Session – Recent Advances in our Understanding of Gem Minerals

Simply due to their ‘beauty’, gems have fascinated and allured humankind for millennia. They are found on every continent, occur in many different geological environments, and have formed since the earth began. The gem industry is valued at billions of dollars every year and employs many people across the globe. It is especially important for many small local communities and developing nations throughout Africa and Asia. However, scientific investigations and exploration for gem minerals by professional companies are relatively limited compared to other economic minerals. Nevertheless, during the last decade large investments by mining companies in exploration led to the discovery of important economic deposits of emerald in Zambia, and ruby in Greenland and Mozambique, and opened up the field to new scientific research on exceptional deposits. In recent years, technological advances (especially in laser ablation ICP-MS and in situ oxygen isotope analysis) have allowed us to even determine the precise geographic location of cut gems of unknown provenance to a large degree of certainty.

This symposium encompasses recent studies on gem minerals, including their characterisation, conditions of formation, geographic typing, their properties, exploration for gem deposits, and gem synthesis/treatments. All gem minerals are included, from the most valuable and precious rubies and emeralds, to sapphires, spinels, opals, topaz, garnets, silica varieties, rare gem minerals, and many others. We also welcome studies on new gem mineral discoveries and reinvestigation of historic gem fields.


Session convenor

Dr Ian Graham (Australia)

University of New South Wales



  • Professor Lee Groat
  • Professor Gaston Giuliani