contact us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right.

912 Live Oak Park Rd South
Fallbrook, CA, 92028
United States

+1 (760) 728-9121

Pala International has consistently earned its reputation as the direct source for the finest colored stones.

AGTA Staff Update

AGTA American Gem Trade Association title image

Dr. Lore Kiefert, Richard W. Hughes and John I. Koivula Join American Gem Trade Association Gemological Testing Center

New York, January 6—2004 saw a tremendous growth in demand for the services of the AGTA Gemological Testing Center. This new demand required a greater capacity to examine and report on the large volume of stones being submitted and in an effort to realize this capability the GTC have searched the world for the best that gemology can offer. This search for new team members has not stopped

The AGTA Gemological Testing Center is now pleased to announce a considerable expansion to its highly qualified team of gemologists and support staff. The GTC and its Laboratory Director, Ken Scarratt, are very pleased to welcome three internationally renowned gemologists to the gemological team as well as an important addition to the support team. The entire new gemological team will be present at the AGTA GemFair in Tucson this February 2nd–7th, expanding the capacity of the GTC Mobile Laboratory located in the Tucson Convention Center and considerably reducing turnaround times. Happily these reduced turnaround times will also impact the normal work of the GTC throughout 2005 and beyond.

The new team members are:

Dr. Lore Kiefert

Lore Kiefert photo image

Lore Kiefert (born in Heidelberg, Germany) began studying Mineralogy in 1981. In 1987, she obtained her Master’s degree with a thesis on the distinguishing characteristics of sapphires (natural vs. synthetic as well as different origins). After this, she changed direction and went to Australia to gain her Ph.D. on the composition of desert dust.

In April 1994 she joined the SSEF Swiss Gemmological Institute beginning her distinguished gemological career. Lore joined the SSEF, when the organization was located in Zürich, as Assistant Director. The SSEF moved to Basel in the same year.

Lore was awarded her Ph.D. in 1996 and her FGA (Diploma in Gemmology) early in 1998, and was appointed Director of the SSEF Coloured Stones Department in 2000.

Apart from a large number of scientific and gemmological papers, Lore has contributed to the Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy and the Handbook of Raman Spectroscopy in Art and Archaeology. She has lectured at numerous scientific and gemmological conferences in Australia, South Africa, the United States, England, Belgium, Czech Republic, Austria, Holland, Germany, and various places in Switzerland.

Lore brings great expertise both in colored stone identification and origin determination to the GTC.

Richard W. Hughes

Richard Hughes photo image

Richard W. Hughes is one of the world’s foremost authorities on ruby and sapphire. A Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, his first book was the highly regarded Corundum.

While a native of the United States, Richard has spent close to half his life in Asia, where his interest in gemstones was first kindled. Richard graduated from Bangkok’s Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in 1979; shortly thereafter he was invited to join their staff. He was later appointed executive vice-president, a position he held for close to a decade. Under his directorship, the institute blossomed into one of the world’s leading facilities in gemological education.

Richard has traveled to scores of countries in search of gemstones and authored dozens of articles on all aspects of the gem and jewelry trades. His articles have appeared throughout Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia. His gemological laboratory experience encompasses all gem materials and was gained both in Thailand and the USA. From 1999 on, he has been webmaster at Pala International.

Richard’s excellent self-published book Ruby & Sapphire (published in 1997) has become a standard on the subject.

Richard’s expertise in corundum and gemstone identification overall will be an enormous asset for the GTC.

John I. Koivula

John Koivula photo image

John I. Koivula has spent forty-four years studying and photographing the microworld of gemstones. At the start of his professional career, John worked in the mining industry as a field geologist for Cominco American. He then worked for the Gemological Institute of America finishing his 29-year career as Chief Research Gemologist.

He has published more than 800 articles and notes on gemstone inclusions and related topics, and is a contributor to several books including the American Geological Institute’s Glossary of Geology, Robert Webster’s Gems, and the GIA’s Diamond Dictionary. John is co-author of the Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones, and author of The MicroWorld of Diamonds. With Dr. E. Gübelin, he is completing Photoatlas of Inclusions in Gemstones: Volume 2, to be published in 2005.

John holds university degrees in geology and chemistry, and is also a G.G ., C.G., and an F.G.A. He was awarded a fellowship in the Royal Microscopical Society, and serves on the executive board of the International Gemmological Conference group (IGC).

He is an honorary life member of the Finnish Gemmological Society and the Gemmological Association of Great Britain, and was named as one of the 64 most influential people of the 20th century in the jewelry industry by Jewelers’ Circular-Keystone Magazine. His awards include the Robert M. Shipley and Richard T. Liddicoat awards from the American Gem Society, the Scholarship Foundation Award from the American Federation of Mineralogical Societies, and the Antonio C. Bonanno Award for excellence in gemology by the international Accredited Gemologists Association.

John is one of the world’s foremost practical gemologists and he brings an enormous amount of gemological expertise to the GTC.

Hpone-Phyo K. Nyunt

Hpone-Phyo Nyunt photo image

Hpone-Phyo K. Nyunt, joined the GTC Control Room team at the end of December 2004. He is a native of Myanmar (Burma) where his family have a history in gemstones and jewelry. Hpone came to the USA in 2001 and has studied computer and electrical engineering at Northern Illinois and Columbia Universities. He is an experienced customer support assistant who is also proficient in the domestic and international shipping. Hpone also has extensive experience with data entry and inventory control. Hpone’s experience will add to that of an already well-tuned Control Room.


For more information regarding the AGTA Gemological Testing Center, please contact us at 800-972-1162 or

For further information, please contact:

Douglas K. Hucker, Executive Director
3030 LBJ Freeway, Suite 840, Dallas, TX 75234
Telephone: 800-972-1162 / 214-742-4367
Fax: 214-742-7334
E-mail: Website:


AGTA Gemological Testing Center
18 East 48th Street, Suite 502
New York, NY 10017
Telephone: 212-752-1717
Fax: 212-750-0930
E-mail: Website: