Pearl Symposium


Official list of headline speakers at Pearl Symposium 2019:

Abeer Al-Alawi – Executive Director, Bahrain Institute for Pearls & Gemstones (DANAT)

Subject: Seed Pearl Challenges

Abeer Al-Alawi is a specialised gemmologist with over 25 years’ experience in the pearl and gemstone testing industry, having held various positions in Bahrain. Al Alawi’s career began in 1992 as a hallmarking specialist at Assay followed by a move to the Gem and Pearl Testing Laboratory of Bahrain. In 2003, she was promoted to Head of the Gem and Pearl Testing Laboratory, a position she held for 10 years. In 2014, she became the Director of Precious Metal & Gemstones and held the position for 3 years before moving to DANAT.

Al-Alawi holds a BA (Hons) degree in Jewellery Design & Silversmithing from Buckinghamshire University in UK, diploma in Diamond Grading from the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) and a diploma in Gemmology: Fellow Gemmological Association (FGA), Gem-A Institute, The Gemmological Association of Great Britain, London, United Kingdom. She is also a Certified Diamond Grader (CDG) HRD Antwerp in Belgium.

Adi Al Fardan – Trader in Natural Pearls, United Arab Emirates

Subject: Trade and Natural Pearls

Adi Al Fardan, a business graduate from the American University of Sharjah, began his career working for Al Fardan Group, specializing in jewelry while pursuing a career at international banks. Coming from a family which specializes in natural pearls, Adi’s father, Hassan Al Fardan, devoted his entire life to collecting and maintaining natural pearls. Since his boyhood, Adi Al Fardan, like his father, has been captivated by the beauty of nature pearls and has been inspired by his father’s wisdom of pearls—their history, their unique physical compositions, how to design and craft them into museum-worthy pieces, their symbolism and mysteries. Adi has inherited his father’s wisdom about and artistry of pearl jewelry crafting. The Al Fardan’s are one of the few remaining pearl experts not only in the UAE but also the world. Their advice is sought from around the globe.

Ali Safar – Owner, Ali Safar for Jewelry and Pearls

Subject: Trade in Bahraini Pearls.

He started his career in the jewelry industry in the private sector since the seventies and then entered the work in this field in the public sector. Ali is one of the oldest and most passionate Bahraini gemologists with over 30 years solid experience in the field of gems, gold and Bahraini pearls, enhanced by many courses from specialized international laboratories and universities. Through his vast experience in the gems world, has established, managed and developed the Gem and Pearl Laboratory under Ministry of Industry and Commerce for more than 25 years as the Director of Precious Matals and Gemstones and managed to equip it with the last technology to become one of the best laboratories in the region. Currently the owner and founder of family business “ Ali Safar for Jewelry and Pearls “ mainly aiming to preserve and revive the traditional pearl and Bahraini gold crafts by re introducing the Jewelries in a traditional, semi traditional and modern pieces. He is also one of the researches and contributing writers of “Treasures of Bahrain Book” published 1998

Gina Latendresse– President, American Pearl Company Inc. of Nashville Tennessee

Subject: The Story of Natural Pearls from the Americas

From the time Gina Latendresse was a young child, she was immersed in the world of pearls because she is the daughter of the late John R. Latendresse, who was considered to be one of the world’s foremost experts on pearls – natural and cultured – as well as the “Father of American Pearls.” Her earliest memories include traveling to trade shows and grading pearls. Her pearl journey covers almost half a century (forty-four years) during which time she gained an unrivalled background  of  the pearl industry, both for cultured and natural , and she was inspired to join her family business as the focus of her professional life. She graduated from Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee with a “Bachelor of Arts” (BA) degree. She continued her education at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). In 1991, she was appointed President of American Pearl Company. Carrying on her father’s legacy including a love of natural pearls, along with an amazing collection acquired over his lifetime, Gina also specializes in rare natural pearls, specifically from the Americas, the Tennessee & Mississippi river and its tributaries, and highly sought-after pearls such the rare purple quahog pearls, abalone pearls, and conch pearls.

