Does the world of gemstones ignite a fire within you? Then why not learn how to become a gemstone dealer or a gemologist? Gemstone dealers and jewelers speak many languages because they work with gemologists, lapidaries, appraisers, sellers, and consumers to buy and sell gemstones and jewelry. Gemologists work hands-on in a laboratory with a variety of gemstones from all over the world to identify and grade gems.
There are many exciting jobs within the world of gemology. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the steps to become a gemstone dealer or gemologist.
We’ll show you what training is required for each position, and discuss salaries and working environments. Ready to navigate into an exciting new career? Let’s get started.
A gemologist is a skilled professional who studies the science of gemstones. Working in a laboratory, gemologists identify, appraise, grade, and examine all sorts of gemstones. Gemologists undergo specialized training to carefully survey gemstones based on optical properties, physical structure, light, and inclusions, among other key features. These features tell the gemologists information about the gemstone’s origin, value, authenticity, and composition.
Some gemologists also facet gemstones in a lab. In other words, they cut rough specimens into gemstone shapes. However, this specialized task is typically reserved for a Lapidary (gemstone cutter).
If you are fascinated with precious and semi-precious organic and mineral gemstones, the first step to becoming a gemologist is to get trained and certified.
Unlike traditional career paths that require a college degree, gemology is a skilled trade you learn from taking certification classes. You have a few choices for your training:
The Graduate Gemologist Program through the Gemological Institute of America
Professional Gemologist Certification from The International Gem Society
Courses from independent trade schools in your area
You can take a comprehensive course that covers all facets of gemology or isolate specific courses that interest you most. For example, if you want to get certified as a diamond specialist, you can take specific training for that.
If you’re more interested in color grading, gem identification, or treatments, you can take one at a time, or work through each training section to collect certifications. Once you’ve obtained education and certification, you’re ready to enter the workforce.
The most valuable training you’ll have is on-the-job. Your studies and certification are a great foundation, but being in the lab is the best way to put your training into practice. The average gemologist salary is $50,462 a year, according to PayScale.
Here’s a salary breakdown for gemologists:
Entry-level gemologists typically make $40,000 a year
Gemologists with 5-9 years of experience make around $50,000 a year
Expert gemologists with 10-19 years of experience make 58,000 a year
Let’s see how the job of a gemstone dealer compares.
The job description of a gemstone dealer isn’t as straightforward as a gemologist, because the tasks vary day-to-day. Unique challenges arise because gemstone dealers wear many hats — from securing purchases with wholesalers to curating a collection to selling gemstones and jewelry to consumers.
While gemstone dealers don’t necessarily need to get certified, it helps to have a background in gemology. After all, you’ll be selling gemstones and the best way to do that in a trustworthy way is to have an intimate understanding of gemstones.
Furthermore, gemstone dealers also tend to know the interworkings of gemstone cutting and appraising. As you can see, becoming a gemstone dealer requires a wide array of knowledge, but that is what makes it such an exciting career.
The duties of a gemstone dealer range, but it helps to have a wide range of skills to draw from. Some tasks gemstone dealers do regularly include:
Buying gemstones from wholesale dealers
Selling gemstones to customers or collectors
Working with customers to customize jewelry
Traveling around the world to find unique gemstones
Working with gemstone brokers to make deals with sellers
Evaluate, appraise, and identify gemstones (often alongside a certified gemologist)
Cleaning and maintaining gemstones
Gemstone dealers and jewelers typically make between $30,000 to $70,000 a year. Of course, this entirely depends on the scope of a dealer’s collection and who they typically work with. For example, gem dealers who sell extremely rare gemstones can make a lot of money.
However, buying rare gems requires large investment capital to get started and the sales might not be as often. Then there are specialized gem dealers who sell exotic or exclusive gemstones. If you’re in the diamond trade, you can depend on consistent sales because diamonds are one of the most popular gemstones available.
As you can see, the salary will vary depending on what type of gemstones you sell. There really are no limits to how many varieties of gems you can work with, which makes it an exciting career choice!
Gemologists and gemstone dealers make up a large portion of gemology careers, but they aren’t the only options. Here are additional gemology careers you may want to look into:
Gemstone Appraiser - This job involves appraising the value of gemstones based on strategic studying of the specimen and following market trends. On average, gemstone appraisers make $50,000 to $70,000 a year.
Lapidary (gemstone cutter) - If the prospect of transforming a rough specimen into a striking gemstone appeals to you, you may want to consider a career as a lapidary. Gem cutters create custom designs from rough materials and sell them to jewelers and gemstone dealers. Lapidaries make between $20,000 to $60,000 a year.
Auction-House Gemologist - Another diverse gemology career is an auction gemologist, which involves working at an auction house to appraise gemstone and jewelry. You’ll need a gemology background to best appraise, purchase, and navigate this risky yet thrilling job. You’ll encounter exotic and rare gemstones from private collectors and make between $50,000 to $65,000 a year.
The world of gemology opens the door to many exciting and lucrative careers. Which one speaks to you? Whether your calling is to design custom gemstones or negotiate deals, you’re in for an exciting future in the fascinating world of gemstones!
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