The GIA (Gemological Institute of America) is the only recognized institution that offers a graduate gemologist diploma. When I first entered the jewelry industry post college, I knew I needed to go to the GIA in order to feel confident in my career path. I went for the full Graduate Gemologist degree, which included two months of diamond grading and 4 months of colored stone identification. GIA has two United States locations, Carlsbad & New York where you can get this diploma. Since I was already living in Los Angeles, I decided to enroll at Carlsbad, which fortunately is also the GIA world headquarters 🙂
A graduate gemologist is someone who has taken both the diamond grading and colored stone identification courses at the GIA. The diamond portion of the program was my favorite because I knew I wanted to work in the diamond business. During my training at the GIA, we focus on how to grade a diamond. Knowing how to grade a diamond gives you the knowledge to understand and interpret a laboratory certificate. If I can’t explain to you what the certificate is saying, then the certificate is essentially useless to the consumer. Learning about color, clarity, and cut grade were also some of the most valuable things I learned while at the GIA. Understanding the diamond 4 C’s helps me select the right diamond for my customer.
The colored stones portion of my education was a very rewarding experience. Although my professional interests did not lie in the colored gemstone arena, it was really fun to learn about. This course was more focused on identification of gemstones rather than evaluating the quality of each stone (i.e. diamond grading). I also got to see the effects of a lot of treatments as well as synthetic processes often used in colored stones. The final exam is known as the “20 stone,” which is an exam where you have to properly identify 20 randomly selected gemstones including potential synthetic stones and assembled pieces. Even a slight misspelling of a name requires you to take the full exam over again.
Receiving the graduate gemologist diploma was one of my proudest moments and gave me the confidence I needed to work in the jewelry industry. It got me my job here at deBebians (yes!), which has further expanded my diamond and jewelry knowledge. From my experience at deBebians, I know how to compare and evaluate all the available diamonds in the market to provide the best match for my customers. Grading a diamond v. evaluating a diamond against others are two completely different skills! At deBebians, I am able to combine all aspects of my graduate gemologist diploma each and every day that I am here.
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