Gemmology is the science of analyzing natural and synthetic gemstone material, from coloured stones to diamonds to organic material like pearls, amber and opals. A gemmologist is a person that is academically trained and qualified to identify and evaluate gems using specialized scientific equipment such as microscopes, refractometers, dichroscopes, spectrometers and more.
In a nutshell, all this really means is that a gemmologist is the right person to talk to if you want an educated opinion on the identity and value of the red stone in the antique ring your great aunt gave you.
There are not very many gemmologists around. Maybe the fact that you must get 100% on your final exam scares some away. But there really is no room for error in this line of work so it makes sense that the criteria be so high.
Being a gemmologist resembles detective work when it comes to identifying gemstones. Even a small chip on a stone gives clues to its identity. Step by step, a stone is analyzed and put through a series of scientific tests and careful microscopic observation in order to be successfully identified.
The world of gemstones is continuously changing with new methods of creating synthetics stones and enhancing natural ones. Lucky for me, the school I attended, the Gemological Institute of America (better known as GIA) offers a continuous education program that keeps me updated not only on new treatments but also on new gemstone discoveries as well as how different countries instill new laws and practices for good sustainable mining practices.
There is more to a gemstone than the pretty trail of sparkles it leaves behind with every movement of the hand and I love nothing more than to chat about their particular characteristics; how old they are, how they were formed in the earth, where they come from.