What is Gemology and What Does a Gemologist Do?

What is Gemology and What Does a Gemologist Do?

More than 35% of the diamonds in the world are bought by customers in the USA. I thought you should know. The USA recorded a whopping $23 billion from imports related to diamonds in 2019.

With this massive expenditure, it helps to wonder, how do all these people know that the diamonds they are buying are authentic?

The only way they can know if they are getting a genuine gem is to know what is gemology, what does a gemologist do and by seeking the help of a gemologist.

Gemologists are very important in the jewelry purchasing process, especially for inexperienced buyers. They help to identify the difference between real diamonds and lab-created diamonds as well as fake stones.

These professionals also help jewelry customers to understand the origin of diamonds, diamond cuts how they impact the value, and how to assess diamond quality. All this information is necessary when looking for the best online store to buy an engagement ring.

Gemology is the field of knowledge that deals with the study of gemstones. Gemologists, therefore, are the best people to tell you whether a diamond stone is real or not. Wait a minute, what does a gemologist do?

How can you become a gemologist?

How much salary can you expect as a gemologist? Who will pay you?

Keep reading to get all the answers you need.

What is Gemology?

Donald Clark, the founder of IGS defines gemology as “the scientific study of gemstones.” This simply means that gemology is the study of precious stones.

Gemology involves the science of identifying, shaping, and valuing a gemstone.


This science involves the materials inside the earth’s crust that form the gemstone, correct terms used in the gemstone industry, testing, cutting, cleaning, and polishing techniques. With the help of technology, gemology also involves the study of how gemstones are manufactured in the laboratory.

There are two categories of gemology: practical gemology and special gemology. Practical gemology is all about the characteristics and properties of different kinds of gemstones. It is also about grading and setting aside natural diamonds from imitations.

Special gemology concentrates on different kinds and variations of gemstones such as artificial diamonds, real diamonds, and diamond imitations.

Who is a Gemologist?

So, what does a gemologist do?

Given that gemology is the study of gemstones, it is obvious that the person who studies gemology is a gemologist. A qualified gemologist, however, must complete formal education and training in gemology.

Going through gemology training enables an individual to carefully identify, analyze and grade a gemstone. With the kind of training a gemologist undertakes, he or she can see what an ordinary person cannot in a gemstone. So, even if you already know the best place to buy gemstones online, consulting a gemologist will be beneficial before you choose a gemstone.

It is for this reason that a gemologist is an important part when one needs information about a gemstone’s value and to tell if the stone is genuine.

These experts do not only concentrate on the gemstone grade and authenticity but also be aware of industry trends and the jewelry market direction.

This means that gemologists have to read and research a lot to keep themselves up to date with what is happening in the jewelry industry.

gemologist at work

Working Tools for a Gemologist

Different gemologists do different kinds of work depending on which gemology sub-sector they are in. because of this, it is impossible to list all the tools that gemologists need to do their work. However, the most important tools as listed by the International Gem Society include:

  • Loupe: This is a magnifying glass
  • Microscope: This is the tool used to look at and determine the kind of material trapped inside a gemstone. These materials are called inclusions and help differentiate between a real and lab gemstone.
  • Refractometer: This is used to show the gem expert the gemstone’s refractive index, which plays an important role in the stone’s identity.
  • Balanced beam scale and heavy liquids: The balance beam scale is used to measure the gravity of the stone to determine whether the stone will sink or float when dropped in heavy liquid. The density of the stone is essential in helping to set it apart from a stone that looks similar.
  • Dichroscope: This device can be slid into the pocket easily and is used to separate the gemstone colors. It also works well to differentiate natural stones from synthetic ones.
  • Polariscope: another tool used to identify a real gem from a lab-grown. It detects any twinning and strains in the stone. In other words, it looks at any strains of intergrowth in the crystals found in a diamond.
  • Spectroscope: a gemologist uses this handheld tool to see the elements found in a gemstone. This is important in helping to determine the kind of stone it is.

gemologist at work

In addition to the above tools, IGS recommends that a gemologist also gets a calibrated scale, micrometer or calipers, gem holder or tweezers, diamond detector, a scale, lighting and stands, and a jeweler’s eye.

Careers in Gemology

J.D. Institute of Fashion Technology in India recognizes that gemology began as a branch of mineralogy but has since grown to become a science on its own. Mineralogy is the study of minerals or any artifacts made of minerals as well as their chemical, physical, and crystal structure.

