With the growing demand for gemstone identification and grading services, this is the right time to take gemmology as a career
From the gem mines of Africa to the trading centre of Antwerp and from the manufacturing hub of Surat to the retail market of Tokyo, a career as a gemmologist can take you on an exciting global journey. You may ask “what is gemmology?” and “how do I become a gemmologist?” We have the answers. Gemmology is the study of gemstones, including diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, etc. A gemstone is a beautiful, durable and rare mineral that is often incorporated in jewellery and other adornments. Organic materials such as amber, coral and pearl are also considered gemstones.
The study of gemmology involves understanding the formation, classification and properties (optical and physical) of these gemstones. Gemmology is a great career option for individuals with an interest in science and gems.
A gemmologist specialises in identifying the properties of different gemstones. With gemmological issues such as treatments and synthetics, the practice of accurately identifying stones is more crucial than ever.
Embarking on an education in gemmology opens doors to various career opportunities as a buyer, trader, researcher, etc. Gemmological laboratories around the world consistently seek new talent to accommodate the growing demand for gemstone identification and grading services.
If you are particularly fascinated by diamonds or gems such as rubies, sapphires and emeralds, the industry has much to offer. India is one of world’s largest diamond manufacturing centres, and a specialisation in diamonds holds high value in the industry here. Likewise, fine-tuned knowledge of coloured-gem origin, colour and quality is a highly-sought-after skill, particularly in Jaipur — India’s coloured stone manufacturing hub. Gemstone manufacturers, jewellers and jewellery retails chains that deal with diamonds and coloured gems highly value individuals with specific gemmological training.
Estimates suggest that 60 per cent by value, 82 per cent by volume and 95 per cent of the global total of cut and polished diamonds are processed in India. The country is also the largest gold consumer in the world, and has an excellent infrastructure for diamond cutting. As a result, gemmology can prove to be a lucrative and satisfying career.
Students can either select a gemmology study programme after 10+2 or post-completion of their graduation.
When considering a course in gemmology, it is important to choose a reputable institute with globally-recognised qualifications and certifications. Gemmology courses that allow students to handle a variety of real stones expose them to what they’ll find in the working world. Treatments, simulants and synthetics are technical concepts that require hands-on training.
Choosing an intensive course, which typically lasts from 9 to 26 weeks, will provide comprehensive training in the field. The institute should provide individuals with basic infrastructure such as the latest gemmological equipment (microscopes and refractometers). A smaller class size will also allow for individual attention from the instructors.
While choosing the institute, remember to take into consideration the overall development of a gem and jewellery professional. For instance, does the institute conduct field trips to manufacturing units that demonstrate how gems are processed or jewellery is manufactured? Does it invite industry leaders for guest lectures to share their experiences and knowledge? Does it provide language assistance for understanding of complex technical concepts? Does it offer networking opportunities by providing access to industry events and trade shows? These aspects lend themselves to the overall learning experience.
GIA (Gemmological Institute of America) is one such institute providing a 26-week Graduate Gemmologist programme where students gain the grading and identification skills necessary to become a buyer, appraiser, retailer or senior professional in the gem and jewellery industry. For those who want to specialise, the institute offers programmes in Graduate Diamonds and Graduate Coloured Stones.
Trained gemmologists are in high demand today, propelled by growing consumer awareness about quality diamonds and gems.
(Nirupa Bhatt is the Managing Director of GIA in India and the Middle East)