CGA Gem Conference 2023

Conference 2023 Speakers

Celebrate our 65th year as a Canadian Association!
Here is a list of some of our confirmed Speakers.
More Speakers are being confirmed every week.  Please keep checking back.
Click on name to be taken to Speaker Biographies and Photos. If There is
no link, then we do not have current photos and / or Bios of our speakers.

Renée Newman

Renée Newman developed her interest in gems while conducting tours to Asia, South America and the South Pacific. Her passengers wanted information about the gems displayed in hotels and stores so she signed up for a colored stone grading course at GIA in order to answer their questions. The teachers there inspired her to complete the GIA colored stones and diamonds program.

After receiving a graduate gemologist diploma from the GIA, Renée was hired as a gemologist at a diamond wholesale firm in downtown Los Angeles. It provided hands-on experience grading diamonds and selecting colored gems and pearls for their jewelry. Armed with trade experience and gemological credentials, Renée decided to create books that showed readers how to visually evaluate the quality of gems. Her first book, the Diamond Ring Buying Guide, was published in 1989. Since that time, she has written 13 more books on gems and jewelry, including the Diamond Handbook geared to trade professionals and her new large-format book Diamonds: Their History, Sources, Qualities and Benefits. Information about it is at

Renée’s books are used as consumer guides, gemology course textbooks, sales training tools and appraisal references and are listed at  Renée will be selling her books and autographing them at the conference. Bring cash or a check if you would like to purchase any of them.

Lisa Elser

Lisa Elser living in the Vancouver, BC area.  She spent 25 years in IT working for companies like Bell Laboratories, NCR and Sun Microsystems and consulted to some of the largest banks and insurance companies in the world.

Lisa holds Bachelors and Masters degrees from Rutgers University, as well as advanced courses on Finance from Edinburgh School of Business.    She has lectured around the world on using technology to achieve business goals and was a sought after speaker for conferences and corporate meetings.

She began cutting gems as a hobby when she moved from consulting to managing consultants, finding that it gave her a satisfaction to create something with her own hands.

Lisa trained in gemcutting in Montreux, Switzerland and did her Graduate Gemologist degree with the GIA in Carlsbad, CA.   After a number of years of cutting as a hobby she retired from IT and with her husband Tom founded Custom Cut Gems.  Lisa now works with custom goldsmiths and jewelry designers in North America and Europe.  She and her husband travel the world to buy rough gems.  As the business grew, she and Tom began making grants to support economic development in gem producing countries.  They continue to put a percentage of the profits into projects like well, sanitation, women’s business cooperatives and education.

She’s published articles on topics including rough buying techniques, sawing, faceting “off the diagram” and on the heat treatment of tourmaline.    In addition to her own publications, Lisa has been featured in More Magazine, Jewellery Business Canada, The Gem Guide, and her work appears in Renee Newman’s “Rare Gemstones.”

In 2013, she won the a prestigious American Gem Trade Assoc (AGTA) Spectrum award for her 14.24ct red Tourmaline.  The gem is now in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian Institution.

Dr. Lee A. Groat

Lee Groat graduated from Queen’s University with a B.Sc. (Honours, Geology) in 1982 and from the University of Manitoba with a Ph.D. in 1988. From 1988 to 1989 he was a NATO Postdoctoral Fellow at Cambridge University.

In 2003 Prof. Groat was elected a Fellow of the Mineralogical Society of America, and in 2009 the new mineral groatite was named in his honor.

His main research interests are the geology of gem deposits, pegmatites, the crystal chemistry of minerals, and economic geology.  Professor Groat has published extensively in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He also edited the best-selling 2007 and 2014 “Geology of Gem Deposits” volumes and in 2022 co-wrote (with Dr. David Turner) the textbook “Geology and Mineralogy of Gemstones”.

Professor Groat will be reviewing the latest research on the origin of gem deposits and how to explore for them, especially in remote areas of the Earth.

JP Jutras

Mr. Jutras is a professional mineral exploration geologist with over 30 years of experience in the mineral exploration industry. He has worked in over 15 countries on four continents, with numerous public companies including Placer Dome, Prism Resources, Golden Star Resources, Tyler Resources Inc. and now, Jade Leader Corp.

In the late 1980’s while working in Northern British Colombia, Canada, Mr. Jutras had an opportunity to take some jade samples home from a mine visit. This became the beginning of a parallel avocation to his mineral exploration career now spanning over 30 years as a student and collector of jades from all over the world, gemstone carver, faceter and metalsmith. It was this parallel path which led to Mr. Jutras being invited to participate and compete numerous times as an International carver at the prestigious Zi Gang Bei Jade and Gemstone carving exhibition, Suzhou, Jiangsu Province, where by now he has received both silver and bronze medals for his competition entries. He has recently been a guest speaker on Jade at both the Canadian Gemmological Association (CGA) and the American Gem Trade Association (AGTA).

