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10 May 2001

Ridge plays host to international gemstone dealers

Left to right: Terry Coldham, Sapphe X P/L; Mark Tremonti, Tremac P/L; Patsy and Tom Winch and Israel Eliezri, President International Coloured Gemstone Association

Last week Sydney hosted the tenth Biennial International Coloured Gemstone Association Congress.

Formed in 1984, the Associationís membership represents seventy-five percent of the purchasing power of the international market for coloured stones.

More than twenty percent of the membership attended the Sydney Congress which marked its opening by a dinner at Star City Casino.

As a direct flow-on from the Congress, Lightning Ridge played host to 45 ICA members visiting as part of two organised tours.

The concept of the visit and its realisation was conceived by Australian Gemstone dealer, Mark Tremonti who shares his passion for gemstones with the ICAís 500 strong membership.

This "family" of international dealers have managed to overcome their diversity of cultures and religions and have no business barriers to inhibit their development.

The Association provides the only tool available to unite the International Coloured Stone Industry.

Members pride themselves on the bonafide they have established through product excellence sound pricing, personality and trust, earnt through many years trading.

The ICA seeks to promote people within the industry who are driven by a passion to elevate the association to even greater heights and returns.

They couple this goal with the need for a common language that specifically describes colour, shape etc.

What had taken two years to unfold 100 years ago is now achievable within a week via the internet.

The grass roots tours organised for ICA members, comprising dealers, wholesalers and miners has given them at first hand a seeing and learning experience.

The ICA visit was a "whoís who" in the gem industry world.

In true Aussie tradition they were treated to a "barbie" following their organised local tours.

One would be forgiven for not fully realising just how much our own black opal industry was dependant upon the buying power of this group.

It was not until the night unfolded that I was made aware that the backbone of fine jewellery in America was with us, a long-term Director of Israel Diamonds, the buyer for the largest stone manufacturer in the world, a Brazilian family with a 200 year history in the retail industry; the largest supplier of emeralds and several family-owned businesses with 100 years dealership to their credit.

Saturday nightís storm dashed their chances of taking in a Lightning Ridge sunset from Yen and Malcolm Hollandís paradise on top of the Four Mile, but it did little to dampen the spirit of the night and friendships kindled. A truly magic night with an abundance of food, wine and hospitality.

We Texans know all about hospitality but you Aussies know how to spell it," said it all, and "opening your house and welcoming us in this way, is what itís all about, itís so wonderful."

A feast of entertainment was also showcased with Bill and Jo Hackett, Peter Driscoll, George Charles and the amazing voice of Austrian born Anya, enthralled everyone with her rendition of "The Power of Love".

By midday Sunday members of the Seven Day South Sea Pearls Consortium Tour would be climbing Ayers Rock after which they would take in two days observing the pearling industry at Broome.

From Broome it is on to Darwin, back to Queensland emerald and sapphire fields and farewell from Sydney.

The goodwill created by this visit is inestimable, but in real terms the direct and indirect benefit that the Black Opal Capital derives will be substantial.

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