CIGem News Summer 2015

ISSN 0846-3611 GEMMOLOGY CANADA – Wolf Kuehn, F.G.G., F.G.A.(diploma holder since 1985), Editor

From the Editor:

The summer is in full swing with record high temperatures; I wish everyone a relaxing holiday season.

The 1st Mediterranean Gem and Jewellery Conference in Athens was a great success with several diamond manufacturers in attendance. I will report about interesting contributions in the next Gemlab Newsletter.

Of great concern to me is an ongoing campaign by a Facebook group  attacking the current administration of Gem-A; the matter is now out in the public and should be further investigated (see below). For the upcoming AGM on July 29 I urge all FGAs with voting rights to elect Trustees who will serve the Association in a competent and professional manner.

Please mark August 14 – 16 for the Vancouver Gem & Mineral Show; the Canadian Institute of Gemmology and Gemlab Research & Technology will exhibit there and offer gem identification services demonstrating our newest GL Gem Spectrometer,  GL Analyzer PL405 Kit and the GL Gem Raman PL532 .

Gem-A Annual General Meeting, July 29

For some time developments at Gem-A have given rise to concern; more recently a Facebook group has started publicly slandering existing Gem-A board members with the intent to bring the whole board of trustees down and replace it with their own nominees. [Editor: many posts at the offensive ‘Friends of Gem-A’ Facebook page have been selectively removed; however, carefully evaluate the posters who are either nominees or have endorsed them]

I am asking all F.G.A.s to make their voices heard and vote in the upcoming AGM; members in good standing should soon be receiving a list with nominees and instructions of how to vote by proxy. Please check and question the backgrounds, agendas, competence in UK association law and potential conflict of interest (Gem-A is the sole UK agent for “nominee’s” company, etc.) of those named for election by the above Facebook group: Ronnie Bauer, Alberto Scarani, Guy Clutterbuck, Michael Hoare, John Bradshaw, Kathryn Bonanno and Greg Valerio. Do not believe anything on mere hearsay!

On another matter: For some time Gem-A has started to bestow Honorary Fellowships to members of the trade who made major contributions to gemmology. Unfortunately a number of individuals awarded with the F.G.A. (Hon.) designation do not display this fact with their credentials; I consider this practice unprofessional and damaging to the standing and reputation of all FGA diploma holders who have EARNED this prestigious membership designation. In the past candidates had to pass rigorous and challenging examinations before being admitted into the Association as a Fellow.

Further Information about iPetition

I agree fully with Dr. Jack Ogden, previous CEO of Gem-A  in his response to allegations by the above Facebook group (Note: it was first published for Gem-A members on Gem-Talk but has since been released to the public by Sara Abey):

Dear all,

Like most of you I await details of the AGM (soon please) and hope to hear what has really been happening, as much as any legal processes allow.

Also like many of you I despair at the appalling way this whole campaign in support of the CEO has been managed. It seems to have started with the iPetition and gone downhill since then. The Petition itself was so poorly thought-out that it seems extraordinary that it swept up so many in its wake.

Let’s start with the iPetition, with comments

  • Postponement of the AGM without explanation or an alternative date

If there is any aspect of the finances that the Board considers prevents them from ‘signing off’ the Annual Accounts, the AGM has to be postponed. Straightforward. Happened a few years ago with no outcry.

  • All staff members instructed to have no contact with the CEO, without explanation.

If there is a potential disciplinary action in the offing, this is hardly surprising.

  • Withdrawal of Corporate Social Responsibility programme from recent prospectus and website, without explanation (note CSR/ ethics and sustainability are core to the Charity’s Aims and Objectives …. )

If the Board considers that a CSR programme is not appropriate, then this is one way of dealing with it. Maybe a bit unusual? Obviously one has to ask whether the CEO had not stopped it sooner despite requests from the Board to do so? The Petition shouldn’t have quoted that Charity Commission stuff – I wrote it and the intent was simply to say the Gem-A had to retain a watching brief on what was happening in the whole ethical field. I never considered it right for a Gemmological education body to provide courses in the area. Perhaps better questions from Members are whether Greg Valerio was being paid by Gem-A to be involved in this (if so I’d understand him being peeved) and why the CEO hasn’t completed the required Charity Return forms for 2011, 2012 and 2013 (the requirement was scrapped in 2014). Transparency please.

  • Alleged resignation of the Chairman, without formal announcement or explanation

The Chairman is and has always been appointed by the Board at a ballot at a Board meeting. The Members have no say. In theory the Board could appoint a different Chair for every meeting. Chairs come and go (for various reasons) and in the past no communication was issued unless some thanks were later expressed in Gems and Jewellery magazine.

  • Board has been non-responsive to formal enquiries and concerns, resulting in a lack of transparency and communication

Can’t comment on this, but if at heart there is some potential disciplinary action (or investigation to see if one was needed) discretion is unavoidable.

  • Lack of treasurer in recent months

Really? A ‘Treasurer’ in an organisation with a CEO and elected Board is viewed as a vestigial organ – totally unnecessary. There never was one my time as CEO (9 years) and if they did appoint one, I imagine a CEO would be deeply insulted. There is an Audit Committee which includes at least one Board member and the independent Auditors for the Annual Accounts.

