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Gemologists add sparkle to retail jewellery




By Suneeta Kaul

The colour gemstone sector of India is on the cusp of exciting opportunities, but it also faces significant challenges, especially in view of the impact of the ongoing pandemic. With a new year around the corner, the industry is taking stock of what lies ahead, and figuring out how to deal with disruption, and how to attract fresh talent in an increasingly competitive workspace.

Retail jewellers and in-house gemologists

And if there is one position that is likely to be in high demand, it is that of a gemologist. “India is the centre for colour gemstone trading, as well as gemstone cutting and polishing. We are the largest exporters of colour gemstones in the world. All gemstones need certification to highlight their provenance and showcase their authenticity. As such, all retailers are advised to avail of the services of a qualified gemologist, who has trained professionally at an accredited institution in coloured stone identification and grading,” says Mohamed Fazal Ur Rahman Abdul Hadi, a reputed gemologist who has worked with big international jewellery companies, such as Damas Jewellery and GS Gem Scan Laboratory.

While gemology has been practiced in India for centuries, with gemologists having been valued members of most royal courts, the profession has not really received the kind of attention it deserves, especially considering the long-standing love affair of Indians with colourful jewellery.


“Gemology is considered to be one of the oldest professions of India, with the job entailing studying and authenticating the structure and purity of gemstones, identifying their origin and finding ways to prevent damage to them. A gemologist studies the quality, characteristics and value of both precious and semi-precious colour gemstones, such as emeralds, diamonds, sapphires and rubies. In view of the fact that India and has top-class infrastructure for diamond cutting and polishing, gemology is emerging as a lucrative and satisfying career. A gemologist can either work full-time with jewellery houses, or can strike out as a freelancer and a consultant,” adds Fazal, as he is popularly known.

Providing more details about the field, he says the training also includes diamond grading. “The field is vast. A gemologist may work in gemological laboratories, or in retail jewelry stores, or manufacturing organizations, or auction houses. The expertise of gemologists can be utilized in a number of fields, including appraising, purchasing, quality control and design. Well-trained and experienced gemologists can take measurements to the 1/100th of a millimeter and verify the carat weight. They can discern differences in minerals, detect flaws, identify rare specimens, and can determine if a colour gemstone is natural, or synthetic, or whether it has been subjected to treatment, and can even figure out the country of origin of a colour stone,” informs Fazal.

Adding value beyond appraisal

While most large retail jewellery chains recognize the importance of having in-house gemologists, many independent stores and small and mid-level retail jewellers are yet to fully grasp the value that hiring a gemologist can bring to their brand. “Gemologists not only identify and appraise colour gemstones, they can also advise jewellery companies regarding design of the jewellery, compatibility of gems with one another, and with precious metals as well. Knowledge about colour stones has increased among customers, and they have many questions regarding precious gemstones. Having a qualified gemologist handy goes a long way in assuring customers of quality, purity and ethical sourcing, from mine to market to consumer. The demand for gemologists is, thus, increasing, and youngsters can take it up as a lucrative career,” Fazal says.

There are several institutions offering certificate, bachelor, master and specialized courses in gemology. Gemological Institute of America (GIA), considered the world’s foremost authority in gemology, which has been operating in India since 2004, offers programmes and courses in diamonds and colour gemstones, and also jewellery design. Other notable institutions include Indian Institute of Gemology, New Delhi,  SRDC Diamond Institute, Mumbai, and so forth.

Going by the increasing demand for colour gemstones in India it does seem to be a worthwhile idea for retail jewellers to hire in-house gemologists, and not just depend on laboratories and consultants.


Courtesy: Retail Jeweller India News Service

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