How to Become a Gemologist
Gemologist Careers & Degrees

Gemologists are professionals who use their expertise and understanding in the study and science of gems.

Individuals in this profession are extremely detail oriented and have a good eye for identifying a variety of gems and stones.

They are well versed in the intricate details of gems and stones and are able to determine characteristics not visible to the human eye.

Gemologists see beyond the initial appearance that we normally see and analyze and observe intricate, tiny details to help determine the true value of a precious stone.

Individuals who want to become a Gemologist will have a natural interest in gems, stones and jewelry and may also have extraordinary attention to detail as some fine gems and stones will have tiny differences that an average person won’t be able to tell apart.

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Education Requirements to Become a Gemologist

Individuals who want to become a Gemologist have two paths to enter this profession.

Although becoming a less used path, individuals can find an opportunity to gain experience in this trade through on the job training.

The second path, which is growing in popularity, is attending a trade school to learn Gemology skills.

For on the job training, individuals will seek an entry level position, most likely, at a jewelry store.

Under the close watch of an experienced jeweler, individuals who want to become a Gemologist will learn the basic skills in order to determine the cut, quality and value of a precious stone or gem.

Under these circumstances, it is typical for an individual to work for a retail jewelry store where they will also perform routine customer service tasks.

Individuals seeking to become a Gemologist can also attend a trade school to become well versed in Gemology.

Although some programs are offered online, it will be advantageous to seek a degree in a traditional school setting since online schools may take away from the hands on experience that older Gemologists had to learn their trade.

Gemology programs typically last under a year and guide the student through the essential information needed to succeed in this profession.

Typical classes include information on the different types of gems, valuation methods, gem grading and jewelry making.

Graduates from this type of program may open other doors for themselves and can apply for similar positions such as: Appraisers, Gemstone Graders or as a salesperson at a retail jewelry store.

Gemologist Job Description

Gemologists are experienced professionals who have been trained in the art of gems and stones.

Using their attention to detail, they analyze and observe stones to determine the quality and retail value of them, as well as give an appraisal price.

This profession can expect to work nontraditional hours such as nights and weekends.

Some self-employed Gemologists get to create their own schedules to be able to showcase their inventory at trade or craft shows.

As for retail employees, they may also work nights, weekends and holidays when the majority of consumers are available.

For the most part, retail employees may also work part time and have the opportunity to earn commission which reflects the inventory they individually sell.

Gemologist Salary and Career Path

Jewelers, Precious Stone and Metal workers, which includes Gemologist professionals, can expect to earn a median wage of $35,350 per year.

Exact wages will heavily depend on experience with the lowest earning wages at approximately $19,600 per year and the highest earners taking home approximately $61,940 per year.

Job projections for Jewelers, Precious Stone and Metal workers are expected to decline by 10 percent through the year 2022.

This decline is related to the outsourcing of manufacturing jobs outside of the U.S.

This decline in job openings will create more competition for available jobs.

However, this competition will mainly impact entry level Gemologists.

Individuals who pursue higher education through trade schools or who have many years of experience should expect less competition for jobs.

Individuals who are detail oriented and have a passion for working with small stones and gems will find it advantageous to seek a profession as a Gemologist.

These professionals are heavily trained and well versed in gems and use this skill in order to determine the true value of a stone.

This skill is important for consumers who seek value when purchasing precious stones and gems.

