Gemmology is the study of gem materials from their origins through to their use in jewellery - this includes their formation (within the Earth, laboratory, factory or farm), mining or manufacture, treatments, cutting and polishing through to jewellery design.
A gemmologist uses their knowledge of the individual characteristics of different gemstones to identify them and to determine whether they are natural, synthetic or treated.
There are around 200 gem species, each of which may have a number of different varieties. For example, Beryl is a species of gemstone which includes the varieties emerald, aquamarine, heliodor, morganite and goshenite. As you can see, this multiplies up to a large number of different natural gemstones!
Gemmologists also need to keep up to date with the latest treatments, synthetic and imitation stones as they appear on the market.
Gemmology is used in various fields and for a number of purposes, including
- gemstone mining
- lapidary (a highly skilled craftsperson who cuts and polishes coloured gemstones)
- buying and selling gems
- designing gem-set jewellery
- valuation and appraisal of jewellery