Cochise College           Student Papers in Geology

Geology Home Page                   physical geology  historical geology  planetary  gems           

Roger Weller, geology instructor

by Marilyn Wood
Physical Geology
Spring 2007


   How to become a gemologist?  


            To become a properly trained gemologist a person needs to pass the requirements for a diploma in gemology.  In truth, becoming a good gemologist will take a lifetime. The field of gemology is so vast, keeping current is a continuing education process.  Once becoming a certified gemologist there are many job options available.  You can become an appraiser, a Diamond buyer, a jewelry business owner, become a lab and research professional, an auction house jewelry specialist, and the list goes on.  Now you might be wondering, “How I go about getting my gemologist diploma?”  There are many schools to choose from. 


In the United States these include:





International Schools:





            For this report we will discuss GIA, one of the best known schools in the United States.


 History of Gemological Institute of America (GIA)


            Robert M. Shipley studied at the Gemological Association of Great Britain    in 1928.  Inspired by what he had learned, Shipley decided to open the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) in Los Angeles in 1931.  Today GIA is the best known and respected institute in the U.S.  The GIA is the creator of the famous 4Cs of diamond value (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight).  The institute is also known for having developed and patented the first modern jeweler's loupe.  Along with being able to get a Graduate Gemologist (G.G.) degree, the school has expanded its education into the fields of Jewelry Design and Manufacturing Arts.


Time it Takes to Earn a GG, and the Cost       


            Campuses are located in: Carlsbad, CA, New York, Los Angles, and internationally.  If attending a campus, classes are given every six months for the cost of about $14,695.  It will take approximately 26 weeks (780 hours).  If perusing a program online a person can work at their own pace for up to a maximum of 5 and a half years to complete the program, at the cost of $7,420 (cost are subject to change).  Online classes are given as individual classes (5 courses and 3 labs) as apposed to attending a campus where the classes are given as a unit.


In earning a GG, the program teaches:

o        How to grade diamonds using the 4Cs (color, clarity, cut, and carat weight)

o        How to detect fracture-filled diamonds

o        How to separate natural gems from synthetic and imitation gems

o        How to grade and identify colored gems

o        How to describe color in gemstones

o        How to use gemological equipment to identify gems and detect important treatments

o        How gems are mined, sorted, and brought to market


A GG student needs the following equipment:

            Most of the equipment shown is from the GIA web site; other stores might save money, but make sure that the quality of the equipment is right for the price.

o        Gem Tweezers  and  Cloth



o        10x Loupe or Microscope



o        Refractometer with Polarizing Filter



o        Dichroscope



o        Polariscope



o        Spectroscope



o        This package can be ordered from GIA, it includes most of the equipment required for their school.


            When taking GG classes on line, the student will need to have full access to all equipment.  Their may be a mentor in your vicinity willing to permit use of their resources.  Students in resident study will be expected to pay a lab fee to use the equipment.


            After receiving the GG diploma, this is a list of average salaries in the United States job market.


Average Salary Ranges of Gemologists in US market:


o        Jewelry Store Salesperson:                                   $20,000.00 to $50,000.00

            (Entry Level)

o        Appraiser for Jewelry Store:                                  $30,000.00 to $40,000.00


o        Jewelry Store Sales / Appraiser / Manager:          $30,000.00 to $75,000.00

            (5 Years Experience)

o        Diamond Grader / Stone Sorter for Importer:        $20,000.00 to $25,000.00

            (All Levels)

o        Wholesale / Import Dealer Sales / Gemologist:     $20,000.00 to $80,000.00

            (Entry to Experienced Levels)

o        Independent Appraiser:                                         $30,000.00 to $80.000.00+

            (Very Experienced with Appraisal Training)

Courtesy of:




School Links:

o        Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences (AIGS)

o        American Gem Society (AGS)

o        Canadian Gemmological Association (CGA)

o        Diamond Council of America (DCA)

o        Ecole de Gemmologie De Montreal Inc (EGM)

o        The Gemmological Association and Gem Testing Laboratory of Great Britain (GEM-A)

o        Gemological Institute of America (GIA)

o        International School of Gemology (ISG)


Equipment Links:

o        Figure 1     Gem Tweezers

o        Figure 2     Gem Cloth

o        Figure 3     10x Loupe

o        Figure 4     10x Loupe

o        Figure 5     Gem Microscope

o        Figure 6     Refractometer with Polarizing Filter

o        Figure 7     Dichroscope

o        Figure 8     Dichroscope

o        Figure 9     Polariscope

o        Figure 10   Spectroscope

o        Figure 11   Spectroscope

o        Figure 12   Gem Identification Package


Additional Links:

o        Your Gemologist

o        Gemologist Pay Scale