ICA CEO Message

Posted By: Douglas Hucker News,

ICA in Tucson 2024

Douglas Hucker

Stepping out of the airport in Tucson, Arizona, you’re greeted by the warm, dry air and the sight of dozens of beautiful saguaro cacti. You’re in a unique setting – in the high desert surrounded by towering mountains. And the hustle and bustle begins, as the preparations for the Tucson Gem Shows gets underway!

The first item on the agenda for the ICA Board was our annual Tucson Board

 meeting; both in-person and via Zoom! The Board met to review the prior year’s progress and budget; to begin working on plans for 2024, including growing membership, increasing our trade show presence, and our next #GemsKeepGiving project!

And the ICA Board is happy to let our members know that we are growing! Our membership grew almost 10% in the past year; our social media and networking grew almost 20%; and our staff worked hard to fine-tune our budget for 2024.

Our ICA Ambassador Program expanded as well, with a newly updated list of Ambassadors to serve as on-the-ground contacts and mentors in their respective countries. You can access a list of ICA Ambassadors here.

We are proud to say that ICA represents over 47 countries in the world!

The next important event for ICA was the return of the Gemological Industry & Laboratory Conference (GILC). The GILC provides a space for industry peers to discuss worldwide gemstone issues like ethical practices, nomenclature, consumer confidence, terminology and accurate use of laboratories for certification and grading purposes. The event is held before the Tucson Gem Shows and unites professionals across the industry chain supply, from miners, to lapidaries, gemologists, wholesalers and designers.

ICA President Damien Cody
welcoming GILC attendees

After a four-year hiatus, the GILC was back! Sponsored by Colombian Emerald (ACODES) and RareSource, the topic for this event was “Low Temperature Heat Treatment in Corundum.” Featured speakers included Nathan Renfro, Senior Manager of Colored Stone Identification, GIA; Dr. Michael Krzemnicki, Director, SSEF Basel; and Bonnie Kwok, Head of Laboratory, Gubelin Laboratory, Switzerland.

GILC Attendees

GILC Chairs Edward Boehm and Evan Caplan. Presenters Michael Krzemnicki, Nathan Renfro and Bonnie Kwok.

There were almost 100 attendees for this event. Our special thanks to RareSource and ACODES for helping make the GILC meeting possible!

Tuesday brought the opening of most of the Gem Shows. The ICA proudly had over 200 members exhibiting across Tucson.  Members were located in the #ICAPavilion at the GJX Show, the Pueblo Show, the AGTA GemFair, JOGS and the TGMS Show. Reports indicate that traffic was steady, buyers were engaged and sales were better than anticipated.  ICA staff was on-hand providing onsite social media support, preparing reels, and sharing stories;

Here are a few of our favorite shots from the week.

During the week, there are certainly must-do’s while in Tucson! Did you know that Tucson is one of only TWO Unesco Cities of Gastronomy in the United States? The plethora of top-notch restaurants and variety of cuisines, makes dining out in Tucson a must!  There’s also the mission – a must-stop for history buffs.  A National Historic Landmark, San Xavier Mission was founded as a Catholic mission by Father Eusebio Kino in 1692. Construction of the current church began in 1783 and was completed in 1797. 

The oldest intact European structure in Arizona, the church's interior is filled with marvelous original statuary and mural paintings. It is a place where visitors can truly step back in time and enter an authentic 18th Century space.

One of the best parts of being in Tucson is reconnecting with friends and colleagues from around the world – oftentimes, it’s the one time of year you see each other! The social events in Tucson are always talked about for days – here’s a few of our favorites!

ICA Member Reception – Hosted by the ICA Gemlab

CEO Doug Hucker welcomes ICA members

The ICA Gemlab hosted the ICA Member Reception on Wednesday – with an at-capacity crowd of over 300! Members gathered at the Marriott University Park for an evening of networking and catching up with old friends – with a side of dancing thrown in! The ICA Member Reception is one of the highlights of our Tucson experience every year!

Doug Hucker welcomes Nadia Hatta to the stage
Kennedy Ho, Nadia Hatta, Chang Hatta

ICA GemWomen Breakast – Sponsored by AIGS Thailand

For the second year in a row, the women of ICA gathered for a breakfast meeting. This year’s group more than doubled from our first year! Special thanks to AIGS Thailand for sponsoring this important event – it was all about connection and how we can work together to improve our businesses, our industry and ICA!

Ruth Benjamin -Thomas welcomes ICA Members