Our Staff – The best in the business
When it comes to gem testing, the AGTA GTC is a gemological dream team. We are a modest group, and so allow us to let our accomplishments speak for themselves.

  • Experience. Gemology is all about experience. Our gemologists have over one hundred years of collective gem-testing experience (an average of over twenty years per gemologist). When you submit a gemstone to the AGTA GTC, it is not just in good hands, it is in the best hands.
  • Innovation. Our staff gemologists have been at the cutting edge of gemology for over four decades. During that period, they have authored or co-authored a staggering 1000+ papers and articles, along with four major gemological books recognized as among the finest in the field. No other lab of our size even comes close. Our publications are on the desks of gem labs around the world, these are the reference works they consult when they have a question. Which speaks for itself.
  • Individual attention. Like a fine French restaurant, with us you will deal with real people. Your precious stone will not be tested by a trainee, not by Employee #327 (out of 650), but by real people with real names and real experience. Each gem submitted to the AGTA GTC is examined by a minimum of two world-class gem experts. And when you call with a question during our office hours, you will speak with a real human being – first time and every time.

So just who are we? Here are some brief profiles of our gemological team and support staff:


Support Staff

Dr. Lore Kiefert – Laboratory Director
Lore Kiefert (born in Heidelberg, Germany) began studying Mineralogy in 1981. In 1987, she obtained her Master's degree with a thesis on the distinguishing characteristics of sapphires (natural vs. synthetic as well as different origins). After this, she changed direction and went to Australia to gain her Ph.D. on the composition of desert dust.
    In April 1994 she joined the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute, beginning her distinguished gemological career. Lore joined the SSEF, when the organization was located in Zürich, as Assistant Director. The SSEF moved to Basel in the same year.
     Lore was awarded her Ph.D. in 1996 and her FGA (Diploma in Gemmology) early in 1998, and was appointed Director of the SSEF Colored Stones Department in 2000.
    Apart from a large number of scientific and gemological papers, Lore has contributed to the
Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy and the Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy in Art and Archaeology. She has lectured at numerous scientific and gemological conferences in Australia, South Africa, the United States, England, Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Holland, Germany, and various places in Switzerland.
    Lore brings great expertise both in colored gemstone identification and origin determination to the GTC.

Garry Du Toit – Laboratory Manager
Garry Du Toit came to gemology in the 1980s, following extensive travels around the world (including an epic trek to the famous Kashmir sapphire mines). He began his studies at Bangkok’s Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences and upon graduation began working at AIGS to develop a line of gem testing instruments. He later went on to work as Research Gemologist at the AIGS lab, a position he held from 1991–1998.
     Garry joined the AGTA GTC upon its inception in May 1998. His responsibilities include:

  • Identification of all gem materials submitted for examination and the production of reports that describe the findings of the investigation.
  • Advanced gem-testing techniques, such as energy dispersive X-ray fluorescence, x-radiography, Fourier-transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), UV-visible-near infrared spectroscopy and Raman spectroscopy.

     His specialty is Raman spectroscopy, for which he is considered one of the world's experts in its application to gemology. Garry has also co-authored a number of papers in publications around the world.

Riccardo Befi – Senior Gemologist
Riccardo Befi, a native of Cervinara (AV), Italy, became interested in gemstones in 1987, when  a friend from Jaipur (India) stopped by his house  to show him some gemstones. The view of sparkling rubies, sapphires, tourmalines, peridots and other gems opened a new path that brought him to New York.
     In January 1988, after finishing a gemstone cutting course in Cavalese (Italy) and the GIA Colored Gemstone course, he moved to New York City. In the following months he earned his Graduate Gemologist diploma from the GIA. Upon graduation, Riccardo was hired by the GIA, where he worked two years in their New York diamond-grading lab.
     After leaving the GIA he moved to Carven French, a  prestigious  jewelry firm, in the gemology and quality control department, followed by several years directing the Diamond Grading and Colored Gemstone department at IGI.
     Finally, when the opportunity to work in a lab specializing in colored gemstones appeared in 2003, he grabbed it. “The amazing team, the possibility of using the most sophisticated gemological instruments, the challenges we face every day, these things make my work at AGTA GTC so rewarding. For me, it’s like being in heaven,” he says.

John I. Koivula – Chief Gemologist
John I. Koivula has spent forty-four years studying and photographing the microworld of gemstones. At the start of his professional career, John worked in the mining industry as a field geologist for Cominco American. He then worked for the Gemological Institute of America finishing his 29-year career as Chief Research Gemologist.
     He has published more than 800 articles and notes on gemstone inclusions and related topics, and is a contributor to several books including the American Geological Institute's
Glossary of Geology, Robert Webster's Gems, and the GIA's Diamond Dictionary. John is co-author of the Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, and author of The MicroWorld of Diamonds. With Dr. E. Gubelin, he is completing Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones: Volume 2, to be published in 2005.
     John holds university degrees in geology and chemistry, and is also a G.G., C.G., and an F.G.A. He was awarded a fellowship in the Royal Microscopical Society, and serves on the executive board of the
International Gemmological Conference group (IGC).
     He is an honorary life member of the Finnish Gemmological Society and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, and was named as one of the 64 most influential people of the 20th century in the jewelry industry by
Jewelers' Circular Keystone Magazine. His awards include the Robert M. Shipley and Richard T. Liddicoat awards from the American Gem Society, the Scholarship Foundation Award from the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and the Antonio C. Bonanno Award for excellence in gemology by the international Accredited Gemologists Association.
     John is one of the world's foremost practical gemologists and he brings an enormous amount of gemological expertise to the AGTA GTC.

