Out of over 3,000 different minerals, only about 50 are commonly
fashioned into gemstones. Some of the more commonly used minerals
include diamonds, sapphires, rubies, emeralds, and turquoise. Most
gems, including diamonds, are fashioned by a process known as faceting,
which involves cutting the surface of the mineral into a number of flat
faces. The size, number, and angles of the facets on a gemstone are
mathematically calculated to maximize light dispersion, and different
faceting techniques are used to create different gemstone cuts.
Other gems, such as turquoise, are fashioned by polishing, carving, or
Gemology is the study of gemstones. While
jewelers and precious stone workers cut, set, and polish these
gemstones, gemologists are responsible for analyzing, describing, and
certifying them. Gemologists use microscopes, computerized tools,
and other grading instruments to examine the individual stones or
finished jewelry pieces and create
detailed reports certifying the quality of the gemstones.
Gemologists can receive credentialing through various institutes offering
programs in gemology and work in a variety of settings. Many
gemologists work for retailers, importers, manufacturers, or gemological
laboratories. They must be extremely knowledgeable about the
properties of the gemstones they certify. Many gemologists also
become jewelry appraisers because the two careers are so closely linked.
Gemstones are minerals which are relatively rare, durable, and have been
fashioned to be beautiful. Gemstones of all kinds have been used in
jewelry as personal adornment for thousands of years, and continue to be
in demand, ensuring a favorable employment outlook for the highly trained
gemologists who study them. For more information about the field of
gemology, visit the Gemological Institute
of America website.
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