Help needed with practical gemology

Hi everyone,
I’ve recently developed a keen interest in gemology, prompting me to enroll in the Professional Gemologist Certification course at IGS to satisfy my curiosity. However, I’m encountering some challenges, particularly with the practical aspect, especially in gem testing using instrumentation. I’ve already acquired all the necessary equipment for the course, but I could benefit from some hands-on guidance, as the course lacks specific SOPs. Is there any professional gemologist in the DC DMV area who would be open to allowing me to shadow them as they conduct their own tests with this equipment?

Hi Fatma,

Welcome to the community!

While you are waiting for someone in the IGS community to respond with better insight to your local area, might I ask, if you have communicated with any of the local gemological / rockhound clubs in your area? They are one of the best resources to follow-up with.

You could also inquire with some of the local jewelry stores, to speak to a Staff Gemologist if one is available. Not all will be able to assist, especially if they are swamped with work, but I am sure there will be someone willing to help or connect you with a Gemologist who can.

This will also give you the opportunity to network within the local jewelry vendors. Just seeing you with a keen interest in gemology, puts a good mark towards future work opportunities. :slight_smile:



Hi Fatma, while you’re searching for a gemologist in your area, may I suggest you check out Gem-A’s You Tube channel. You’ll find step by step instructional videos on how to use all the gem ID tools.

The Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A)

This book, although pricey, is well worth the money.

Practical Gemmology Handbook by Gem-A

Good luck

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Great suggestions. Many thanks

Great resources. Thanks

Hi Fatma,
I couldn’t quite figure out DC DMV area and Google wasn’t much help outside of suggesting that you are near/in our nation’s capitol…I am in East Tennessee, but am in touch with fellow gemologists and faceters in the USA and London, Kenya and Tanzania. One of my contacts also goes to Sri Lanka. Altho’ there’s sometimes some difficulty in communicating, I don’t think it would be that hard for someone to give you a video call on Facebook or Skype to help you figure out the refractometer, etc. It just is not that difficult with some guidance…so, in person is great, but thru emails or audio calls or video, I’m sure you can get what you need. I am working with a couple of people in Kenya who speak English, but whose first language is Swahili and that is working out OK, so I’m sure you can find what you need with a little patience. Feel free to call on me, I am available to help if needed.

have you considered taking the GIA certification course? i’ts intensive, but and does have classes in instrumention and hands on learning. The hands on learning happens at their main campuses whcih are few and far between, There’s one in NYC. Unless the GIA has set up satellite campuses, hands on learning of instrumentation is going to be more difficult than the online learning part of their program.
Look up the GIA website.

Thats where I’ve personally found youll have the best chance.

The difference in tuition between GIA and IGS is around $25,000. Back when I was in school, (Carlsbad campus) there weren’t many programs to choose from and Gemologists were few and far between. No longer. I think the IGS program is perfect for students who are willing to put in the extra time and research to get though their studies without all the bells and whistles. You have gemologists online now who are on You Tube, Facebook, etc and will offer free help on your journey. If I could do it over again, I would take the IGS route and invest the money I saved in tuition on the best tools for my business and a superb jewelry appraisal program… Robert James founder of ISG school is very active in FB gemology groups as well as gemologists/authors Renee Newman and Antoinette Matlins
You can also join the Gemology Project and there are Gemologists, appraisers and students who would be more than willing to assist you in your studies.

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Dear Royjohn,
Thanks so much for your reply and my apologies for not specifying what DC/ DMV stand for. You are indeed correct - DC is for Washington DC, and DMV area stands for DC, Maryland, Virginia area. Troy suggested I go to local jewelry stores to see if they’d be able to assist.
But your suggestion to connect me with your contacts abroad might work too since I move a lot for work (I work in international development). This is very much appreciated. I will reach out to you separately about my future relocations.

Thanks, Steven, for the suggestion. I agree with JCBellGG that the GIA certification course is too expensive, especially since I’ve taken up gemology as a hobby.

Yes I agree. Once considered it while I was working… the price was okay back then but has gone up far too much… Still one of the gold standards though, but it’s beyond reach of a hobbist, as jewerlry fabrication and gemstones were for me… Being retired gives me the time but I’d rather spend my money on other things. So far as gemstone testing is concerned., you can start with the basics that do not require specialized equipment. Specific gravity for instance can be done at home using a senstive and accurate balance. Moh’s hardness test kits are widely available. However, with a cut stone, you wouldn’t want to scratch it…good for rough. other instruments than can be bought at a reasonable price includes a refractrometer and a binocular microscope. Gem testers depend of thermal conductivity, they are more of a screening tool than being definitive…
Roy John just uses a loupe, he is a professional…there’s a pile of references with photomicrographs showing different kinds of inclusions in different kinds of gems. Some are characteristic and most distinguish natural from synthetic and what process was used to grow a synthetic. You might start with your local jeweler at a brick and mortar store. Stores that make their own jewerly for sale have experts. An appraiser might be willing to teach you something, although most are not particularly helpful. On line resources are the easiest way to learn stuff. The area in which you live should have a lot of resources to tap into… good luck and best wishes.

Check out the Washington DC area GIA Alumni Association Chapter

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