GIA GRADUATE GEMOLOGIST

GIA GRADUATE GEMOLOGIST

Sounds kind of official like geologist or psychologist, one of those official designations that are cast about nowadays. What does it stand for? Is it a license? Well I’m here to tell you that I am in fact a Graduate Gemologist (G.G.). To get this designation is no easy task. I also got the designation “In Residence” which means what it says, I went to school at the school when it was in Santa Monica, CA. in 1978. Not by correspondence, through the mail. We didn’t have the internet yet, how on earth did we manage? So if you love stones and want to be a Gemologist take heed.

DIAMONDS

When I decided to go to GIA (The Gemological Institute of America) a very good friend of mine just got a job there as a colored stone instructor. That kind of made my decision easier. This school is world famous and is the ultimate in diamonds and colored stone grading and identification. I didn’t occur to me that they might not accept a walk-in even if I did have the cash up front. So I did what I always did, I just jumped on my Ducati 900 GTS motorcycle and drove down there from San Francisco where I was living. I figured they would find a space for me. The very next day after I arrived was the orientation for the classes. The school impressed me when I first saw the inside & since I was not really aware of its existence until a week before, all the better. But there I was and ready to rock. After much dithering and explanations about how hard it is to get in a new class on short notice they said I could stay since two registered students from China had not shown up yet. But I would have to understand that if they showed in the next two days I would have to make room for them. I agreed and the rest is history as they say.

 

The classes were from 9 AM to 4:30 PM five days a week Monday thru Friday. There were no excused absences. The term was for 6 months with a two week vacation between Diamonds and colored Stones.  Tuition had to paid in the first week of $4,800.00 US and you had to find your own place to live. They provided some assistance but not for late comers. At that time in 1978 a studio apartment in Santa Monica down by the ocean was around $400-$500 a month, I got one right on Ocean Beach Dr. about two blocks from the Santa Monica Pier. Everything was coming together.

The Diamond Course consisted of, a 4 hour lecture in the morning and a 4 hour lab in the afternoon. A quiz every day and a test every Monday a midterm and a final and a 20 stone diamond grading final with only a pass or a fail grade. To get your diamond certificate you had to score 100% on grading and above 80% for the written exam. Anything more than ½ grade difference on the grading of diamonds was an automatic fail. In other words if you graded a VS1 and the grade was a VS2 on the master then you failed. If the stone master grade was an H color then the worst you could do is grade it an H-I or a G-H and still pass.


In all the time I was in the diamonds course I graded every diamond they had in the safe and got them all correct. They expected at best that the students would do around 400 stones in the 8 weeks, I did over 1,500 . They were impressed and so was I. It just came natural to me. We had 4 hours to do the final grading for the 20 stone test and you had to have completed at least 100 diamond grading reports to pass. I aced all the quizzes, tests, midterm and finals including the grading as well as doing 1500+ diamond grading reports, I got 100% on all of them.


COLORED STONES

RUBY
RUBY

COLOR

Then a two week break and start colored stones for 16 weeks plus Pearls, Appraising and every thing left in those last few weeks. Colored stone final was 100% or fail on a 30 stone Identification report. Plus a written exam and you had to do at minimum 400 stone I.D.’s. to get the colored stone certificate and an additional written exam for the Graduate Gemologist Certificate. The G.G. test was also a 100% or fail written test, we got 6 hours to do it.

I identified every stone they had in the safes 100% and that was at about week 6 so they put me on doing new stone sets for the future students and the home study folks. I did it all and passed with a 92% average on all the written tests and passed all the stone tests 100% and the G.G. test 100%. They did offer me a job after graduating but I thanked them and thought I’d try it on my own for a while.

GIA, like all schools, can train you to a limited extent but the real learning is out in the world. When it’s your money and reputation on the line things look a lot different. A guess that’s wrong can cost you a lot of money and even your job. I did it because I LOVE GEMSTONES, certainly not for money because I’m poor as a church mouse. Not that I want to be but that’s how things worked out. I don’t regret (almost) everything I’ve done and hope to continue on as long as I can. That’s why I live in Thailand. Come by and see my world.

