Licensed gemologists identify and grade gemstones, determine the value of jewelry and provide certified appraisals for estate planning and insurance valuation. Gemologists, sometimes referred to as jewelers, generally work in retail jewelry stores or independently as entrepreneurs. Their credentials, often displayed for customer viewing, lend credibility to a jewelry business. The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, provides the Graduate Gemologist, or G.G. diploma, the most recognized licensed gemologist training program in the United States. You can seek additional certifications to enhance your resume when you complete the G.G. course of study.
Apply to GIA online or download and print an application (see References for links). The GIA application process is noncompetitive and you need only provide background information and pay the application fee and deposit, about 10 percent of the total tuition as of publication, to enroll. You can pursue your gemology licensing coursework at one of GIA's two campuses located in New York and California, or pursue the program by distance learning. The on-campus licensing program can be completed in six months, and the distance-learning option can be completed on a self-paced basis.
Apply for financial aid if needed. Complete the Free Application for Federal Student Aid, commonly known as FAFSA, posted on the U.S. Department of Education website. On-campus tuition costs about $17,300 and distance-learning tuition costs around $5,200 plus lab fees, as of publication. GIA students can apply for the same grants, student loans, veterans benefits and scholarships offered to college students nationwide. If you plan to complete GIA's on-campus program and you do not live in the area — New York City or Carlsbad, Calif. — you must pay for housing in the surrounding community at your own expense.
Complete the G.G. coursework. Courses include diamond identification and grading, colored stone identification and grading, equipment usage, diamond trade language and the fine jewelry-buying process. You can attend lab sessions on-campus, even if you pursue the program on a distance-learning basis. GIA also loans gemstones to distance-learning students to learn gemstone identification from the comfort of home.
Apply for additional certifications. Jewelry industry professional associations, such as the American Gem Society, the Diamond Council of America and Jewelers of America, provide a range of certificates and credentials that bolster your gemologist credentials. Some organizations that offer credentials, such as the American Gem Society, require jewelers seeking AGS credentials to have completed GIA's gemologist certification program before applying.
- Gemological Institute of America: Graduate Gemologist Program
- Gemological Institute of America: eLearning 2011 Tuition and Fees
- Gemological Institute of America: On-Campus 2011 Tuition and Fees
- Gemological Institute of America: 2011 Distance Education Application and Registration
- American Gem Society: Jewelry Trade
- Jewelers of America: Certification and Scholarships
- Automation.com; Diamonds Are Forever, So is Real-Time Data; Thomas R. Cutler
- Studentaid.ed.gov: Completing the FAFSA 2011-1
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