Richard W. Hughes – Gemological Administrator
Richard W. Hughes is one of the world's foremost authorities on ruby and sapphire. A Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, his first book, the highly regarded Corundum, was published in 1990. Richard's latest book Ruby & Sapphire is the standard work on the subject and is considered among the finest monographs ever written on a single gem species. He also contributed several chapters to Robert Webster's Gems.
    While a native of the United States, Richard has spent close to half his life in Asia, where his interest in gemstones was first kindled. Richard graduated from Bangkok's Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in 1979; shortly thereafter he was invited to join their staff. He was later appointed executive vice-president, a position he held for close to a decade. Under his directorship, the institute blossomed into one of the world's leading facilities in gemological education.
    Richard has traveled to scores of countries in search of gemstones and authored over a hundred articles on all aspects of the gem and jewelry trades. His writings have appeared throughout Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia and are notable for their distinctive style. In 2004 and 2005, articles he co-authored won the Richard T. Liddicoat award from the American Gem Society; three of his other articles have received honorable mentions.
    In addition to his writings, Richard is much in demand as a speaker and has delivered lectures across the globe. He is also an excellent webmaster, and was responsible for the creation of Pala International’s award-winning Palagems.com site, as well as this site. He maintains his own personal site, Ruby-Sapphire.com, where many of his unique writings can be found.
    Richard currently works alongside John Koivula at the West Coast branch of the AGTA GTC.

Control Room Staff

Shwewar Yee – Office Manager
Shwewar was born in Yangon, Burma (Myanmar) and obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Business Information Technology from the University of Central Lancashire in the UK. As she is interested in business management since she was young, she went to the Business School shortly after she graduated. She later gained a Master’s Degree in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Birmingham, also in the UK.
     Prior to joining the AGTA GTC in June 2004, Shwewar gained extensive customer service and management experience from a soap manufacturing company, where she worked as an Assistant Manager for over two years.
     In her current position as Office Manager of AGTA GTC, Shwewar has found the perfect opportunity to blend her prior academic and business experience. She creates a fun working atmosphere with high productivity and efficiency her top priority. Most importantly, she strives to build excellent customer relationships, while delivering the fastest possible turnaround time.

Judy Chia – Office Assistant
Judy Chia was born and raised in Myanmar (Burma) and came to the US in 1991. From 1995–1998 Judy worked in the customer relations department of Aries Diamond. Her friendly manner in dealing with customers brought her to the attention of an astute AGTA member, who suggested she join the staff of the AGTA GTC.
    Judy has been with AGTA GTC administrative team since August 1999 and has proven invaluable in the front office. She is experienced in all facets of our Control Room procedures, including shipping and receiving, tracking status and follow-up on in-house accounts. She is detail oriented and efficient, which allows her to keep on top of production, providing the team with the latest output figures.
    Judy’s many years of experience allow her to provide our clients with the best of service. Exceptional service is the key to our success. Judy exemplifies all we strive for – high efficiency, always delivered with a smile.

Min Htut – Photographer
A native of Myanmar (Burma), Min Htut graduated with a Bachelor degree from the University of Rangoon. Soon after gaining Diploma in French and Certificate in Diplomatic Skills, he worked as Administrative Assistant for Mercier Developpement, a French firm and sub-contractor of TOTAL Oil Company for four years. He later served as Administrative assistant and Translator at the French Embassy’s Consular Section in Rangoon for four years.
    Min Htut joined the AGTA GTC in June 2002. Despite having no previous experience, Min Htut taught himself digital photography and is now our resident Photoshop Wizard, being responsible for the beautiful gemstone images that grace our ID and Origin reports. He is also detail oriented, and so does much of the proofing of our reports, catching typos wherever they might lurk.

Hpone-Phyo K. Nyunt – Customer Support Assistant
Hpone-Phyo K. Nyunt, joined the GTC Control Room team at the end of December 2004. He is a native of Myanmar (Burma), where his family has a history in gemstones and jewelry. Hpone came to the US in 2001 and has studied computer and electrical engineering at Northern Illinois and Columbia Universities. He is an experienced customer support assistant who is also proficient in the domestic and international shipping. Hpone also has extensive experience with data entry and inventory control. Hpone's experience adds to that of an already well-tuned Control Room.

Stasha Maletic – Office AssistantStasha Maletic
Born in the former Yugoslavian Republic of Slovenia, Stasha Maletic graduated from Novi Sad Teacher's College in 1988. Following graduation, she worked as a teacher with third and fourth graders in her native Yugoslavia for four years. Stasha later worked as office manager and HR administrator for a computer consulting company. Her fluency in two Slavic languages as well as English helped to successfully manage staff in both US and European office. The opportunity to join AGTA in October 2005 gave Stasha the chance to gain experience in a different field, where she is eager to learn and prove herself once again.

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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