It was on to colored stones!
I completed my latest course at the Gemology Institute of America as I continue my journey to become a Graduate Gemologist. The information we learned was fascinating, but just as interesting was the group of people I studied with during the three-day lab at the GIA headquarters in Carlsbad, California.
Students came from Canada, France and Singapore, as well as the U.S. Their ages spanned a wide range. Some were studying for their second careers, transitioning into the jewelry trade.
Most of them – maybe 80 percent – worked in some aspect of the jewelry business, retail or wholesale. Some travel the world trading in rough stones. There were bench jewelers, and two attended from a pawn-type shop. We had a couple of rock hounds who had been scouring the hillsides for gems since they were kids. One student appraised consigned goods for an online site, so she needed to be knowledgeable about stones.
Some very experienced professionals worked with big-dollar items, as much as a half-million dollars. They thought they knew everything there was to know about stones, but by the lab’s end, said they wished they had learned this material years ago.
In my class, most of the students had already taken the week-long diamond lab as had I. Most of us are working toward a graduate gemologist degree, a GG; however, for one of our classmates, the journey was over. He already had passed the most difficult section, Gem Identification, and just needed to complete Colored Stones. He became a graduate gemologist, and we all celebrated.
Similar to the teacher who taught the Diamond Lab, this teacher was superb – never boring – and we never watched the clock. We were hands-on with the stones, with tweezers and a loupe. The stones were generally small, with nothing over a carat.
My next course will be Gem Identification, which everyone acknowledges is the most difficult in the series. We will identify more than 60 species of gemstones, distinguish natural gems from synthetics, and detect gem treatments. I’m looking forward to it – both the knowledge about stones and to share the experience with more interesting colleagues.