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Occupational Profile

Gemmologist

Gemmologists apply their knowledge of natural gemstones, synthetics and imitations to identify and grade coloured stones and diamonds.

  • Avg. Salary N/A
  • Avg. Wage N/A
  • Minimum Education High school diploma
  • Outlook N/A
Also Known As

Appraiser

NOC & Interest Codes
The Gemmologist is part of the following larger National Occupational Classification (NOC).
Jewellers and Related Workers
NOC code: 7344.1
OBJECTIVE

Interest in precision working to examine, cut, shape and polish diamonds and precious and synthetic gems using optical instruments, lathes, laps and cutting disks

INNOVATIVE

Interest in analyzing information to differentiate between stones, to appraise gemstones and diamonds, and to identify rare specimens

METHODICAL

Interest in cutting, sawing and filing articles in preparation for further processing

Reading Interest Codes
A Quick Guide

The interest code helps you figure out if you’d like to work in a particular occupation. 
It’s based on the Canadian Work Preference Inventory (CWPI), which measures 5 occupational interests: Directive, Innovative, Methodical, Objective and Social.

Each set of 3 interest codes is listed in order of importance.

A code in capital letters means it’s a strong fit for the occupation.

A code in all lowercase letters means the fit is weaker.

Learn More

Duties
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Duties vary from one position to another in this occupation but, in general, gemmologists:

  • identify different types of gemstones (for example, diamond, emerald, jade, ruby, topaz) and their synthetic counterparts
  • differentiate between natural gems and stones that have been treated to enhance their colour or clarity or to stabilize them 
  • grade gemstones and pearls.

To identify gems, gemmologists may:

  • examine surface and internal characteristics under magnification using a loupe or microscope
  • use equipment such as a polariscope, dichroscope or polarising filter to detect optical characteristics  
  • measure refractive indices and, in some cases, interpret optical character and optic sign
  • analyze absorption and fluorescent spectra
  • measure specific gravity (for example, by using hydrostatic or heavy liquid immersion techniques or by using calibrated measuring tools and calculating the weight of mounted stones)
  • use other sophisticated testing procedures to identify synthetic and treated gem materials.

Depending on where they work, gemmologists may have a variety of additional responsibilities. For related information, see the Jeweller occupational profile.

Working Conditions
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Gemmologists may work full time, part time, or on a contract or freelance basis. Travel often is required for those involved in selling wholesale gems or jewellery to retailers.

  • Strength Required Lift up to 5 kg
Skills & Abilities
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Gemmologists need the following characteristics:

  • honesty and integrity
  • good colour vision
  • manual dexterity
  • good communication skills
  • able to pay close attention to details
  • interested in geology, physics and chemistry
  • able to work independently or as part of a team
  • able to meet deadlines.

Gemmologists should enjoy using tools and instruments to perform tasks requiring precision, analyzing information to appraise gemstones, and having clear guidelines and organized methods for their work.

Educational Requirements
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Training in gemmology generally involves a combination of formal instruction and experience. Employers prefer to hire gemmologists who have at least Grade 12 education and a diploma or other accreditation in gemmology. Computer skills and courses in geology, chemistry and physics are definite assets.

Prospective students are advised to discuss their career plans with practising gemmologists before choosing a training route. Training programs are offered in a variety of formats (full-time classroom instruction, seminars and distance education) by sources such as the following:

For current information about programs, admission requirements and mature student admission policies, please check post-secondary calendars or websites.

Ongoing professional development is required for gemmologists to keep their skills and knowledge up to date.

For a broad list of programs and courses that may be related to this occupation try searching using keywords.

Employment & Advancement
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Most gemmologists are self-employed. They may work for:

  • retail jewellers
  • appraisal laboratories
  • wholesalers of diamonds and coloured gems
  • jewellery manufacturers
  • auction houses, pawnbrokers and other buyers and sellers of estate jewellery.

Becoming an independent gem dealer requires a large financial investment. With experience and additional training, gemmologists may become appraisers who apply their knowledge of the market value of gemstones to estimate their worth.

Gemmologists are part of the larger 2011 National Occupational Classification 6344: Jewellers, Jewellery and Watch Repairers, and Related Occupations. In Alberta, 91% of people employed in this classification work in the following industries:

The employment outlook in this occupation will be influenced by a wide variety of factors including:

  • trends and events affecting overall employment (especially in the industries listed above)
  • location in Alberta
  • employment turnover (work opportunities generated by people leaving existing positions)
  • occupational growth (work opportunities resulting from the creation of new positions that never existed before)
  • size of the occupation.

Employment turnover is expected to increase as members of the baby boom generation retire over the next few years.

Wage & Salary
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Gemmologists' earnings vary depending on the scope of their responsibilities, location, the method of payment and the gemmologist's qualifications.

Related High School Subjects
  • Science
  • Trades, Manufacturing and Transportation
    • Fabrication
Related Post-Secondary Field of Study
  • Business, Management and Administrative Studies
  • Personal and Food Services
Other Sources of Information
Updated Oct 21, 2014

Canadian Jewellers Association website: www.canadianjewellers.com

Gemological Institute of America website: www.gia.edu

For more information on career planning, education and jobs, visit the Alberta Learning Information Service (ALIS) website, call the Alberta Career Information Hotline toll-free at 1-800-661-3753 or 780-422-4266 in Edmonton, or visit an Alberta Works Centre near you.

Updated May 01, 2009. The information contained in this profile is current as of the dates shown. Salary, employment outlook and educational program information may change without notice. It is advised that you confirm this information before making any career decisions.

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