My goal, for the last three years, has been to become a graduate gemologist. I was the kid who had the rock collection and walked the beach looking for Petoskey stones. I am the adult who loves gemstones and jewelry. After years of teaching mathematics (another love of mine), the time seemed right to give gemology a chance. It’s been a wonderful and, at times, difficult journey. Gemology is not an easy science.
Gemology (or Gemmology) is the science dealing with natural and artificial gems and gemstones. It is classified as a geoscience, a branch of mineralogy. A gemologist studies the formation, localities, and physical properties of gemstones. He/she must be able to assess gemstones, using equipment and techniques to identify and evaluate the gem material.
I’m taking my classes through G.I.A. (Gemological Institute of America), which is based in Carlsbad, California. But there are plenty of places that offer gemology education. Some of the more well known schools are the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (GemA), the Canadian Institute of Gemmology (CGA), the Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences, and the Deutsche Gemmologische Gesellschaft (DGemG) in Idar-Oberstein, Germany. I don’t know a lot about the other schools, but I have been impressed with the education I’ve received at G.I.A.
A graduate gemologist diploma from G.I.A. means successful completion of three lab classes that teach you how to use the equipment and master the techniques needed to assess and identify diamonds and colored stones. There are also four reading courses that go over the history, localities, formation, crystal structures, and chemical/physical properties of diamonds and colored gemstones. Finally, there is a comprehensive gem identification course which requires both reading and lab work. During the course you are required to identify 500 gemstones. The course is designed to prepare you for a 20-stone exam which can be passed only if all 20 stones are correctly identified. You get five tries at the six-hour exam. If you don’t pass, there is an opportunity to do remedial work and try again.
Gemologists work in jewelry stores, wholesale gemstone companies, auction houses, insurance companies, and appraisal firms. If a gemologist wants to become an independent appraiser, additional education is needed. And all gemologists need to keep their skills updated by taking courses and being active members in organizations such as the American Gem Society. It’s a scientific job that often requires good people skills. So, tip your hat to those gemologists! They have worked hard to gain their title.
Is it hard to believe that something as common as sand or dust is made of, basically, the same ingredients as the most beautiful amethyst? Silica and oxygen are two of the most common elements on Earth, and they are the two needed to form quartz, a group of minerals which contains, among other gemstones, amethyst. What a gift that, sometimes, the simplest and most common ingredients make an awe-inspiring product.
The “Quartz Family” is a wide-ranging group. Amethyst is part of the large or single crystal strand of this group, along with citrine, smoky quartz, rock quartz (colorless quartz), and prasiolite (green quartz). These are the quartz gemstones that are likely to be faceted in order to refract light. They are more transparent, being cut from a single crystal. There are two main reasons why these gemstones are different hues. Trace elements such as iron can mingle with the silica and oxygen to influence the color. Heat and/or irradiation acting on the mineral can also change its color. Citrine, for example, is generally made by heat-treating pale amethyst.
Another branch of the quartz group is the microcrystalline strand. Gemstones like tiger’s eye and aventurine are aggregates of many, many small quartz crystals. These gemstones are generally translucent or opaque and are rarely faceted. You might see them carved into cabochons or made into beads. Colorless quartzite is an aggregate that is often dyed in various colors, sometimes to mimic other gemstones like jade.
Gemstones with cryptocrystalline structure have crystals too small to be seen without a powerful microscope. Chalcedony, agate, and chrysoprase fall into this strand. Chalcedony comes in various colors, both naturally and with man’s help. Chrome chalcedony is naturally green due to a trace element of chromium. But black onyx is actually chalcedony that has been dyed black. Chrysoprase, one of the most valuable gemstones in the quartz group, is a translucent apple-green due to the presence of nickel. These gemstones are sometimes faceted but usually are made into cabochons, beads or other carvings. Agate, a multi-colored banded gemstone, can be used to carve cameos.
Quartz comes from almost every corner of the globe. South America, North America, Australia, Africa, Asia, and even Europe all have deposits of quartz. Because it’s so plentiful, even in large pieces, quartz is generally affordable. We often think that the more expensive something is, the more beautiful it must be. But that’s just not true in the case of quartz!
I had an excellent experience buying an engagement ring from Dearborn Jewelers. Matt was wonderful to work with and offered great suggestions and advice on how to maximize what I could get while staying in-budget. I would highly recommend Dearborn Jewelers and plan to return myself for any future jewelry needs.
Fantastic and flexible support. They helped in the process to pick engagement/wedding rings and made sure to expedite the process to accommodate a last minute travel trip to get engaged. Will use them again in the future.
These guys were awesome from start to finish. No sales pressure. They answered all my questions and never tried to push my budget. Very impressed with the ring they made up for me. I'd recommend them to anyone.
My grandfather bought my grandmas ring from Dearborn Jewelers many years ago. When she passed it was given to me. I've never taken the ring anywhere else and trust it to no one else. As my wedding approached they reset her diamond into a custom engagement setting and created a wedding band to match. They look like they were made for each other! Recently my husband was looking for wedding day earrings and Matt found the perfect pair to match the limited information I gave them ;) Even now, having moved to California, when I'm home to visit family I bring my ring in for a check and cleaning-it will never go anywhere else!!
The best jewelry store!! After having a horrible experience with Kay Jewelers that was prolonged for many years. I purchased a new ring and needed it to be sized. I was nervous to take my new ring to a different jeweler, but I read all the great reviews and decided to give it a shot. I am glad I did because I am very pleased with their professionalism and their great work! They understood my situation and worked with me accordingly. They sped up the process to satisfy my anxiousness. The owner along with jeweler thoroughly examined my ring and explained to me in detail how I can self identify my stones. Thank you for a great experience! I would recommend.
Excellent service, excellent work. I've brought our engagement and wedding rings here multiple times for sizing, finishing, and when I lost one of the small stones in the shank. The jeweler has always done excellent work at very reasonable prices! We haven't had the chance to purchase from here yet, but Dearborn is now my go-to for jewelry needs!
For our 30th wedding anniversary, I had a custom ring made by the talented team at Dearborn Jewelers. It turned out beautifully. I highly recommend Dearborn Jewelers if you are looking for a trustworthy, highly skilled, creative, fair and dependable jeweler. Top Notch!
I recently had a bracket on my watch repaired. Not only was service fast and inexpensive ($10) but they went above and beyond. I picked up a repaired watch that was sparkling clean. They also made a small repair to the watch (that hadn't bothered me enough to have fixed) and set the date (which I had never understood how to set) all without me even requesting it.
I appreciate businesses that do the extra things and provide quality services so I wanted to review Dearborn Jewelers since I am very impressed with how they do business.
I cannot say enough good things about Dearborn Jewelers of Plymouth. The staff is extremely knowledgable about all their products and is not pushy at all. I frequently go here to look at engagement rings and they are always more than willing to let you try them on and explain the different styles/cuts, etc.
They are amazing at custom jewelry as well. If you have a bracelet that's too big, they can take the extra gems/stones/jewels and turn it into a necklace or earrings. My sister had my grandma's tennis bracelet made smaller and turned into a pendant necklace and set of stud earrings.
My boyfriend had a necklace made for me from a bracelet about a year ago. The chain he picked was a bit short for my liking, so I didn't wear the necklace as much as I would like. However, I went to get a longer chain yesterday and they were so kind they exchanged the previously purchased necklace for a longer one at no charge.
Their customer service is absolutely outstanding. Again, I'd HIGHLY recommend Dearborn Jewelers to anyone in the area looking for jewelry.