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Become A Gemologist

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Working As A Gemologist

  • Thinking Creatively
  • Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work
  • Getting Information
  • Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information
  • Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge
  • Mostly Sitting

  • Stressful

  • $82,000

    Average Salary

What Does A Gemologist Do

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers design, manufacture, and sell jewelry. They also adjust, repair, and appraise gems and jewelry.

Duties

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers typically do the following:

  • Create jewelry from precious metals and stones
  • Examine and grade diamonds and other gems
  • Clean and polish jewelry using polishing wheels and chemical baths
  • Repair jewelry by replacing broken clasps, altering ring sizes, or resetting stones
  • Smooth joints and rough spots and polish smoothed areas
  • Compute the costs of labor and material for new pieces and repairs
  • Model new pieces with carved wax or computer-aided design, and then cast them in metal
  • Shape metal to hold the gems in pieces of jewelry
  • Solder pieces together and insert stones

Technology is helping to produce high-quality jewelry at a reduced cost and in less time than traditional methods allow. For example, lasers are often used for cutting and improving the quality of stones, for intricate engraving or design work, and for inscribing personal messages on jewelry. Jewelers also use lasers to weld metals together without seams or blemishes, improving the quality and appearance of jewelry.

Some manufacturing firms use computer-aided design and computer-aided manufacturing (CAD/CAM) to make product design easier and to automate some steps. With CAD, jewelers can create a model of a piece of jewelry on a computer and then view the effect of changing different aspects—for example, the design, the stone, or the setting—before cutting a stone or taking other costly steps. With CAM, they can then create a mold of the piece, which makes producing many copies easy.

Some jewelers also use CAD software to design custom jewelry. They let the customer review the design on a computer and see the effect of changes, so that the customer is satisfied before committing to the expense of a customized piece of jewelry.

The following are examples of types of jewelers and precious stone and metal workers:

Precious metal workers expertly manipulate gold, silver, and other metals. They use pliers and other hand tools to shape and manipulate metal. Some may mix alloy ingredients according to metallurgical properties.

Gemologists analyze, describe, and certify the quality and characteristics of gemstones. After using microscopes, computerized tools, and other grading instruments to examine gemstones or finished pieces of jewelry, they write reports certifying that the items are of a particular quality. Most gemologists have completed the Graduate Gemologist program through the Gemological Institute of America.

Jewelry appraisers carefully examine jewelry to determine its value and then write appraisal documents. They determine value by researching the jewelry market and by using reference books, auction catalogs, price lists, and the Internet. They may work for jewelry stores, appraisal firms, auction houses, pawnbrokers, or insurance companies. Many gemologists also become appraisers.

Bench jewelers usually work for jewelry retailers, doing tasks ranging from simple jewelry cleaning and repair to making molds and pieces from scratch.

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How To Become A Gemologist

Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers can enter the occupation on the basis of their education, which is typically earning a high school diploma, or receive on-the-job training, or a combination of the two.

Education

Although most jewelers and precious stone and metal workers have a high school diploma, many trade schools offer courses for workers who seek additional education. Course topics can include introduction to gems and metals, resizing, repair, and computer-aided design (CAD). Programs vary from 6 months to 1 year, and many teach students how to design, cast, set, and polish jewelry and gems, as well as how to use and care for a jeweler’s tools and equipment. Graduates of these programs may be more attractive to employers because they require less on-the-job training. Many gemologists graduate from the Gemological Institute of America. Trade programs usually require applicants to have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Training

Some jewelers learn on the job. For example, in jewelry manufacturing plants, workers develop their skills through on-the-job training. The length of training required to become proficient depends on the difficulty of the specialty. Training usually focuses on casting, setting stones, making models, or engraving.

Other Experience

Some workers gain their skills through related work experience. This may include working alongside a bench jeweler or gemologist while performing the duties of a sales person in a retail jewelry store. Time spent in a store with a bench jeweler or gemologist can provide valuable experience.

Advancement

In manufacturing, some jewelers advance to supervisory jobs, such as master jeweler or head jeweler. Jewelers who work in jewelry stores or repair shops may become managers.

Important Qualities

Artistic ability. Jewelers must have the ability to create designs that are unique and beautiful.

Detail oriented. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must pay attention to large and small details on the pieces they make.

Dexterity. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must precisely move their fingers and tools in order to grasp, manipulate, and assemble very small objects.

Fashion sense. Jewelry designers must know what is stylish and attractive and presently in demand by consumers.

Interpersonal skills. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers interact with customers, whether they sell products in stores or at craft shows.

Near vision. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers need the ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).

Visualization skills. Jewelers and precious stone and metal workers must imagine how something might look after its shape is altered or when its parts are rearranged.

