A Painful Truth: Part III

What is a GIA Graduate Gemologist?

I’m going to approach this post as a question and answer between myself and my colleague as we have both earned graduate gemologist diplomas through the Gemological Institute of America.


Q1. What is a GIA Graduate Gemologist?


Christiane- I think the best way to answer this is to quote the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) directly, “One of the most prestigious credentials in the industry, the GIA Graduate Gemologist program gives you the comprehensive knowledge of diamonds and coloured stones you need to succeed anywhere in the jewelry business.”

The graduate gemologist title creates trust and understanding, and the education gives an edge unlikely to be found in any other way. Though education through experience can certainly be earned, being taught the ropes by industry leaders in the state-of-the-art labs in both California and New York gave both Keely and myself an extensive look at diamonds and diamond grading, coloured stones and coloured stone grading, as well as gem identification.

Q2: Why are GIA Graduate Gemologists Important?

Keely- GIA Graduate Gemologists are trained, well-educated professionals who have learned at what is considered the most prestigious professional gemology school in the world. Through their education they have been certified to be able to:

  • Have in-depth knowledge of the diamond grading system and know the ins and outs of the four C’s of diamonds
  • Grade diamonds based on the four C’s
  • Provide insurance appraisals
  • Utilize gemological equipment
  • Identify synthetic gemstones, imitation diamonds, and stones that have been treated
  • Identify gemstones
  • Recognize and determine how various gem attributes and market factors affect gem value
  • Understand the process of mining, fashioning, and transporting diamonds and other gems

Whether for repairs, advice, or purchases, choosing to work with a GIA graduate gemologist means you will be working with a well-educated professional with extensive industry knowledge; someone with the education necessary to help you make an informed buying decision.

Q3. What does it take to become a GIA Graduate Gemologist?


Keely- In short? Intensive learning and lab time. Over my 8-month intensive course at the New York campus, I studied the gem process, from their formation in the earth, to mining, to cutting, and jewellery creation. I learned what to look for inside a stone and what tests to run to tell two similar looking stones apart from each other. I took multiple written exams covering the theory from diamonds, coloured stones, and gem identification, spent hours in the lab learning the ins and outs and looked at and identified over 3100 stones.

The last exam I took before earning my diploma is called the 20-stone exam and it takes a perfect score to pass. The twenty stone exam is an exam that involves using laboratory techniques and knowledge to tell one stone from another; it is not an easy exam to pass and many of my fellow students did not pass on the first, and many even on their second try (there are five attempts in total). I was proud to pass on my first attempt as my father had done before me.

Christiane- I completed the GIA distance education program in Carlsbad, California. I completed on site labs, took two written exams on the theory of both diamonds and coloured gemstones, and continued my practical gem education outside of GIA, examining over 1000 stones, before taking and passing my 20-stone exam on my first attempt. Due to my part-time approach, my completion and receipt of my diploma took about a year and a half. The twenty stone was not easy, and I watched people come in and take it over and over, failing to complete it with 100% accuracy.

Overall, the graduate gemologist title and credentials assure a knowledge and understanding of the industry, of gemstones and diamonds, and the education necessary to ensure you’re making an informed buying decision.

On that topic, stay tuned for the next—and last!—blog post on this subject, Buying Smart.



Diamond Illustration