Gemmologist, Jeweller, Appraiser – What is the difference?

When I introduce myself to people as a gemmologist, I am often asked if I have made my earrings.  This is very frustrating because it confirms my suspicions that people don’t know what a gemmologist does!

When you walk into a jewellery store who will you meet?  Will it be a jeweller, a gemmologist or a jewellery appraiser?  What services can each of them provide?  Who do you need?

Jewellery Store

Flickr Photo by Melvin Baker

A gemmologist, a jewellery appraiser and a jeweller do not provide the same services and do not possess the same skills.

It is possible that someone can possess all these skills and be qualified in all three area (just as a dentist might also have their pilot’s licence).

What is the difference?

Jewellers may do some of the following:

Gemstone and Diamond Ring

Flickr Photo by VideoMagus

  • Buy jewellery and gemstones
  • Sell jewellery and gemstone
  • Price jewellery merchandise
  • Design jewellery
  • Make jewellery
  • Repair jewellery
  • Often work in retail shops
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, about 40 % are self-employed owners of jewelry stores and repair shops

Gemmologists may do some of the following:

Red Gem

Flickr Photo by VideoMagus

  • Identify natural gemstones
  • Identify synthetic gemstones
  • Identify imitation gemstones
  • Identify treatments in natural and synthetic gemstones
  • Evaluate the quality of gemstones
  • Work for a jeweller, gemstone laboratory, appraisal firm, auction house, pawn shop or independently

Appraisers may do some of the following:

Diamond Ring

Flickr Photo by VideoMagus

  • Identify and quality grade gemstones (as a gemmologist)
  • Identify age and style of jewellery
  • Quality grade design and craftsmanship of jewellery
  • Identify appropriate market for sales of gems and jewellery
  • Research data for comparable sales
  • Research provenance when applicable
  • Correlate and analyze elements of value
  • Understand the methodology for estimating value
  • Create accurate written reports, justify value claims

You might study to become a jeweller at a college.  You can study to become a gemmologist at colleges and with your national gemmological association.   The national gemmological association will administer professional exams and accept you as a fellow if you meet all their criteria (accreditation).  My blogroll has links to various gemmological associations.  You can study to become an appraiser at a limited number of places, some provide accreditation.

Beware of people who are not qualified!

In Canada you can go to the Canadian Jewellers Association website and search by location to find an accredited appraiser.  Phone your national jewellers association or gemmological association to find a list of accredited appraisers in your area.

An accredited appraiser must be a gemmologist!


Flickr Photo by Roche Photo

A jeweller is not necessarily a gemmologist or an appraiser!

A gemmologist is not an appraiser until they have more education and experience!

Your Input (Join our poll or scroll down and leave a comment)

I plan to introduce different gemstones alphabetically.  I will start with “A” (Ammolite) and see where it leads me.  Leave a comment and let me know if you have a favourite gemstone that starts with the letter “G”.  Take the poll!  Can you name a reference to a gemstone in a song, movie or book?


About Jen McKercher

Jennifer McKercher teaches gemmology at the Canadian Gemmological Association. A passion for gemstones drives Jen to learn as much as she can about the wonders of gemstones and how they enhance our lives.

Posted on August 6, 2011, in Gemmology and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: