Gemology is a branch of science that deals with the study of gemstones. The certified professionals who work in this field are called gemologists. Their duties usually involve identifying, grading, and appraising gemstones.
In some cases, a gemologist can tell what gemstone is before him by looking at it, but this may not always be possible. Two different gemstones such as blue topaz and aquamarine may look nearly identical. This means that gemologists are often required to perform a series of tests to determine the true identity of a gemstone. Usually one test is only enough to provide indicators but insufficient for complete identification.
Once gemstones are identified, they may also be analyzed so that they can be graded. A grading report typically accesses the quality of a gemstone’s features such as color, clarity, and cutting properties. There are various grading systems and the results given by one gemologist can vary from those given by another.
Appraising is another task that some gemologists perform. This generally involves assessing a cut and polished gemstone. The gemologist who appraises a gemstone is most likely concerned with determining whether it is natural or synthetic and how much it is worth. Some appraisers work independently. Others may work for auction houses and jewelry stores.
Retail jewelry stores tend to be a major employer of gemologists. This is where many professionals get the experience they need to move on to other gemology careers. In the retail setting, a gemologist may serve as a sales person or buyer. He may also serve as an adviser to jewelry designers. People who design and make jewelry may not have sufficient gemological knowledge to know which gemstones can be used for which purposes.
A gemologist may also find work at a museum. In this capacity, he may evaluate and access donations or gemstones that the museum wishes to acquire. He is likely to provide information that will help the facility decide which purchases are wise and to appraise collections for insurance purposes. He may also be responsible for providing information displayed on the placards for gemstones on exhibit.
There are many individual gemology courses that people can take. Upon completing a course, a person is often granted a certificate that proves he completed that course. It is important to note this does not make a person a certified gemologist by industry standards. A true gemologist will generally have a diploma he earned by completing a gemological curriculum outlined by a recognized institution.