A Sidney man with deep personal ties to Saanich and professional ties to Oak Bay has received an award for his work in gemmology, the study and identification of gem stones.
Anthony de Goutière, who opened de Goutière Jewellers in May 1960, received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Canadian Gemmological Association on Aug. 12, with the association’s vice-president Duncan Parker presenting it to de Goutière.
“Your hard work, research and dedication have greatly contributed to the study of gemology, not only in Canada, but worldwide,” said Donna Hawrelko in an accompanying letter.
The 91-year-old de Goutière, who moved to Sidney two years ago after having lived in Saanich for most of his life, said he was surprised but honoured by the award in recognition of his career in gemmology.
While de Goutière opened his store as a master watchmaker, he eventually moved into jewelry and the related field of gemmology, acquiring a diploma from the Gemmological Institute of America. He later continued his studies with the American Gem Society.
“I must say I enjoyed gemmology a lot more than repairing watches,” he said. “Starting off that way led me into different fields in the jewelry business. When I got to gemmology, I decided to concentrate on that. But I can still take your watch apart and clean it.”
Gemmology evokes a level of glamour, and over the years, de Goutière served many well-off locals, including the wife of Harold Husband, who owned Victoria Machinery Depot, which built among other things the first generation of ferries used by BC Ferries. De Goutière still recalls when Husband’s wife invited him to attend a ship christening with him standing near B.C.’s political elite at the time.
De Goutière’s extensive education, keen eye, and knack for detective work also made him an in-demand expert for sellers and buyers of gem stones, insurance companies and police investigators, trying to sort through real and synthetic gem stones.
But de Goutière, who retired in 1995, never appeared to get caught up in the feeling of handling items worth substantial sums.
“The best feeling I got was that the customer would trust me,” he said. “To me, it [gemmology] was fascinating because I got to see a lot of interesting stuff.”
He has shared this passion over the years with countless others through trade journals and two books that highlight his extensive, award-winning work in gemstone photomicrography, the process of taking photographs of gemstones with the microscope, as well as seminars for other gemmologists, including his son Paul, who has taken over the Oak Bay store.