Dr. Hashim Al Sayed– Associate Professor of Biological Oceanography, University of Bahrain

Subject: Pearl Oysters in Bahrain

In 1988 he obtained a Ph.D. (Biological Oceanography) and MSc. (1981) Southampton University, U.K. B.Sc (Oceanography) Alexandria University, Egypt 1978. He was appointed as Dean of two colleges, College of Science (2011-2017) and College of Health Sciences (2016-2017). In 1996-2000, he became the Chairman at Department  of Biology. He gained important managerial and communication skills and played a central role in promoting teaching and research in the College of Science and Biology Dept. He was promoted from Assistant to Associate Professor of Biological Oceanography in 1997. In 1988-1989, he joined Bahrain Centre for Studies and Research attached to the Pearl Oyster Project. Earlier (1982-1983) he worked  at Directorate of Fisheries doing ecological research. He was awarded the Crown Prince Award for Scientific Research for a group of published papers in refereed periodical on Biology of Pearl Oyster in Bahrain in December 1994. Dr. Hashim research interests is in biology of pearl oyster, intertidal ccology and marine pollution. He published 23 papers in refereed journals in the fields of spawning, growth rate, morphometry and spat collection, in addition to, organic & inorganic pollutants in pearl oyster. He worked as an expert in reproductive biology of pearl and rock oysters (Mussel Watch Program) for  ROPME.

Justin Hunter – Owner and Operator, Fiji Pearls

Subject: Pearling and the Environment – The Blue Pledge

Founder and CEO of  J. Hunter Pearls Fiji (est.1999, Savusavu Bay, Fiji). Justin’s innovative leadership over the last two decades has placed the Fiji Pearl brand on the international stage alongside leading luxury jewellery brands.  J. Hunter is renown for their prized yet limited bounty of unique natural hues that are sold exclusively to a small select group of international buyers. Committed to partnering with the traditional communities where his farms are located, Justin’s pioneering vision for the industry, based on community owned and operated pearl farms, is encapsulated in The Fiji Pearl Development Plan he devised after experiencing the devastating effects of Cat. 5, tropical cyclone Winston that hit Fiji in 2016. Endorsed by CIBJO, the FPDP was presented at UN Headquarters in New York on World Oceans Day, June 2017 by the Fiji Government as one of its commitments to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 14, Life Below Water. Following on the heels of this achievement Justin instigated The Blue Pledge, a private sector driven initiative designed to raise more awareness around the world’s only true sustainable gem. Partnering with top pearl producers and brands Paspaley and Jewelmer, the 7-point pledge seeks to support the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, reinforcing their role in developing a blue economy.

Kenneth Scarratt– Managing Partner, ICA|GemLab Bangkok

Subject:The origins and modern trade usage of the term Keshi (“ケシ” – poppy seed) when used in connection with pearls or cultured pearls


He is currently the Managing Partner for ICA|GemLab located in Bangkok, Thailand. He was formally CEO of the Bahrain Institute for Pearls & Gemstones (DANAT), Managing Director for SE Asia for the Gemological Institute of America, Laboratory Director for the AGTA (American Gem Trade Association) Gemological Testing Center in New York City, Director of AIGS (Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences) in Bangkok, and Chief Executive and Laboratory Director GAGTL (Gemmological Association & Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain) in London. Has published papers extensively in such journals as The Journal of Gemmology (UK), Gems and Gemology (USA) and many others. Has co-authored the books, The Crown Jewels, and, The Pearl & the Dragon. He has delivered lectures to gemologists and traders in many countries including: Australia, Bahrain, Brazil, Canada, China, Colombia, Dubai, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong, India, Israel, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Sri Lanka, and the USA (several States). In addition to his work with diamond, ruby and sapphire, he has studied and visited pearl producing areas in several countries including: Australia, Bahrain, China, Indonesia, Japan, Scotland, Thailand, UAE, and Vietnam and is a leading authority on natural pearls, both salt and freshwater.

