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The Value of Qualifications: Why Your Jeweler’s Education Matters

Don Walsh standing behind the counter in his shop

Today, we emphasize qualifications for our professionals. We would never allow someone who isn’t a qualified electrician to wire our homes, or a qualified medical practitioner to treat our ailments. The same view should accompany choosing a jeweler.

Buying jewelry is often a high-cost purchase. We trust that the design will be good, the materials will be first-class, and the stones will be properly secured to prevent loss. We trust that the jeweler will have the skills to adjust the item to fit and clean it properly when it becomes dirty. For this reason, it’s important to consider the qualifications of the jeweler you choose. 

What Are Jeweler’s Qualifications?

Professional certification in the jewelry industry recognizes that an individual has received specialized training and has technical knowledge in all elements of jewelry design and artistry. Certification is designed to designate a high level of competence in jewelry making according to industry best practices. 

The Gemological Institute of America is a nonprofit institute based in California. The organization is dedicated to research and education in the field of gemology and the jewelry arts. The group offers a Graduate Gemologist certification to skilled professional jewelers, a designation that allows buyers to understand the individual they have chosen has valuable skills necessary for success in the jewelry industry.

The Graduate Gemologist has completed a comprehensive gemology education on diamonds and colored stones. Using the latest gemological equipment, students work with real diamonds and gemstones under the trained eyes of GIA instructors. Through extensive lab work, students practice identifying and grading diamonds and colored stones in an efficient, accurate and consistent manner.

The Role of a Qualified Jeweler

As a qualified jeweler, I am properly educated to identify, grade, and appraise gemstones accurately.  These skills aid customers in choosing, purchasing, authenticating, selling, or insuring jewelry of quality. It also allows me to clean and polish jewelry using equipment such as polishing wheels and chemical baths with expertise.

Experience vs. Education

While many jewelers gain valuable experience working in the jewelry industry – perhaps in a family business – but being born into a family business or working in a store alone will not provide the full level of knowledge required to work as a skilled jeweler/gemologist. While experience is important, it does not replace formal education and certifications in gemology. This is a very critical piece of the puzzle when choosing a jeweler and can save you lots of money and heartbreak in the long run.

While working for Michaels, I was awarded the title of “Certified Gemologist Appraiser”, the highest title awarded by the American Gem Society. This is only awarded to those who have been properly trained in gemology and appraisals. I was one of the first to achieve this title and held it for over 30 years until I left Michaels. But the knowledge I attained remains.  

Recently, I had a client bring in an engagement ring they had appraised by the owner of a local jewelry store. They appraised it for $5,500.  The problem is, they evaluated the stones in the ring as if they were diamonds and they were actually cubic zirconias, only worth a few dollars.  My client paid for an appraisal and had been paying insurance premiums on $5,500 when it was only worth a small percentage of that! 

Continuing Education and Industry Updates

As with any profession, current events and new technologies affect the business. One of the advantages of formal education is participation in continuing education events that help remain current on advancements in gem treatment technology as well as synthetic stones. As a jeweler having this up-to-date knowledge should make you feel at ease that your business is safe in my hands. 

We also have a complete gem laboratory with all the equipment needed to properly identify and grade diamonds and gemstones.

As a graduate gemologist and founder of DW Gems Services LLC, I’ve been in the jewelry business for over 40 years. I was one of the first Certified Gemologist Appraisers in the country in 1986 after earning the highest title awarded by the American Gem Society. 

If you’d like more information or want to set up an appointment to discuss your jewelry needs, visit www.dwgems.com or call 877-271-4367.