The same award-winning institute recognizes different career paths that fall in the field of gemology. Some of them include:

  • Lab researcher and grader: This is the person who uses advanced lab equipment to investigate different gemstones coming from the field. The major role is to identify gemstones and grade them.
  • Appraiser: Carries out the sole responsibility of estimating the gemstone’s value. This is however a challenging career according to IGS since a variety of subjective opinions find their way to honest appraisals. As a result, a slight difference in the grade means a huge difference in dollars.
  • Retailer: These refer to the jewelry shops that have salespeople as well as in-house gem experts. While the sales reps will help with the administration processes of buying a diamond, the specialists will help the buyers will all the relevant gem information needed to make a purchase.
  • Merchandiser: This career deals with the strategies that involve estimating demand, deciding on the products that will be ordered, and finding a reliable vendor from whom they can buy the products.
  • Gemstone and diamond wholesaler or buyer: In this career, an individual is tasked with deciding when to buy large or small quantities of diamonds and gemstones from different sources where they are mined or made. The person will also be in charge of finding new gemstone sources and bargaining on the buying price in order to make a profit when selling.
  • Jewelry designer: Uses his or her artistic skill to recreate a rough gemstone into a nice-looking jewelry piece that you find at the shops.
  • Museum specialist or auction house: These are houses that facilitate the auction or buy of jewelry on behalf of the clients. However, these need to have an idea of the quality and value of the stone to be auctioned. In such a shop, a gemologist is needed to provide this information.
  • Jewelry blogger or photographer: These are media personalities who can take gorgeous photographs of gemstones and diamonds and write about them in blogs on the internet or print media.
  • Lapidary artist: Responsible for cutting and polishing a gemstone and converting it into the best jewelry piece that sells.
  • Educator: May be found in museums. they take customers on a gemstone tour and help them understand basic information or any other thing they may have ignored.

How Do You Become a Gemologist?

A close look at the list above with several career paths that you can choose, it is clear that gemology has several openings for people with different interests in gemstones. So, what is gemology and what do you need to do to become a gemologist?

Important Qualities

Before you think of becoming a gemologist, have a look at some of the most important qualities you need to have.

Eye for detail: most jewelry customers approach a gemologist because they do not know how to look at and interpret the details of the gemstone of their choice. A gemologist needs to pay attention to details to determine the characteristics of the stone.

Mathematics: from the different careers listed above, there is no denying that mathematics is important to be a successful gemologist. knowledge in mathematics makes it easy to use the tools of the trade.

Communication skills: you need to be a good and clear communicator to present the gemstone details to people who know nothing about gemstones.

Gemologist Training

Gem Rock Auctions is a market online where rough and loose gemstones, minerals, and birthstones are sold. According to this institution, you need to take a certification course to become a gemologist and not just a college degree.

Gem Rock Auctions developed a list of the best training classes you can take for your chosen career in gemology. Below is a list of institutions from which you can get these training classes.

Gemological Institute of America: from this establishment, you will get extensive knowledge in diamonds and colored stones you need to thrive in the jewelry industry.

The International Gem Society: unlike other traditional courses, you can get gemology knowledge from this institution online. Some of the common courses they offer include a gemology tools mini-course, diamond specialist certification course, and professional gemologist certification course.

  • Gemological Association of Australia: Their courses will earn you a GAA diploma in gemology. The association allows you to apply for a fellowship upon graduating.
  • You can also try to find reliable information about gemology schools around your location or any apprenticeship programs that you can join.

Where do Gemologists Work and How are they Paid?

Given the various career paths, gemologists can get jobs in many industries. Gemologists can work in jewelry showrooms, jewelry shops, the mining industry, jewelry labs, museums, training institutions, jewelry consulting firms, auction houses, and online diamond stores.

Get more information about what is gemology and gemologists do to add value to the best jewelry brands by reading our reviews about James Allen and Brilliant Earth.

Information got from ZipRecruiter.com, a job search engine reveals that on average, a gemologist in the U.S earns between $24,000-$73,500 annually. The national average is $42,110.

Zippia.com on the other hand shows the average amount of money earned by a gemologist in a year as $54,374.thismakes it a $26.14 pay per hour rate. This site also speculates that careers in gemology are expected to grow by 7% between 2018 and 2028 and give rise to more than 2,800 job opportunities in

Leave a Reply