If you’ve ever searched for handmade fine jewelry, you have likely heard the title gemologist attached to some designers’ and jewelers’ names. But what does that actually mean? How does being a gemologist impact the jewelry itself? And what is the difference between a gemologist and GIA Graduate Gemologist® anyway? Let’s get those questions answered.
What is Gemology?
Gemology is the science of precious stones. That may sound simple enough, but in practice it is not as basic as the definition implies. At the heart of gemology is gemstone identification. Gemologists have been trained to identify gemstones and distinguish those that – to the untrained eye – appear identical to another. Gemologists are educated in crystallography, the structure and properties of crystals, to make an accurate identification of precious stones. Through a microscope, gemologists can see how the crystals in the gem were formed on an atomic level to identify the gem. Mineralogical techniques like scratch, acid, and heat tests are often used to identify uncut gems, but non-destructive tests, such as specific gravity and refractive index, are used to make an accurate identification of gemstones that have already been cut by a lapidary.
What is GIA?
The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a public benefit, nonprofit institute that was established in 1931. According to its website, GIA is “the leading source of knowledge, standards, and education in gems and jewelry.” It is the creator of the “4 C’s” and the International Diamond Grading System™, which are the jewelry industry standards for evaluating diamond quality. The institute is also the world leader in gemological research and has been making contributions to our overall understanding of gems since the 1930s. One of the most impactful things GIA does is educate people around the world, arming them with the knowledge, skills, and credentials to be successful in the jewelry industry.
What is a Graduate Gemologist®?
GIA provides a variety of programs for people looking to launch a career in the jewelry industry, and Graduate Gemologist® is one of the most prestigious and comprehensive in the industry. This program prepares individuals for careers in jewelry appraisals, diamond and colored stone buying, gemstone research, retail, wholesale, and more. This program provides individuals with the technical expertise and practical skills they need to identify and evaluate gemstones and be successful in the jewelry industry overall. Someone who has earned the Graduate Gemologist® credential has been trained in diamond grading, colored stone grading, gem identification, equipment/instrumentation, gem treatments, lab grown and imitation gems, and markets and supply chains of the jewelry industry.
How does the GIA Graduate Gemologist® credential impact the jewelry?
When your jewelry professional has the Graduate Gemologist® credential, it means they have verified expertise in precious stones. Large companies benefit from having GGs on their teams because they are already trained in the industry. Independent jewelers and goldsmiths who are also Graduate Gemologists® can use their GIA education to serve their clients more effectively. They know what gemstones can be used most effectively in certain settings, styles, and type of jewelry for beauty and durability. For designers, having the gemology knowledge can make all the difference when turning a vision in their mind into reality.
This credential means the jewelry will be made to ensure the gemstones are set as securely as possible and displayed in a way that showcases their beauty. It means your jewelry professional has enough knowledge to help you make the best decisions with your jewelry. It means they can accurately appraise your jewelry for insurance purposes or estate value. A GIA Graduate Gemologist®, no matter their job function in the jewelry industry, has worked hard to gain the knowledge and skills necessary to serve their clients extremely well.
Want to learn more about gems and gemology? Check out our Gemology page!