How to Be a Graduate Gemologist

Graduate gemologists can determine a stone's value by its color, cut, clarity and carat weight.

Graduate gemologists can determine a stone's value by its color, cut, clarity and carat weight.

A graduate gemologist is a highly skilled professional that can assume a variety of career paths, including appraiser, jewelry buyer or business owner, among others. To pursue a career in gemology, one must first complete a graduate gemologist certification course. Graduate gemologist courses cover mostly the fundamentals on diamond and gemstone grading systems and practical use of gemological equipment. Some schools, like the Gemological Institute of America, offer online programs, as well as on-campus laboratory instruction. Since gemology is highly comprehensive, new gemologists should gain experience in retail jewelry sales before pursuing other fields, such as appraisals and diamond buying.

Research graduate gemology courses to find one that fits your schedule, career goals and budget. Determine whether you can participate on campus or online. Be advised, however, that most courses, including online programs, require some laboratory credits before a diploma can be awarded. A minimum prerequisite of a high school diploma or GED is necessary to apply.

Complete all coursework, including lab work, successfully and in a timely manner. Most graduate gemology programs include courses such as gem identification, diamond and colored gemstone grading, stone treatments, lapidary equipment use, as well as current gem markets and trends. Once in the proper course stage, you may be supplied with stones, including diamonds, amethysts and garnets, on loan for practical application.

Find opportunities relevant to your level of gemological expertise. For most new graduate gemologists, despite the credential, an entry level retail sales position is the most practical way to gain industry knowledge and experience. Knowledge gained from retail experience can serve a gemologist well in other pursuits such as appraising, jewelry buying, trading and gem faceting and repair.

Tips

  • As some graduate gemology programs are more comprehensive and costly than others, it is advisable to invest in one commensurate with your realistic career ambitions. A graduate gemologist certification from the Gemological Institute of America, for example, is said to be the most prestigious gemology credential in the United States; but the tuition totals $14,000, making it the most expensive gemology program stateside as well. The International Gem Society, on the other hand, offers an entire course for significantly less. Simply put, only consider the higher investment if considering a serious career in the diamond and gem industry.
  • Gemology is a complex and continuous study. Obtaining a graduate gemologist certification is only the beginning. Your personal knowledge must be enhanced and diversified by working with other gemologists and by taking more courses throughout your career.

Warnings

  • Exercise caution with gemstones on loan. Some graduate gemologist programs may require a refundable deposit of hundreds of dollars and will charge for lost stones, including diamonds.
  • Do not expect to earn a high salary within the first few years. Despite the high value of the gemstones you may be selling or working with, most entry level gemologists earn a starting salary in the range of $20,000-$50,000 per year.
 

About the Author

Chiara Sakuwa has been a writer since 2005. Her work has appeared in publications such as the "Liberty Champion" newspaper and "The New World Encyclopedia" project. She is also the author of the novel "The Lady Leathernecks." She holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences from Campbell University and a Master of Criminal Justice from Boston University.

Photo Credits

  • Jeffrey Hamilton/Digital Vision/Getty Images