There are not many places closer to heaven for a gem and jewellery lover than Carlsbad, California, the world headquarters of the nonprofit GIA (Gemological Institute of America.) Here the art and science of gemmology combine with the luxurious pleasure of sand and surf at the edge of the Pacific Ocean.
Founded in 1931, GIA is recognized as the international authority on diamonds, colored stones, and pearls, and the leading source of knowledge, standards and education in gems and jewellery. The institution established the well-known “4Cs” — Color, Clarity, Cut and Carat Weight — as well as the International Diamond Grading System recognized by professional jewellers around the world. Students come to learn all the trades of gemmology and jewellery, from research to design to manufacturing. They can combine this with online classes or with classes at one of the other campuses around the world.
Many classrooms feature ocean views. The average outside daily temperature is 72 degrees Fahrenheit (about 22 degrees C). With the exception of the secure area where diamonds and other stones are graded, the campus buildings are light and airy. The Richard T. Liddicoat Gemological Library and Information Center contains more than 57,000 books, 150,000 photographs, as well as the Cartier Rare Book Repository and Archive.
The GIA museum’s permanent collection of gems is fascinating in and of itself; however, currently it is celebrating 25 years of jewellery design with a selection of nearly 200 works of jewellery and objets d’art by 40 members of the nonprofit American Jewelry Design Council, including GIA graduates. The AJDC’s mission is to promote American jewellery design, and raise awareness of the aesthetic value of artistic fine jewellery.
“Variations on a Theme: 25 Years of Design from the AJDC” is a traveling exhibition of nearly 200 pieces created by AJDC designers as part of an annual project started in 1996. Each year, one- or two-word themes, such as “water,” or “puzzle” offer designers the opportunity to interpret meaning from their individual perspective. The result is an array of designs with a common thread, each distinctly expressive of its designer, that elevates American jewellery designs as art work sought by collectors and museums.
The Institute’s museum is free. The exhibit will be on display until June 2016.