by JohnQuixote » Sep 1, 2006 Congratulations to the Gemological Institute of America for the tremendous planning and effort that went into making their 4th International Gemological Symposium a success. “Navigating the Challenges Ahead” was the theme of the conference, which took place August 27-29 at the Manchester Grand Hyatt Hotel on the San Diego CA waterfront. Over 1000 attendees, prominent guests, a host of trade icons and representatives of the industry’s most notable business and scientific organizations provided three days of compelling presentations, speeches and discussions. Notable speakers from outside the industry included former secretary of state Madeline Albright and author Deepak Chopra. First Class The Manchester Grand Hyatt was an ideal site for the conference. The hotel is beautiful and easily accessible to the San Diego airport. Hyatt Hotels Photo Upon registration, Symposium guests received an attractive carry-all, detailed schedules and information. Each evening a new ‘care package’ was left in attendees’ rooms with notes about the following day as well as attractively packaged sponsor information. Meals, libations and snacks were provided to all attendees. Pleasantly, you could find cappuccino, espresso, coffee, juice and other starter-uppers served in many different places at appropriate times. Lines at the cappucino stations were constant, but the abundance of stations and built-in time between sessions provided everyone with the opportunity to get their 'addiction' of choice and a nice atmosphere for conversation. Kiosks with internet-enabled computers in the registration area allowed attendees the opportunity to check email between sessions. Enlightening With several ballrooms adjacent to a large registration area and suitable large spaces only an escalator ride away, “Navigating the Challenges Ahead” was simple navigation for attendees wishing to move easily from one session to the next. Special kudos to GIA for inclusive formatting that allowed time for questions and answers in most sessions and cleverly integrated audience interaction in several of the most hotly debated topics. Panel members were well-prepared, well-spoken and receptive, often staying after their sessions to field private inquiries. Consumer Confidence Panel Set apart from the main ballroom area, the large Poster Presentation room included small booth space for nearly 100 separate entities. Poster presenters were scheduled to be in their spaces at specific times to facilitate discussion about their displays. It was an ideal setting for one on one interaction. Lab Peer Review Area Entertaining GIA went out of their way to make each evening memorable. The 75th Diamond Anniversary Gala, the Sunset Soiree and the Italian Evening were memorable and enjoyable, featuring everything from live music and fireworks to synchronized swimming and a dazzling Italian jewelry fashion show, complete with runway models. Congratulations The last GIA Symposium was held in 1999. It will be several years before another is coordinated. The planning and effort that goes into such an undertaking is considerable. GIA, the Manchester Grand Hyatt and the many sponsors, employees, workers and support groups who worked tirelessly to bring an international audience and presenters together for three days of extremely useful content are to be thanked. Special gratitude to Co-Chairs Kathryn Kimmel and Alice Keller, as well as Ralph Destino, Donna Baker and the GIA Board for making this landmark event possible.