Gemology: Sparkling future for gemologists

There is a bright future for professionals in the fast-track gems and jewellery industry which is witnessing double digit annual rates of growth on the domestic and export fronts
From modest beginnings in the sweatshops of Gujarat and Rajasthan, the annual foreign currency revenue of Indias gems and jewellery industry quadrupled from Rs.23,500 crore in 1997 to Rs.94,200 crore in 2005.

And even as Indias textiles and fashion garments industry is booming, the associated gems and jewellery industry has impacted the global marketplace with dazzling designs and a sparkling array of gems. As a result, gemology has emerged as a hot new career option for youth with creative skills, aesthetic sense, and colour sensitivity. Moreover, with gemstones being increasingly associated with sentiments of power, healing, and romance, a global gems and jewellery boom is imminent.

A huge domestic market for gems and precious jewellery is also emerging. India is one of the oldest players in lapidary art. Seventy percent of all gems world over come to India for cutting and polishing. India is also the largest ‘consumer of gold in the world and has excellent infrastructure for diamond-cutting. Industry estimates boast that 95 percent of the worlds cut and polished diamonds, accounting for 60 percent of global output in terms of value, are processed in India. Gemology is the scientific study of gemstones. It involves learning about categorisation, and terminology of gemstones, their physical and optical properties, and how these properties are used to identify gems. Gemologists identify, sort, and grade gems and advise jewellery designers about their compatibility with particular metals and settings. They need to develop extraordinary powers of observation, attention to detail, precision, excellent hand-eye coordination, an objective approach, and great sense of responsibility. They should also be knowledgeable about customs and traditions of people and the latest global trends in fashion jewellery.

The main objective of study programmes in gemology is to train students to use cutting edge technology and learn to sort, grade, polish, value, and identify gemstones. To be eligible for admission into a gemology degree/diploma/certificate course, completion of Plus Two (any stream) or equivalent is the minimum prerequisite. Among the top grade institutes offering study programmes are:

Gemological Institute of India (www.giiionline.com), Mumbai

Arch Gemology and Jewellery Institute (www.archedu.org), Jaipur

Indian Diamond Institute (www.diamondinstitute.net), Surat

Indian Gemological Institute (www.iigdelhi.com), New Delhi

Jasani Department of Jewellery Design and Manufacture, SNDT Womens University Campus, Mumbai

St. Xaviers College, Mumbai

Sindhar Institutes of Gemology (www.sindhar.com), Mumbai, Kolkata, Bangalore, Jaipur, and Surat

The Indian Diamond Institute, Jaipur

Global Jewellery and Gemological Institute, Surat

Indian Institute of Gems and Jewellery, Mumbai

International Gemological Institute, Mumbai

Upward mobility. In India the gems and jewellery sector is undergoing a positive change with diamonds and stones like tanzanite, tourmalines and peridots dominating the consumer preference. The sector is expanding with international companies like De Beers and Argyle promoting diamonds in India and well organised companies like Tanishq entering the jewellery business. Therefore trained gemologists are in great demand. Well qualified gemologists are grabbed by jewellery houses on starting salaries of Rs.8,000–15,000 with prospects of quick upward mobility. For self-employed gemologists, the sky is the limit provided they satisfy market needs with their creativity and enterprise.

Theres a bright future for professionals in this fast-track industry which is witnessing double digit annual rates of growth on the domestic and export fronts. The expanding middle class of double income households and fashion-conscious women are expected to keep jewellery sales spiralling. Our traditional know-how combined with high technology has been a great advantage in capturing overseas markets. In the days to come, India will have a sizeable share of the international gems and jewellery market. Its a great time for professional gemologists,” says Amar Mehta, dynamic chief executive of the Mumbai-based Livingstone Jewellery, one of the top 40 gems and jewellery companies in India with annual sales of Rs.55 crore.

A commerce graduate of Mumbais Jai Hind College, Mehta started learning about precious gems, particularly diamonds, in the family owned Livingstone Enterprises while still in college. After graduation he signed up for a short study course in gemology with the HRD Institute, Belgium (1991–93). Subsequently, in 1993 he headed for California to complete a six-month graduate course at the Gemological Institute of America.

In those days no formal training in this trade was available in India and the industry was disorganised. Now with this industry having matured, it is essential that people associated with it are formally trained. Fortunately, a number of training institutes and schools have sprung up in India and its much easier to hire trained workers and professionals. This augurs well for this industry,” says Mehta, who employs over 300 personnel in Livingstone Jewellery and exports diamond, gold, and platinum jewellery to the US, Canada, UK, Europe, Japan, Australia, and South Africa.

Precious and other gemstones have intrigued mankind throughout history and their sparkle is brighter than ever today. So for those with an eye and attachment for them, this is a career full of possibilities.

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