials, for the gift of a UV spectrophotometer
  • Jan Goodman of Jan Goodman Co., for the gift of daylight fluorescent tubes

We greatly appreciate the support that these members and so many others have given us over the years. Thanks!


AGTA GTC on the Web
A number of clients have asked us to consider making our gemological bulletins available to a wider audience. Towards that aim, over the past few months we have built a website specifically for the AGTA Gemological Testing Center. It is now live and offers a complete archive of our e-mail bulletins, along with a full description of the lab and its services.
     See it at www.agta-gtc.org or link from AGTA’s regular site, www.agta.org.

AGTA on the web

The new AGTA GTC website offers the most up-to-the-minute gemological news, along with a full description of the lab and its services.


The AGTA Gemological Testing Center provides the industry and the public with a complete range of lab services, including gemstone identification, origin determination and pearl identification. Located in New York City, the laboratory is equipped with the latest, technologically advanced, investigative equipment. The AGTA GTC is committed to providing excellent service, superior value and outstanding quality. A complete list of services and detailed pricing information is available on our website, www.agta-gtc.org. Please contact us with any questions.

American Gem Trade Assocation Gemological Testing Center
18 East 48th St., Suite 502
New York, NY 10017, USA
Tel: 212-752-1717; Fax: 212-750-0930
E-Mail: info@agta-gtc.org; Web: www.agta-gtc.org
© 1999–2005 American Gem Trade Assocation Gemological Testing Center. All rights reserved. Users may download this information for their own private, non-commercial use. Any other reproduction of this document (text or graphics) without the express written consent of the AGTA GTC is strictly prohibited.
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