Rare chance to see the crown jewels
By EMMA CORNFORD
THE crown jewels in England lie under tight security in the Tower of London.
Visitors are shepherded past on a moving walkway and are not allowed to stop and look.
But South Grafton gemologist Renee Payne will have the once in a lifetime opportunity to see the jewels close up in September as part of a threeweek European Diamond Tour with the Gemologist Institute of America.
"All of the tour will be just wonderful," Mrs Payne said.
"The fact we're going to have a private viewing of the crown jewels is mind-boggling."
The tour will also take Mrs Payne to the Royal Asscher Diamond Company, which cut the Cullinan Diamond series ? the biggest of which was cut for Edward VII and sits in the top of the crown sceptre.
She will also head to: the Antwerp diamond cutting fac- tory; a Bucceletti display in London, and; a coloured gemstone cutting company and gem fair in Idar-Oberstein, Germany.
"Nobody ever gets to go to these places because security is so tight, but the GIA has enormous pull. It's really an amazing opportunity."
Mrs Payne has been a gemologist for around 10 years and a registered jewellery valuer for eight. She is also a fellow with the Gemmological Association of Australia and is one of just 500 registered valuers in Australia and the only one between Port Macquarie and Murwillumbah.
"I've always been into jewellery and I thought 'if you're going to sell something you should know about it'," she said.
"All my life I wanted to (be a registered valuer) but circumstances prevented it. But in this business things change so fast you have to be on top to know what could be coming across your desk."