While competing in China, the scale of recent changes in the Jade industry became obvious, and a one month initial research journey to some of the major Jade carving centers and markets in China was undertaken. This led to the creation of Jade Leader Corp. as it entered the International Jade space and began taking steps to establish itself as a leader in Jade exploration and production.

Jon Phillips GG (GIA), CG (AGS)

Jon has been in the jewellery business for over 40 years and worked in all of its “facets”. He was recently the Divisional Manager for Canadian Diamonds at Corona Jewellery Company Ltd. in Toronto, Canada. Part of Jon’s responsibilities included managing the rough to polish systems for Canadian Diamonds including the purchasing of rough directly from mining companies to working with diamond polishing factories to produce the final product.

Jon was also the lead instructor for Corona and traveled worldwide to promote Canadian diamonds and gold. Jon is also well known for his presentations on diamond market conditions and on synthetic diamonds in the jewellery industry.

Jon worked for BHP Billiton Diamonds as a Marketing Manager in both Vancouver and Antwerp and as a service Manager for Birks in Vancouver. He was a part time instructor at Vancouver Community College in the Jewellery Art and Design program.

Jon and his wife Carol ran their own custom jewellery business in Vancouver for fifteen years, which is where Jon obtained his training as a journeyman goldsmith. Jon currently writes the Diamond Market News for the Gem Guide’s bi-monthly newsletter out of Chicago.

Jon is a Graduate Gemologist (GG) from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and President of the Vancouver Chapter of the GIA Alumni Collective.

Jon is the past chair of the Assurance Committee of the Responsible Jewellery Council (RJC) and a past member of the Standards Committee. He has served as a board member for the Canadian Jewellers Association and is a past vice-president of the diamond commission for CIBJO and a past President of the Canadian Diamond Code of Conduct Committee (CDCC).

Gary A. Roskin, GIA GG, FGA

Gary Roskin, graduate gemologist, author, gemstone photographer, and journalist, is the Editor in Chief of the Roskin Gem News Report.

Former CEO for the International Colored Gemstone Association, Senior Gemstone Editor for JCK Magazine, and the Baselworld Daily News, Roskin has covered the international colored gems and diamonds market, as well as gemological subjects on diamonds, and the estate gemstone/jewelry market for close to four decades.

With years of professional experience in areas including laboratory diamond grading, supervising, training, monitoring, and reporting, Roskin has provided jewelers and appraisers valuable diamond grading tips and techniques. Gary is the author of “Photo Masters for Diamond Grading.”

Roskin began his career as a fourth-generation retail jeweler in Marion, Indiana. He studied at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Santa Monica, California, and worked there from 1977 through 1992; 6 years as Assistant to the Director of the Los Angeles GIA Gem Trade Lab, 3 years as a resident gemology instructor in both diamond grading and colored stone/gem identification, and 5 years as Executive Director of the GIA Alumni Association. From 1992 through 1997, Roskin was Assistant Director for the European Gem Lab in Los Angeles.

Roskin is a Graduate Gemologist and Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. Gary has been the recipient of many awards, including the International Society of Appraiser’s Media Award for his feature story entitled, “Bad Appraising Lands Good Jeweler in Court,” several Richard T. Liddicoat Journalism Awards Honorable Mentions from the American Gem Society, and a shared 2nd place award in Gems & Gemology’s Dr. Edward J. Gübelin Most Valuable Article Award, as a co-author of “Synthetic Gem Materials in the 2000s: A Decade in Review.”

Gary was just presented the Antonio C. Bonanno Award for Excellence in Gemology from the Accredited Gemologists Association.

Richard Drucker GG (GIA)

Richard Drucker is the founder and president emeritus of Gemworld International, Inc. in Glenview, Illinois. His credentials include: Graduate Gemologist of the Gemological Institute of
America; Honorary Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain; Senior Member of the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers; Senior Gemologist, Accredited Gemologists

As a third generation in the jewelry industry, he began a pricing publication in 1982 now known as the GemGuide. This publication is used in more than 40 countries and is the industry leader
in gem pricing and market information. In 2002, he became the owner of GemGuide Appraisal Software. In 2014 he co-developed the World of Color nomenclature and grading system for
colored gemstones. In 2020, he collaborated with Jewelers Mutual Insurance to develop appraisal software for retail jewelers powered by Gemworld.

In 2006, Drucker was bestowed the Antonio C. Bonanno Excellence in Gemology industry award. In 2012 he was awarded honorary fellowship in the Gemmological Association of Great
Britain (FGA). In 2019 he was awarded the Diamond Award from the Canadian Gemmological Association. In 2022, he was named as president of the Gemmological Association of Great
Britain, an ambassador and board position. Drucker now serves as publisher, consultant, lecturer, and author. He has hosted five international gemological conferences brining
gemologists, jewelers and appraisers together from around the world.