HE Dr. Mohammed Bin Daina– Chief Executive, Supreme Council for Environment, Kingdom of Bahrain

Subject:Bahrain and its Aquatic Environment

Dr. Mohamed Mubarak Bin Daina is currently serving as the Chief Executive of the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE). Prior to his appointment, he was the Deputy Chief Executive of the SCE. At this post, he is mandated to cover a number of national environmental issues including air quality, climate change, environmental impact assessment, pollution control, waste management land resources, and marine and coastal conservation. Dr. Bin Daina has led delegations relevant to the Montreal Protocol, The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and various regional and international environmental conferences and

summits. A double-honoree by His Majesty King Hamad Bin Isa Bin Salman Al Khalifa, Dr. Bin Daina received his PhD in Chemical Engineering from Imperial College London and earned his Postgraduate Certificate in Academic Practice from York St. John University. He has also been awarded a Fulbright Scholarship by Texas A&M. His extensive academic backgroundincludes a Bachelor’s of Science in Petroleum Engineering from the United Arab EmiratesUniversity, and a Master’s of Science in Chemical Engineering from the University of Wales,Swansea. With a background in petroleum engineering from Bahrain National Oil Company, Dr. Bin Daina started his professional career as a Graduate Assistant in the faculty of Chemical Engineering at the University of Bahrain, eventually becoming an Assistant Professor and later Director of Accreditation of Quality Assurance. Dr. Bin Daina has recently been appointed board member of the Education & Training Quality Authority. He is also a member of the following national committees: Supreme Council for Civil Defense, National Renewable Energy Committee, National Committee for Data and Information, Bahrain Building Code Committee, Emergency and Hazardous Committee. He is also a member at the executive-committee of UNEP for special project.

Mr. Mohamed Al Mahmood – Owner, Al Mahmood Pearls

Subject: Trade and Natural Pearls

Mr. Mohamed Al Mahmood, a young businessman and visionary who is the main pillar behind the pearl empire of Al Mahmood Pearls which was established by his father Mr. Abdulrazaq Al Mahmood. Following the footsteps of his father, Mohamed started working with these precious gems at the age of seven. Mohamed is the 7th generation of his family entering the pearl business and started running the company with the colossal knowledge that he had in his field. Being a graduate from GIA (Gemological Institute of America) and gaining the years of pearl experience from his father and the trade, he developed great knowledge about the vastness of pearl and other gemstones and is in a continuous process of refining and revamping his skills and ideas.
His main vision is to maintain the position of the kingdom of Bahrain as the center of the natural pearls internationally the provide the best practices to his clients. With this, he never compromises with the quantity of his products. He has an endless strive for the best, introducing the public with the vast world of pearls, and assisting them visualize that pearls are not just a piece of jewelry but also a form of art.
He strives for excellence and work towards developing the pearl trade in an international level through his participation in different committees and world gatherings. He regards this motto and the reason for his success.

Dr. Mohamed Al Rumaidh – Researcher & Academic in Marine Biology & Ocean Science

Subject: Investigations on the Pearl Oyster Resources of Bahraini Waters

Dr. Mohamed AlRumaidh, received a MSc Degree in Shellfish Biology, Fisheries & Culture, in 1996, and PhD Degree in Marine Biology, in 2002, both from the University of Wales, Bangor, UK.  He joined the Directorate of Fisheries in 1983 as a marine biologist, and was involved in marine environmental studies, such as oil pollution, dredging and coastal reclamation operations, as well as mangrove studies.  In 1986, he was appointed Project Manager to run the Pearl Oyster Resources Survey in Bahraini waters, which was conducted by the ex-Bahrain Centre (BCSR) for Studies and Research from 1986 to 1990.  He then continued with BCSR as a Fishery Researcher where he was involved in conducting research works on living marine resources, and published several papers on shellfish marine species, i.e. pearl oysters; shrimps; and crabs, as well as, an annotated bibliography on Fisheries Publications of Bahrain, from 1960s through to the first half of 2005.  From 2011 to 2016, he was an Assistant Professor of Marine Biology and Oceanography, in the Dept. of Biology, University of Bahrain.