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Gemologist Typical Career Paths

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Average Yearly Salary
$82,000
Show Salaries
$38,000
Min 10%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$82,000
Median 50%
$175,000
Max 90%
Best Paying Company
Highest Paying City
Orange, TX
Highest Paying State
North Dakota
Avg Experience Level
4.3 years
How much does a Gemologist make at top companies?
The national average salary for a Gemologist in the United States is $82,371 per year or $40 per hour. Those in the bottom 10 percent make under $38,000 a year, and the top 10 percent make over $175,000.

Real Gemologist Salaries

Job Title Company Location Start Date Salary
Research Gemologist American Gemological Laboratories, LLC New York, NY Aug 28, 2015 $80,205
Quality Assurance Gemologist Gemological Institute of America, Inc. Carlsbad, CA Sep 26, 2012 $61,483
Chief Gemologist (China CUT) CDEN Diamond USA Inc. New York, NY Sep 07, 2015 $61,000
Gemologist Ovadia Diamonds U.S.A Inc. New York, NY Oct 21, 2009 $60,523
Staff Gemologist Gemological Institute of America, Inc. Carlsbad, CA Sep 15, 2010 $53,205
Research Stone Collection Gemologist Gemological Institute of America (Gia) Carlsbad, CA Dec 22, 2014 $50,232
Gemologist F. Blancato, LLC New York, NY Jul 16, 2011 $48,000
Staff Gemologist Gemological Institute of America (Gia) Carlsbad, CA Apr 11, 2014 $43,930
Staff Gemologist Gemological Institute of America (Gia) New York, NY Apr 14, 2014 $42,099
Staff Gemologist Gemological Institute of America (Gia) Carlsbad, CA Oct 05, 2015 $42,000
Gemologist/Jeweler Dc Group, Inc., D.B.A. Uniquesettings of New York Islandia, NY Mar 09, 2015 $40,477
Gemologist Joy Import & Wholesale, Inc. Glenwood, NM Nov 01, 2011 $39,000
Gemologist Joy Import & Wholesale, Inc. Glen Rock, NJ Nov 14, 2011 $39,000
Gemologist Independent Gemological Laboratories, LLC New York, NY Sep 27, 2013 $35,000

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Top Skills for A Gemologist

  1. Custom Jewelry Pieces
  2. Loose Diamonds
  3. Color Stones
You can check out examples of real life uses of top skills on resumes here:
  • Helped design and create custom jewelry pieces.
  • Exhibited and sold high-end jewelry and loose diamonds at major industry trade shows to new and existing clients.
  • Graded Color stones, Diamond studded Jewelry and Loose diamonds.
  • Have developed extensive customer service abilities
  • Review and catalog estate jewelry items procured by our team, including appraisal and repair evaluations.

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Average Salary:

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Top 10 Best States for Gemologists

  1. North Dakota
  2. South Dakota
  3. Wyoming
  4. Colorado
  5. Minnesota
  6. Nebraska
  7. Utah
  8. Oklahoma
  9. Tennessee
  10. Arkansas
  • (4 jobs)
  • (4 jobs)
  • (2 jobs)
  • (19 jobs)
  • (23 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)
  • (6 jobs)
  • (5 jobs)
  • (7 jobs)
  • (3 jobs)

Gemologist Demographics

Gender

Female

49.3%

Male

35.8%

Unknown

14.9%
Ethnicity

White

62.2%

Hispanic or Latino

13.3%

Black or African American

11.4%

Asian

8.3%

Unknown

4.7%
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Foreign Languages Spoken

Spanish

40.0%

French

20.0%

Dutch

10.0%

Russian

10.0%

Polish

10.0%

Italian

10.0%
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Gemologist Education

Schools

Gemological Institute of America

60.0%

Arizona State University

2.5%

Bowie State University

2.5%

Fashion Institute of Technology

2.5%

Moraine Valley Community College

2.5%

Queens College of the City University of New York

2.5%

Gemological Institute of America-New York

2.5%

University of North Carolina at Greensboro

2.5%

Missouri Southern State University

2.5%

University of Phoenix

2.5%

Capella University

2.5%

San Diego State University

2.5%

University of Arizona

2.5%

Towson University

2.5%

University of Connecticut

1.3%

Northern Kentucky University

1.3%

University of Nevada - Reno

1.3%

Colorado College

1.3%

New York Institute of Art and Design

1.3%

University of San Francisco

1.3%
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Majors

Business

21.6%

Fine Arts

13.5%

Geology

7.2%

Management

6.3%

Accounting

6.3%

Psychology

5.4%

Education

4.5%

Finance

3.6%

Graphic Design

3.6%

Medical Technician

2.7%

Political Science

2.7%

Marketing

2.7%

Elementary Education

2.7%

Economics

2.7%

English

2.7%

Supply Chain Management

2.7%

Communication

2.7%

Real Estate

2.7%

Apparel And Textiles

1.8%

Drafting And Design

1.8%
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Degrees

Bachelors

38.5%

Other

29.9%

Masters

10.3%

Associate

10.3%

Certificate

4.0%

Diploma

3.4%

License

1.7%

Doctorate

1.7%
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