VCC community honoured by jewellery and gemmology industries

Posted on January 14, 2019

It’s been an exciting few months for jewellery and gemmology at Vancouver Community College (VCC). Join us in congratulating VCC instructor Donna Hawrelko for being internationally recognized by the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA) for her work in gemmological education and training. In December, VCC student Ruby Rue also won a coveted jewellery scholarship thanks to an inspiring, original design.

Read more in the stories below, originally published in Jewellery Business magazine. 


VCC’s Donna Hawrelko honoured for gemmological excellence

A Canadian gemmology expert is being recognized for her work by the Accredited Gemologists Association (AGA).

Donna Hawrelko, president of the Canadian Gemmological Association (CGA), is one of four recipients of AGA’s 2019 Antonio C. Bonanno Award.

The accolade recognizes Hawrelko’s accomplishments in supporting gemmological education and training, as well as her commitment to her students and to furthering gemmological knowledge in Canada and worldwide.

“This award means so much to me,” said Hawrelko. “Being recognized by my peers is such an honour and I am so grateful for the acknowledgement.”

The recognition comes only a few months after Hawrelko—a gemmology professor at Vancouver Community College (VCC)—received an Award for Excellence in Teaching at CGA’s 60th anniversary conference.

“The last few years have been momentous for gemmology in Canada,” Hawrelko added. “Last year, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of CGA, and now we are kicking off 2019 with this great honour.”

Hawrelko will be recognized alongside this year’s other Bonanno Award winners (Alberto Scarani and Mikko Åström of Magilabs, along with researcher Dr. Karl Schmetzer) at the AGA Annual Dinner Gala in Tucson on February 6.




Vancouver student wins 2018 Vaccaro Family Scholarship

When second-year Vancouver Community College (VCC) student Ruby Rue was crafting her submission for this year’s Giovanni Vaccaro Family Scholarship, more than one kind of ‘Starry Night’ was on her mind.

The theme for the 2018 competition, ‘Starry Night’ carries a slew of different meanings for different individuals, and Rue drew on this in her design. Titled ‘Eventide Glow,’ her sterling silver piece reflects humans’ longstanding fascination with the stars and incorporates different techniques to imply versatility.

This outside-the-box thinking seemed to resonate with the judges, as Rue took home the scholarship for 2018. In recognition, she will receive a $3000 prize, while VCC’s jewellery art and design program will receive $1000.

“I’m very honoured and excited to receive this award,” Rue tells Jewellery Business. “It feels like a real encouragement to continue making jewellery and will be a great help paying for tools to help me realize my future designs.”

She counts her experience in other art forms (such as welding and film), as well as the influence of her parents, among her inspirations as an artist. After completing her final year at VCC, Rue aims to launch her own jewellery line and studio, distributing her pieces both online and in local stores.

When asked what advice she would offer to students who are new to the industry, Rue’s message was simple: keep at it.

“I would say just do not give up. There are a tonne of things to learn and it may feel overwhelming at the start, but it gets easier,” she explains. “Also, do not be afraid to get help from someone else—you cannot be an expert at everything.”


Learn more about the exciting world of gemmology and jewellery design at an upcoming free information session at VCC.