The below information is based on the 2019 BLS national averages.
  • Annually
  • Monthly
  • Hourly

National Average Salary

$45,950
$24K
$30K
$45K
$55K
$73K
10%
25%
50%
75%
90%

Average Salary by State

StateAvg. Annual Salary
Alabama$46,790
Alaska$37,020
Arizona$47,630
Arkansas$39,840
California$43,770
Colorado$39,810
Connecticut$52,300
Florida$44,670
Georgia$34,240
Hawaii$34,790
Idaho$40,300
Illinois$36,370
Indiana$41,970
Iowa$46,680
Kansas$45,850
Kentucky$56,480
Louisiana$42,930
Maine$43,720
Maryland$53,640
Massachusetts$40,800
Michigan$47,430
Minnesota$40,140
Mississippi$29,030
Missouri$44,520
Montana$37,040
Nebraska$41,810
Nevada$50,330
New Hampshire$44,170
New Jersey$50,070
New Mexico$34,090
New York$55,370
North Carolina$39,680
North Dakota$69,710
Ohio$37,590
Oklahoma$42,620
Oregon- NA -
Pennsylvania$54,120
Rhode Island$38,460
South Carolina$43,250
South Dakota$39,230
Tennessee$42,610
Texas$42,110
Utah$39,440
Vermont$45,030
Virginia$53,910
Washington$42,100
West Virginia$41,710
Wisconsin$52,110
Wyoming$57,750

The top earning state in the field is North Dakota, where the average salary is $69,710.

These are the top 5 earning states in the field:

North Dakota - $69,710
Wyoming - $57,750
Kentucky - $56,480
New York - $55,370
Pennsylvania - $54,120
* Salary information based on the May 2019 Occupational Employment Statistics (OES) Survey for Jewelers and Precious Stone and Metal Workers, OCC Code 51-9071, BLS.
* Employment conditions in your area may vary.

Frequently Asked Questions

QuestionWhat does a gemologist do?

Gemologists are specialists who identify, appraise, and grade gemstones.

A gemologist uses different tools to evaluate the shape, size, and color of the stones.

Such specialists can work in a wide range of spheres; a gemologist can become a lab researcher and grader, a jewelry designer, a diamond and gemstone buyer and merchandiser, a museum or auction house specialist, a jewelry photographer, an educator, and so on.

The typical duties of a gemologist usually include examining gemstones or finished pieces of jewelry; certifying their quality; establishing the origins of a gemstone; describing the qualities and characteristics; certifying and categorizing the gemstone, etc.

A gemologist can choose to specialize in a specific type of gemstone (sapphires, rubies, diamonds…).

QuestionHow much do gemologists make?

On average, a gemologist can make a little more than $50.000 per year in the United States.

In case you decide to follow this career path, you can expect to earn anywhere between $30.000 and $96.000 annually.

The salary would certainly depend on a variety of factors – your education and experience level, the employer, the location and so on.

The gemologists that work in California and New York, for example, have the highest average salaries.

An entry-level gemologist can earn $12 per hour, while a specialist with plenty of experience will make $25 and more.

QuestionHow much does it cost to become a gemologist?

There are no strict educational requirements to become a gemologist.

However, in most cases, a high school diploma is a must.

You can choose to attend gemology courses; there are plenty of options available both online and offline.

The cost to attend the Gemological Institute of America, for example, ranges from $300 to $30.000.

Once you hold a relevant degree, you can become an American Gem Society Certified Gemologist Appraiser.

QuestionWhat is the demand for gemologists?

Between 2016 and 2026, the gemologist job market is expected to shrink by 3%, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

That certainly is slower than the national average for all occupations in the United States.

Job opportunities will be best for those candidates who possess a diploma or certificate.

The specialists that work in repair shops or jewelry stores can become managers, while those in manufacturing can advance to supervisory jobs.

A large part of the tasks performed by gemologists can be handled by computers nowadays.

QuestionHow long does it take to become a gemologist?

There is a wide range of programs and courses for an aspiring gemologist to choose from; you have the opportunity to pick a suitable price and the desired course length.

However, the majority of those last for around 6-12 months.

On-the-job training is incredibly important; candidates with prior experience will have better job perspectives in the eyes of the employer.

To become an American Gem Society Certified Gemologist Appraiser you would need to have a degree from an accredited school and at least two years of practice, in case you are representing a firm.

You would have to gain an AGS membership and then apply for certification; the process includes completing a few courses and passing an exam.

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