Victoria and Justin are professionally trained gemcutters, teachers, gemologists, and more. They've been working together since they met and it's been magic ever since.
Justin started cutting gemstones in 2013 when first joined the San Francisco Gem and Mineral Society. Justin quickly became obsessed with all things gemstones and started going to the lapidary club as many times in the week as he could, first learning to cut cabochons and later to facet gemstones. By the time he had been a club member for three years, he owned his own faceting machine and was cutting stones at home in his free time. He realized that he was getting knowledgable about cutting and polishing but didn't know anything about the gems he was faceting. More education was in order and after a bit of research, he realized that the best course of action was to go to gemology school in Bangkok, which he knew from a previous vacation was the biggest trade hub for gemstones in the world.
By the time Justin finished his gemology courses at GIA Bangkok, he had met Vincent Pardieu who was working at the GIA lab at the time. Vincent offered Justin the opportunity to join him on a field expedition the following Spring. Vincent introduced Justin to his research team which included Victoria, After a month of working at the Tucson Gem Show, Justin got his essential possessions from America including his faceting machine and returned to Bangkok with hopes of finding full time work in Bangkok's gemstone trade. After a successful trip to Cambodia and Chanthaburi, Justin had solidified his working relationship with Vincent.
It was at this time that Justin started to think about teaching a faceting class in Bangkok as well as building relationships with local Thai cutting factories so that he might be able to offer a cutting service to the world, partnering with Thai master cutters. Through the help of Vincent, Justin was able to get a job teaching gemology at AIGS Bangkok. He attended a few classes as well as teaching a few and his life as a teacher had officially begun.
Justin was then approached by a group of international gem dealers who wanted to start a new school, whose curriculum was centered around gemstone gutting and trading. The Institute of Gem Trading opened its doors in 2017 and its flagship course Cutting and Recutting for Gem Business was an instant success. Justin was now a full time teacher while also slowly starting to run his gemcutting service with the help of the Thai factories. This is also the period when Justin started his researching on the history of gemcutting which ultimately led to many peer-reviewed articles and several books.
As the world changed in 2019, Justin moved his cutting class online and started to focus on distance learning ideas like Zoom webinars, educational Youtube videos, and eventually the development of the Faceting Apprentice distance courses.
Victoria began her gemcutting career before most people even start thinking about their adult life. She entered a Geneva-based lapidary apprenticeship at the age of 14 where she learned the art of Swiss gemcutting. She spent five years cutting gemstones for European watch and jewelry companies with some of the highest quality standards in the world. Eventually, she decided to add a gemology background to her cutting practice, so she moved to Montreal for six months to study gemology in French and attain an FGA diploma.
With a gemology degree and five years of professional gemcutting experience behind her, she was ready to move on to new areas of the gem trade. A chance meeting with Bangkok-based field gemologist Vincent Pardieu made this next step possible. Victoria was hired to be part of Vincent's origin determination research team at GIA Bangkok. For the next three years, she oversaw the fabrication of gemstone samples from the rough gems that Vincent would bring back from his field expeditions. Victoria help the GIA to develop their system for preparing these gem samples for chemical and spectroscopic analysis using industrial polishing machines, co-authoring gemology articles along the way.
In 2017, Victoria left GIA Bangkok to relocate to Bahrain, where she helped create and build out the fabrication department for the origin determination team at the new DANAT gem laboratory. Working once again with Vincent Pardieu, Victoria continued her work with sample alignment, photomicrography, and industrial polishing machines. In addition, she also started teaching an Introduction to Faceting course in Bahrain for DANAT. She worked with the DANAT team for two years before she decided that she wanted to go independent.
Since that time, Victoria and Justin decided to embark on a new project which would be a school to create new gemcutters in the world.