Nicholas Sturman– Identification Manager, GIA Bangkok

Subject: Pearl Laboratory Notes

Nicholas Sturman has over 25 years of detailed experience in the examination of pearls. He obtained his FGA and DGA qualifications in the UK prior to joining the world renowned Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain and continued with 16 years studying pearls in the Kingdom of Bahrain where he served as the gemological advisor to the Bahrain Government’s Gem and Pearl Testing Laboratory. Nick specializes in the identification of pearls using the advanced instrumentation available in GIA’s Bangkok laboratory where he has worked for the last 11 years. He also oversees GIA’s pearl departments in New York, Carlsbad, and Hong Kong. As well as writing contributions to various gemological publications he has also given presentations in Thailand, USA, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, The United Kingdom, France, Switzerland and various countries within the Middle East. Nick periodically assists with teaching and educational seminars when required, and has co-authored two books “Kunooz Al-Bahrain” and “Splendour and Science of Pearls”. Nick was the joint winner of the 2010 Dr. Edward J. Gubelin Most Valuable Article Award, as voted by Gems & Gemology readers, and is currently a member of Gems and Gemology’s editorial review board.

Noura Al Sayeh– Head of Architectural Affairs, Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities

Subject: The History of the Pearling Trail


Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop is an architect and curator working at the Bahrain Authority for Culture and Antiquities (BACA) as Head of Architectural Affairs, where she is responsible for overseeing the planning and implementation of cultural institutions, museums and exhibitions. She holds a Master’s Degree in Architecture from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne. Noura was the co-curator of ‘Reclaim’, Bahrain’s first participation at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 2010 that was awarded a Golden Lion, and the Deputy Commissioner General of Bahrain’s Pavilion at the Expo Milan 2015, awarded a Silver Medal for Best Architecture and Landscape. Since 2015, she heads the ‘Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy’, which received the Aga Khan Award for Architecture for the 2019 cycle as part of the Muharraq Revitalization project.



In the heart of Muharraq, Bahrain’s former capital, the UNESCO World heritage site “Pearling, Testimony of an Island Economy” relates the unique legacy of Bahrain’s pearling era, through the architecture and the urban heritage of the old city of Muharraq as well as three pearl producing oyster beds in the northern territorial waters of Bahrain. Taken together, the fifteen individual sites reflect the final expression and last remaining – and thus outstanding – example of a cultural tradition that dominated the Arabian Gulf from prehistory to the early 20th century. The project also includes 17 public squares and 4 multistory parking structures that respond to the contemporary needs of the city.

Rui Galopim de Carvalho– Founder, Portugal Gemas Academy

Subject: A review of Antique and Museum Pearls

Rui Galopim de Carvalho FGA DGA, is a passionate gemmologist with an active social media presence focusing on the spread of accurate knowledge and appreciation of gemstones. He is currently Vice-President of the Coral Commission and Vice-President of Sector A for CIBJO (The World Jewellery Confederation). An accomplished author, Rui has published research on the history and use of gem materials with a focus on Portuguese Jewellery studies across the National Museums and treasures of the Church. He is a speaker at a number of international gemological events and an experienced education consultant. Rui is a member of the Communications Committee of ICA (International Coloured Gemstone Association), associate editor of Gem-A’s peer reviewed Journal, The Journal of Gemmology, and Advisory Counsel of the Portuguese Jewellery Association, which includes the selection committee for licensed Jewellery Appraisers in Portugal.

Dr. Stefanos Karampelas– Director of Research, Bahrain Institute for Pearls & Gemstones (DANAT)

Subject: Pearl Species Determination: Possibilities and Limitations

Dr. Stefanos Karampelas is the Research Director for the Bahrain Institute for Pearls and Gemstones (DANAT). He holds an Advanced Gemmology Diploma from the University of Nantes (France), a PhD in Materials Physics from the same university, a MSc in Geosciences from the University of Rennes (France) and a BSc in Geology from Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece. He has experience as a Research Scientist for a period of 7 years at Gübelin Gem Lab with a further year at Gem Research Swisslab, both in Switzerland. He is also a lecturer (since 2012) for the Advanced Gemmology Diploma at the University of Nantes, France, on pearls, laboratory methods applied to gems as well as origin determination of coloured gems. He has published over 40 research papers on different gems in various scientific journals, contributed to books delivered various lectures and visited several gem mines and pearl farms around the globe. He is a delegate for the International Gemmological Conference (since 2011), member of the Commission of Gem Materials of International Mineralogical Association (since 2007) as well as member of the Editorial Board of Gems and Gemology and an Associate Editor of The Journal of Gemmology.”

Terms & Conditions