Gemmologist P.J. Joseph believes that when it comes to gemstones, people are not educated enough

In a country where gold is given a level of importance bordering on reverence, every other commodity of value is thrown under the shadow of the yellow metal, be it as an investment or as a part of traditional rituals. A situation that P.J. Joseph, a gem expert, believes is the result of people “not being educated on the topic of precious stones.”

Joseph, an alumnus of the Deutsche Gemmologische Gessellschaft in Germany, an institute specialising in training and research on gemstones, went on to serve as Academic Director at the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences in Thailand before returning to India in 2010.

Joseph, who spent a year working at a bank before being accepted into the German Institute, believes his time in Thailand helped him become an authority on the subject. “Thailand is one of the colour stone capitals of the world. With nearby countries being major gem producing centres and the political instability in the surrounding regions, Bangkok became a major centre for gem cutting and treatment. Getting a qualification in gemology is only the first step, as most courses only last six months. It is practice that matters, and being in Thailand allowed me to gain experience ,” he says.

Teaching about stones

He is now planning to set up a mobile training programme for jewellers and consumers in all the southern states, helping them identify the value of gems and teaching them the basics of handling precious stones.

To this end, he has set up his own company, Gem Identification and Grading Academy LLP, at his home town in Changanasserry. “It is always easier to deal with an educated consumer. Since India does not have a proper consumer protection system for gemstones, a lot of confusion abounds. Sometimes even jewellers are fooled into accepting sub-standard gems and the consumers buy these because of their faith in the jeweller. My plan is to impart some training to both parties so that more people take an interest in coloured stones,” explains Joseph, who has also authored a book titled The Book Of Oh My God Gemstones.

Joseph goes on to explain the difficulties that arise in dealing with gemstones, “Unlike diamonds, which have master stones and a grading system put forward by the Gemological Institute of America, coloured stones cannot be graded in the same way, because there are so many hues that are seen differently based on geography and culture. For instance, in Brazil there are hundreds of ways to describe black while Eskimos have different names for different shades of snow, which all appears white to others. So the value of coloured stones is subjective more often than not.”

He is in talks with various associations to invite participation to the training programmes on gem identification and grading that he plans to conduct. The training will be conducted in a particular region provided there are more than 15 participants.

As of now, he plans to provide two options, a 20-day programme for Rs. 25,000 and a 15-day programme for Rs. 18,000, with three to four hour sessions per day.

Besides plans to expand into gem trading and write more books and he is also toying with the idea of starting an internet company with gemstone related services.

For more information about Joseph and his programmes, visit his website.

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