Peter Lumetta, G.G.

P.S.

I met my first wife Dana in that class and my best friend Carl from Alaska. We all ended up in Alaska a couple years later mining gold in the Yukon river drainage. But that’s another story


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Comments 13 comments

CMHypno profile image

CMHypno 5 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

What a cool job! You are so lucky to work with gemstones and you got to live by the beach while you were training!


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA Author

It's fun. It look like you have quite an interest in gems also. I've seen your Hubs. Thanks for the input.

Peter


RAJAT 5 years ago

I'm planning to do A GG course from GIA. i just have to ask whether i should work somewhere in the gemstone industry as a trainee or should i go there as a rookie.


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA Author

Hi Rajat, good for you! It really doesn't matter but I would think if you have the GIA under your belt you night be able to make a better salary. So GIA first then work in the business. In any case do it as soon as you can, don't waste time. If you can go to GIA first you won't pick up any bad habits from the jewelry business, Thanks for coming by and let me know how things work out,

Peter


Steffie 5 years ago

Hi Peter, what a great story. I'm from Holland and interested in the GG course for a while. I was just wondering, because i'm now studying art history, if it's realistic to think that if i would finish the two courses that i could combine them in some sort of historical juwel something job.. (haha not so sure what it is myself) Maybe you know somebody who did the same?

Thanks !


PETER LUMETTA profile image

PETER LUMETTA 5 years ago from KENAI, ALAKSA Author

Hi Steffie,

I think Art History and Gemology are very compatible. Jewelry throughout history plays a very significant role In design and fashion as well as paintings and design of jelwery for the many monarchs and princesses that are famous. In modern day appraising and in the international auction houses there is a need for knowledgeable historians and many for the older pieces. So I think your combination would work well together. Thanks and Good Luck,

Peter


Tommy Morgan 3 years ago

Hello Peter,

I am working in Afghaistan and have bought some stones from here. Where can I have them tested and how much should I expect to pay for the service?

Thanks!

Tom


plumetta 3 years ago

Hi Tom,

Don't buy anymore! Most of the stones I have seen from Afghanistan have been syntheyics and worthless. Unless you are a gem dealer or gemologist they are preying on suckers who don't know what they are doing. Send the stones to GIA lab in Bangkok for testing. It runs about $100 or so but it is the definitive answer. Good Locl,

Peter


Helen 3 years ago

Hi Peter,

I am currently working full time as financial analyst. I have being thinking about doing GG, since I have always have a passion for gemstone and jewelry (especially vintage pieces). I am trying to justify if it is worth the $20K+ (current tuition) cost for a hobby or if I can actually make a career out of it. I live in Brooklyn, NY, according to my research, best paid gemologist is in NY, Greenwich-Stamford, CT region. What is the demand for gemologist and how easy is it to find job as a fresh GG? I can't seem to find too many job listing for gemologist. Thank you.

ps. see link http://gemologistsalary.com/

Helen


plumetta 3 years ago

Hi Helen,

A 29K investment might be hard to justify. Most folks are already in the business and are a relative of an owner of a jewelry store or diamond company. Also you could do what I did and be an international gem/diamond dealer. You can make a lot and lose a lot of money, like me. Business is business and if you do it right it can be very profitable but be prepared to lose a lot of money. You will invest way more than 20K if you are an independent. You could always just get a job with your GG and work for someone but you won't get rich.

Peter


Weldon Jewellers profile image

Weldon Jewellers 3 years ago from Ireland

What a cool read. I did my GG almost ten years ago, but so much of your journey sounds familiar. There is still the twenty stone test at the end, still the hundreds of stones to identify, but thanks to the Internet you can do so so much by distance! Great course to have done, anyone who is serious about diamonds needs to have done it.


PETER LUMETTA 3 years ago

Hi We;don,

Thanks for the nice comments. Even though it's been over thirty years I use that knowledge every day.

Peter


John 2 years ago

I have a rare ruby for sale..contact john 917 615 8943

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