What is a Gemmologist?
I’m a Gemmologist! But would you believe I once asked this question too? In my quest to create a new career and a new life for our family, I searched for jobs that would allow me to work with gemstone quality crystals and unique mineral specimens. One day I stumbled upon a website that explained that people called Gemmologists (or Gemologists) get to spend all day, every day, working with gemstones. I thought this sounded amazing, but what did that actually mean?
It means that Gemmologists have undertaken study in the scientific field of gemstones. They are not Geologists, but they have a general understanding of how gemstones are made both through natural processes and in laboratories. They are not Miners, but they aware of the different techniques for locating, mining and processing gemstones. They are not Scientists, but they understand the chemical composition of different gemstones and how that makes them unique in their shape, colour and other characteristics.
Of course you may find some Gemmologists who actually are all of the above! Many people in the gem industry have backgrounds in science and geology. But this is not a requirement to be a Gemmologist. In fact, I used to be a Town Planner.
How do you become a Gemmologist?
I completed a two-year Diploma in Gemmology at the Gemmological Association of Australia (Brisbane campus). Visit www.gem.org.au for more information.
During that time I spent many night classes learning theory about:
- what a gemstone is and what qualities they should have to be classed a gemstone
- how precious minerals are formed through geological processes
- how precious minerals are discovered and mined
- how precious minerals are cut and fashioned into gemstones
- which characteristics help us to separate one gemstone from another.
We also spent many practical classes learning scientific methods to:
- use gemmological equipment to identify gemstones
- separate the natural earth-mined stones from synthetic or lab-created stones, and
- determine if any treatments have been applied to the gemstone.
I loved it so much that I then went on to complete a year-long diploma specialising in Diamonds! The Diploma in Diamond Technology included a practical component learning how to grade the quality of diamonds in accordance with International standards. For this class I also did some in-depth research on The Kimberley Process Certification Scheme; established in an attempt to reduce the impact of 'conflict' diamonds.
Now that I'm qualified, what's next?
There are a lot of different career options for Gemmologists. Some decide to use their training to feed their personal obsession for sparkly things (totally acceptable!). Others are moving on to become accredited Jewellery and Gemstone Valuers. Others have the dream to work in a gem laboratory, producing laboratory reports to provide accurate gemstone identification for clients. Many Gemmologists works in sales or inventory in jewellery stores around the world, helping customers to feel confident that they are buying the perfect piece for their loved ones.
So, to summarise, Gemmologists are trained professionals who are able to:
- identify various gemstones using gemmological equipment
- separate natural gemstones from synthetic or laboratory-created gemstones
- identify whether treatments have been applied to gemstones
- in some cases, identify which treatments have been applied; this can depend on which equipment they have available to them. Some stones will need to be referred to an advanced gemmological laboratory for further testing.
We are mini-Detectives who love to play with sparkly objects! But most of all, we love being able to give our customers peace of mind, when selecting a one of a kind gemstone for their collection or bespoke piece of jewellery.
Co-Owner of Amara Gemstones and Gemmologist FGAA, DipDT, AJP