Gemology training/schools?

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Ara Ann

Jan 5, 2009
This is a question for the experts.

My oldest son just turned 19 and is trying to find the right career path for himself. He is a very detail oriented guy, very smart, has a great eye for detail of any kind (evident since he was a kid)...but also leans toward being an artistic person too. He doesn''t want a typical desk job, he wants something different.

He also LOVES rocks and stones of all kinds, he actually makes really cool ''hip'' jewelry from polished rocks and copper (his friends all love his pendants, the are ''cool'' enough for the guys, but the girls love them too)... Anyway, he is very creative, very detail oriented and loves rocks and I mentioned the field of gemology to him, thinking he may do really well with it.

He''s very interested in learning more about the field, which leads to my question.

How does one go about studying gemology? Are there specific schools for this? If so, where are the best ones located? He is going to be relocating to Arizona next week, but could work toward relocating again, if this is something he chooses to pursue. What is the typical ''day of a gemologist'' like? Are you self employed, or work for a larger company?

Any info and advice would be greatly appreciated!!!

Thanks in advance!

Pandora II

Aug 3, 2006
I'm studying with the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A) for their Fellowship in Gemmology (FGA) - the FGA and the GG run by the GIA in the USA are probably the two best known and well-considered courses.

I'm studying via distance learning (I'm based in London, but work full-time) and the FGA course can be completed this way in a minimum of 2 years and a maximum of 4. Or you can study full-time in London for 5 months (expensive).

The course is very theory based - a lot of crystallography, optics etc - not artistic in the slightest, and the exam papers are seriously frightening.

The GIA HQ is in Carlesbad - Coatimundi who posts over in Coloured Stones qualified from there recently.

Both Gem-A and the GIA have good websites with all the details and course prices.

I used to work as a jewellery designer (I have a degree in Design) and stone/diamond buyer out in Italy - I really enjoyed the job but most of the time I was buying and designing crap as that was the market my company worked in which was rather depressing. Nowadays I mainly do one-off commissions where I track down the stones and advise on settings etc for people (mainly e-rings) and a bit of designing on the side.

Ultimately, I'm hoping to go back into the trade - either doing something on the research side or as a buyer (or a combo). It's horribly competitive and very family orientated as a profession which can make things hard unless you have good contacts. I doubt I will look at going back to designing as I found it too frustrating at mid-market level to be so limited and the jobs at the luxury end are few and far between!

Quite a lot of the big name jewellery stores will have a qualified gemmologist on-site - which is a potential avenue if working in retail appeals.

I'm sure some of the Appraisers/Jewellers/other experts out there will give you some ideas as to what they do.

Modified Brilliant

Mar 24, 2005
Hi Ara Ann,
It''s great that your son has a passion for gemstones!
Many of us that have been in the trade a long time and are now appraisers,
started out working in a family owned retail jewelry store. There we learned about
buying, selling, repairs, handling the different gems and merchandise, etc.
A real education from the ground up!
Many of us also were involved in trade shops or bench jewelers, diamond graders and sorters,
or a dozen other specialties in the jewelry industry.
Your son could study at GIA and then work as a diamond grader but he would not be happy with
an office/lab environment.
Maybe he could become a gemstone buyer for a large company and travel as well.
Most importantly, he needs to handle the gems and learn from the experts.
Why not offer to intern part time in a small jewelry store that loves colored gemstones and could
mentor your son? It''s retail..but it''s the best place to learn "hands on."
It sounds like wholesale or buying would suit him better than retail or as an appraiser.
But you never know....interests change.
But in the US, GIA will give him a great education.

Ara Ann

Jan 5, 2009
Thank to you both for your replies and advice!

I will pass this info along to my son...he just has no clue what he really wants to pursue career wise...hopefully something will ''click'' for him, so he can get his life going in the right direction! (he''s not a problem child, LOL, just exploring lots of things at the moment!)...

Thanks again!!!
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