Chris Smith is a 25 year veteran of the gem and jewelry industry with a distinguished international career. He began his interest in gemology in 1986, when he joined the GIA Laboratory, then in Los Angeles, CA, after graduating from their graduate gemologist and graduate jeweler's programs. Although initially a diamond grader, he quickly transitioned into the Gem Identification department where he worked with such notable gemologists as Shane McClure, Robert E. Kane, Chuck Fryer, Emmanuel Fritsch, and many others.
In 1991, Chris went to work for the Gübelin Laboratory of Luzern, Switzerland, where he eventually became Director of the Laboratory. At that time, he was the first gemologist ever to have worked for both the GIA and Gübelin laboratories. In his nearly 12 years at the Gübelin Laboratory, Chris oversaw operations, developed key new services, and expanded the scope of Gübelin's operations globally.
He also pioneered research into several areas of gemology, including the further development and refinement of country-of-origin criteria for rubies, sapphires, emeralds, alexandrites, and other gemstones. This innovative work included the characterization of ruby and sapphire from a number of newly discovered deposits, such as rubies and sapphires from Mong Hsu, Nepal, Tajikistan, and Vietnam, as well as other localities.
As part of his research activities, he has visited a number of gem mines, including those in Myanmar, Sri Lanka, the Ural Mountains in Russia, Australia, Tanzania and Thailand. While focusing a great deal of his efforts on the determinations for country-of-origin, he also has worked extensively on the distinction between treated and non-treated gems, including research on a variety of heating techniques for corundum, HPHT treatment of diamonds, and other treatments. The origin-of-color and its identification in ruby, sapphire, diamond, coral, tanzanite and other materials, the identification of and distinction between natural and synthetic gems, and the further development of analytical techniques and their applications in gemology also have been focuses of his work.
In 2003, Chris returned to the GIA Laboratory, this time in New York. As the Director of Identification Services, he was involved with the development of colored gemstone services and research. In December of 2006, Chris joined the American Gemological Laboratories (AGL) as Vice President and Chief Gemologist to spear-head the growth and development of their colored gemstone services. In April of 2009, Chris became President and owner of AGL.
Chris has made innovations to several areas of gemological testing and its applications for the gemstone industry, including: landmark studies on the detection of HPHT treatment of type II diamonds; methods for examining the internal growth structures of gemstones; the application of infrared spectroscopy for the distinction between non-heated and heated rubies and sapphires; the 'TE' system of classifying and quantifying the heat treatment and presence of heating residues in rubies and sapphires; the development of 'off-site' gemological testing for major laboratories; and most recently, a revolutionary classification system for gem-quality rubies and sapphires.
Along with his identification and research work, Chris has published and lectured extensively on various gemological topics. In 2010 he was awarded an honorary Fellowship (FGA) by the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) for his career-long commitment to the advancement of gemology. In 2009 Chris received the Antonio C. Bonnano award for Excellence in Gemology from the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA). In 2007, Chris was awarded the Richard T. Liddicoat award by the American Gem Society (AGS). He is a past recipient of the Most Valuable Article Award in Gems & Gemology and has been a member of their technical review board since 1993. He also was a founding member of the Laboratory Manual Harmonization Committee (LMHC).
©2016 American Gemological Laboratories