  • Refusal by the Board to sign Conflict of Interest forms

All of the Board? This is a bit of a side-show anyway, conflict of interest forms are seemingly not a necessity, even just having a Conflicts of Interest policy is optional (according to the Charity Commission). The provisions in the Gem-A Memorandum and Articles of Association and Charity regulations regarding Board Members’ conflicts of interest are sufficiently robust to make individual forms redundant. This is not one-sided, the Charity Commission recommends similar Conflict of Interest considerations for the CEO of an organisation such as Gem-A.

  • Staff have repeatedly asked for decisions to be explained and evidenced in writing and have been repeatedly ignored. Board have dictated action without due explanation.

Doesn’t sound great… But maybe we should hear the staff’s point of view in due course (in the spirit of transparency again). In the absence of a CEO in an organisation like Gem-A it is traditional for the Chairman to take over.

  • Coercion of staff members

Ditto – but I remind staff that ‘whistle-blowing’ is protected under UK employment law. I assume the Petition implies coercion by the Board, not by the CEO?

  • The dismissal of the Human Resources manager. The replacement (brought in by the Board) has not been properly introduced to all staff.

Gem-A’s Board started outsourcing HR to a specialist consultancy company many years ago who allocated a guy to it. Of necessity this person develops a very close working relationship, even friendship, with the CEOs since there are many sensitive issues they have to handle together. If and when a problem between Board and CEO arises, a change of HR person is essential if the process is to be seen as unbiased and transparent. Introducing a consultant to all the staff may be a nicety, but with the apparently serious stuff going on neglecting this is hardly a major crime.

So, in all, a bit of a non-starter…

I must admit that I initially assumed that the CEO was behind this ‘revolt’, trying to get friends onto the Board to change the balance of power to best ensure he can remain in place, but the seeming lack of familiarity with Gem-A’s working, Charity requirements and Company law suggest not. If he had, I could understand him wanting support, but it is such a shame that it has all degenerated into an unethical, mud-slinging, ill-informed campaign being played out in public.

One other point, having non-UK Board members for a UK charity is not contrary to Charity Commission guidelines, but they have to be in a minority. Having a handful of non-UK board members is a good idea – it has been raised in the past – but it would be a new thing for Gem-A and raises issues that should have been formally settled in advance. For example, Gem-A pays Board members’ travel expenses to meetings and if we pay one to come from Edinburgh why not Hong Kong? Current individuals may well waive claiming such costs, but procedures need to be properly agreed by Members and documented for the future. Before (or concurrent) with nominating non-UK Board members, the nominators or the CEO might have usefully proposed relevant new clauses for the Gem-A Governing documents so Members understand the ramifications of non-UK Boards members and any potential for future complications reduced. One such clause would be to cover what happens if elections (or Board resignations) result in non-UK Board members no longer being in the minority.

I’m not arguing for one side or the other here, I’d hate to be in James’s position, but I do urge Members and new nominees to the Board not to be caught up in a band-wagon revolt against the present Board that if not intelligently handled could derail Gem-A for a generation.

I’m reminded of Monty Python’s ‘Life of Brian’ where the Popular Liberation Front of Judea demanded nothing less than the complete dismantlement of the Roman Empire.

Dr Jack Ogden FSA

Gem Forum Friday, Nov. 13, 2015
The fall meeting of members of the “Gem Connoisseur Club”, students and friends of the Canadian Institute of Gemmology; all Accredited Gemmologists (C.I.G.) and former C.I.G. students are welcome.  Program TBA soon.

Advanced Gem Identification (GEM 250)

The following course is an up-date course  for A.G. (C.I.G.) diploma holders and graduates of other schools and institutes; it is recommended as an introduction to the use of advanced gem testing equipment.

In this advanced course students will learn state-of-the-art techniques (including immersion-scope, gemstone magnetism, IR-VIS-NIR and Raman spectroscopy), etc. designed to identify confidently any gemstone encountered in the market place. Between 100 and 120 challenging gems including the most recent synthetics and treatments are available for testing.

  • Fee: $ 995 includes comprehensive study guide, Gemstone Inclusion Library, use of lab equipment and study stones. Recommended optional study materials: Gemology by Peter Read, Handbook of Gemmology 2015 (3rd edition)
  • Date: Sat – Tue, November 14 – 17, 2015, 9:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.
  • Location: Sandman Signature Hotel – Vancouver Airport, Richmond B.C. (special room rate). Please register by October 15, 2015
  • Prerequisites: A.G. (C.I.G.) diploma or equivalent (please contact us)

Here a brief list of man-made gems in our study collection: Chatham, Kashan, Ramaura, Knischka, Lechleitner, Regency, Biron, Lenix, Gilson, Tairus rubies, sapphires, emeralds, alexandrite, opal, moissanite, synthetic CVD and HPHT grown and treated diamonds and many others. Gem enhancement techniques such as heat-alteration, surface colour diffusion, irradiation, HPHT and glass filling are studied.

Hands-on exercises with our portable in-house developed GL Gem Spectrometer and GL Gem Raman system. Practicing gemmologists may use this lab class to up-grade their skills.

Please register here. View/Download and read carefully our refund policy (PDF).