What Are the Requirements to Become a Gemologist?

Gemologists grade the quality of gemstones.
Gemologists grade the quality of gemstones. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

A gemologist's job is to analyze a stone and determine its characteristics and quality. The Bureau of Labor Statistics, or BLS, notes that this is done with microscopes and grading instruments. The study of gemology helps a jeweler learn about the physical properties of various gemstones. Training for gemologists can take place on the job or via a formal program offered by a vocational school or gemology institute.


The BLS explains that employment prospects are better for gemologists who complete a formal training program; however, formal training isn't a prerequisite for employment in the jewelry industry. Individuals who wish to enroll in a gemology training program need a high school diploma or GED. Training programs teach students how to properly identify and grade various gemstones, including diamonds.


The Gemological Institute of America, or GIA, offers a graduate gemologist program that's recognized by employers throughout the jewelry industry. In a graduate gemologist program, students learn terminology, how to use equipment and how the "4Cs" — color, clarity, cut and carat weight — impact the value of a stone. The program can be completed on campus or online and takes about six months to complete.


Aspiring gemologists can earn credentials through the GIA in areas such as colored stones, diamonds or pearls. Alternatively, the International School of Gemology, or ISG, awards a registered gemologist diploma to students who complete a series of courses, as well as written and gem identification examinations. The ISG certification program is completed via distance learning; the school offers a certification in gemology and jewelry appraisal for students who wish to earn credentials in both disciplines.


The BLS states that employment for jewelers will grow by about 5 percent through the year 2018. This rate is slower than the average for other occupations. However, prospects will be favorable for trained jewelers, including gemologists, who must replace individuals who are retiring from the industry. Gemologists typically find employment with jewelry manufacturers, importers and retailers or at gemological laboratories, according to the BLS. As of May 2008, the median annual salary for jewelers was $32,940.

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