Correspondence Degree in Gemology: Online Program Overview
Degree programs in gemology are rare, especially those offered completely online. However, online and hybrid gemology certificate and diploma programs are available to help students facilitate career goals.
Certificate and diploma programs in gemology can be found online, offered through professional associations and colleges. Most programs combine online study with in-person coursework, a few programs are totally online. Online programs allow students to view lessons via the Internet and turn in assignments electronically.
These programs require less than a year of study and give graduates a solid foundation in working with gems. They are educated in types of gems, valuation, jewelry making and gem grading. Some certificates are in specialized fields such as pearls or colored stones. Students may need to purchase tools for analyzing gems, such as a spectroscope and a magnifying glass. Gems may be provided by the school.
Graduates with a diploma or certificate in gemology can work as gemstone graders, appraisers or salespeople. Many employers prefer to hire someone who holds certification from a professional gemology or jewelry organization. These certifications can be obtained by passing an examination.
Overview of Gemology Programs
These programs can be taken through specific institutions related to gemology, as well as through colleges and universities. Related program titles include gemology certificate, gemology diploma, colored stone diploma, jewelry professional diploma and diploma in pearls. The diploma or certificate program is primarily designed for students who wish to specialize in a specific type of stone or gem.
The goal of a gemology certificate or diploma program is to gain a comprehensive understanding of the value assessment, condition, history and jewelry marketing skills, as well as grading or the general assessment of a gem. Many graduates work as personal appraisers in retail jewelry sales or for jewelry distribution companies as marketing professionals.
Program Information and Requirements
Gemology programs can be completed in less than one year and some institutions offer individual classes that can be taken at any time. Although rare, students can find gemology programs available entirely online and more often in a hybrid format. Some programs require that the student purchase necessary grading materials, such as a magnifying glass, polarizing filter, spectroscope, gem tweezers, practice gems or a microscope. Some schools provide access to an all-in-one kit that holds all the necessary equipment.
Students must also have access to a computer that has the Internet, as well as an updated Web browser and operating system. Assignments can generally be turned in via fax, email or online. Some programs also provide gems for the students to use during the course.
Overview of Gemology Program Courses
Coursework does not include general education courses. The core curriculum is delivered so students can complete course requirements on their own schedule.
Identification of Gems Course
Students will learn to visually identify a wide variety of gems, as well as develop the skills to determine a gem's authenticity. Assessment is done on practice gems using the grading materials purchased by students.
Colored Stones Course
In this course, students learn about the different varieties of colored stones and often focus specifically on emerald, ruby and sapphire gems. Students gain an understanding the value of the different gems based on color, cut and weight.
Diamond Grading Course
This course focuses on the cut, color and shape of a diamond, as well as the effects these attributes have on value. Acquired skills include sound purchasing and selling decisions, cut analysis and value assessment.
Career Information for Graduates
Gemologists work in gemological labs assessing and grading precious stones for retail and private sales. According the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), 54% of jewelers and precious stone workers, including gemologists, were self-employed in 2011. The BLS also stated that in 2008 there were 52,100 precious stone workers and jewelers in the country, which is expected to increase by five percent between 2008 and 2018. In May of 2008 the average annual income of a precious stone worker was $32,940, reported the BLS.
Although not required to work in gemology, the Jewelers of America offers certification for bench jewelers, managers and sales associates who work in the jewelry industry (www.jewelers.org). The certification exams can be completed off-site and can vary by skills level. The organization also offers e-learning opportunities that provide online training in gemology design and sales.
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