Become a Professional Gemologist
Did you ever find a shiny rock while playing in the dirt? Do you appreciate the brilliant colors of a piece of jewelry? Have you ever wondered about the diamond trade? If so, you should consider a career as a gemologist.
Gemology is the science of gemstones. In this field, gemologists identify, appraise, inspect, certify, and value gemstones. Gemstones are precious stones or jewels that are found all over the world and are highly valued for their vibrant colors and stunning visual appeal.
There are nearly 2,000 different minerals in nature, but only around 90 can be considered gemstones, and only about 20 are commonly used as jewelry.
Gemstones include stones such as diamonds, emeralds, rubies, sapphires, spinels, blue topazes, ambers, citrines, amethysts, aquamarines, opals, peridots, moonstones, pyrites, obsidians, and tigers-eyes. No two gems are identical.
Gems are found all over the world. Amber may be found in Poland, emeralds in Mozambique, moonstones in Madagascar, rubies in Tanzania, topaz in the United States, turquoise in China, or sapphires in Australia. Depending on where the gem is found will determine its quality and impurities – a ruby from one location might be of higher quality than a ruby found someplace else. Different impurities are often linked to where the gemstone was unearthed.
A gemologist must identify a gem by looking at the gem’s refractive index, specific gravity, and spectroscopy to be sure the gem is legit. Next they evaluate the stones based on color, value, light, clarity, inclusions, rarity, carat weight, cut, and beauty. This is similar to the 4 Cs – cut, clarity, color, and carats – used commercially for people buying diamonds. There is no international standard to evaluate and value a gemstone. A gem’s price is typically set by its demand and can fluctuate greatly.
Gems are graded by a number of criteria developed by different organizations such as the International Gemological Institute, the Gemological Institute of America, the American Gemological Society, or the American Gem Trade Association, among many others. Usually gemologists study a gemstone by eyeballing it. They may hold the gem with tweezers and study it using a magnifying loupe. Based on the gem’s beauty, rarity, demand, durability, tradition, and portability it is then valued. The gem may also be certified to show its value to buyers and sellers.
Sometimes a gem can be used as it is found in nature, but usually it must be cut and polished using a variety of tools. Sometimes a gemologist uses certain treatments such as heat, radiation, waxing or oiling, or fracture filling to improve a gemstones color or clarity.
Most gemologists study mineralogy or gemology at school. Other gemologists attend gemology school. A gemology education can be expensive, but it is ultimately a lucrative career. Any serious gemologist becomes certified through an organization such as the American Gem Society (AGS). The AGS offers certifications for certified gemologists, registered jeweler, and certified gemologist appraiser. Some become accredited gemologists through the Accredited Gemologists Association. These certifications and a vast knowledge of gems can land a gemologist a job as a diamond grader, jewelry maker, gem dealer or importer, or a gem appraiser.
A gemologist’s salary depends on where they work – a jewelry store, self-employed, or gemology laboratory.
They can make 20,000 to $80,000 per year for working with stunning stones. It’s a rewarding career that has international appeal.
Gemstones are remarkable natural creations that can be fine tuned by man to become breathtaking decorations. If you want to make your living examining, grading, and working with emeralds, diamonds, or other beautiful gemstones then please consider a career as a gemologist.
Quick Facts About Working in Gemology
Job Title: Gemologist
Office: Gemology Laboratories
Description: Appraise, inspect, and value gemstones
Certifications/Education: Gemologist certification recommended
Necessary Skills: Able to appraise gems, Knowledge of all gems
Potential Employers: Jewelry shops, Self-employed, Gemology Laboratories
Pay: $20,000 to $80,000 per year
American Gem Trade Association
American Gem Society
International School of Gemology
Gems and Gemology Magazine
International Gemological Institute
Accredited Gemologist Association
International Gem Society
Gemological Institute of America