A shine apart

A gleam here, and a glint there, but there’s more to a career in gemmology, finds Reena Jhaveri

A shine apart

Sector overview

Gems and jewellery is an important emerging sector in the Indian economy. Ranked among the fastest growing sectors, it is also a leading sector for foreign exchange generation.

The gems and jewellery industry is fascinating, since it is traditionally glamorous and artistically modern. This business employs and engages millions, covering a wide range of activities such as raw material procurement from other countries, and transforming these into products in demand with the skills available for the sophisticated global markets.

India’s position in gems and jewellery sector has always been strong, albeit, now it is in the limelight. Gems and jewellery is one of India ‘s leading foreign exchange earning sectors. It accounted for 16.7 per cent of India ‘s total merchandise exports last year. USA’s import of gems and jewellery from India increased by 50.5 per cent in 2010 as compared to 2009, according to the Investment Technology Promotion Division, Ministry of External Affairs, Government of India. The Indian exports are expected to grow at a whopping 15 to 20 per cent in the current year. At present India exports 95 per cent of the world’s diamonds.

India is a gems and jewellery hub, with a rich tradition/ heritage of craftsmanship with high level of skills. Due to low production costs with great output quality, India is always in demand. Low production costs give us the edge with an effective world-wide distribution network for promotion and marketing. During the 2010-11, the total exports stood at US$ 43139.24 million as compared to US$ 29368.72 million during 2009-10.

Apart from that, gems and jewellery are never going to get out of fashion, so there is ample scope to make a career in this field.

To get there

A shine apart

To take up a short-term certificate or diploma in any gemmology related study programme you must have completed your schooling or 10+2 level and must be at least 18 years old. These courses provide basic information regarding the identification of different gemstones. Also, principles of evaluating and grading cut gems are a part of these study programmes. Some of these short-term courses are:

  • Gem Identification Certificate Course
  • Diamond Grading Certificate Course
  • Certificate course in Cut Design and Analysis
  • Pearl Grading
  • Polished Diamond Grading Course and so on.

Apart from these short-term courses, you can go for a diploma in gemmology. The duration of these study programmes can range from anywhere between nine weeks to one year.

The curriculum of these programmes incorporates the study of various techniques and instruments that are used in the gemmological industry. These courses also provide you with hands on experience on gemmological related tools and instruments by way of practical tests.

Although you can get into these diploma courses with bare minimum information regarding precious stones but the evaluation process in these institutes is very stringent.

The basic prerequisite for applying for a diploma in gemmology is that you must be a graduate in any discipline. Some art and design colleges across the nation also offer jewellery design as a part of their bachelors and masters level curriculum.

Of course traditionally the industry has personnel that has learnt on the job, but the demand for professionally trained personnel is increasing.

Institutes

• International Gemological Institute, Opera House, Mumbai

• SinGem Jewellery Education, Kalbadevi, Mumbai

• J K Diamonds Institute of Gems & Jewellery, Opera House, Mumbai

• Finesse Design Studio, Vile Parle West, Mumbai

• Indian Institute of Jewellery, Mahalaxmi, Mumbai

• Gemological Science International, Opera House, Mumbai

• Ray Diamond Institute, Andheri, Mumbai

• Gemological Institute of Inda, Andheri, Mumbai

• The Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, Tardeo, Mumbai

• Gemological Institute of America, Nariman Point, Mumbai

• St Xavier’s College, Geology Department, Dhobi Talao, Mumbai

• The Jasami Department of Jewellery Design & Manufacture, SNDT University Campus, Juhu, Mumbai

• Gemology Institute of India, Mumbadevi, Mumbai

• Vakall’s Academy of Jewellery Design, Tardeo, Mumbai

• Shri Bhagubhai Mafatlal Polytechnic, Vile Parle, Mumbai

 The job market

The sector is highly fragmented and unorganised, and is characterised by family-owned operations. Around 96 per cent of the gems and jewellery players have family-owned businesses, but, over the last few years, more organised players have been entering the sector. The products in the sector can be categorised as gemstones, jewellery and pearls, which can be further segmented into diamonds, coloured stones (precious, semi-precious and synthetic), studded jewellery, costume jewellery, gold and silver.

The job prospects for a gemmologist are plenty. You can look for employment in a wide variety of places. You can enter the mining or the gem exporting industry. Then there is the scope to work in the jewellery designing and jewellery retailing business.

You can also find opportunities in industrial units specialising in gem cutting and polishing and treatment of rough gems. In fact, the diamond polishing industry in India is one of the largest foreign exchange earning sectors in the country.

Other options include opportunities in precious metal evaluating and testing labs and gem certifying bodies.

Salaries offered

As a gemmologist, your pay scale will largely be governed by your qualification in this field and by the status of your employer. A basic course in gemology can fetch you a salary in the range of `10,000 to `18,000 a month. On the other hand a higher qualification can help you command a `25,000 to `30,000 package.

If you are running your own independent unit then the profits you earn can easily run into crores of rupees annually depending upon the scale of business.

There is a great demand for trained gemmologists these days. The growth in demand for these professionals is mainly propelled by the requirements of people who want to buy genuine gem stones.

Moreover, the gems and jewellery industry has gone through a sea change in the recent past. Buyers and even retailers have become more quality conscious and as a result, there is all the more need for expert gemmologists. What’s more interesting is that gemmology in India is intricately associated with astrology, which opens many new doors.

A student says , Shrina Thakkar, Pursuing her course

In India, the gems and jewellery scenario is undergoing a positive change with diamonds and stones like Tanzanite, Tourmalines, Peridots dominating the consumer preference. At the same time, some of the traditionally preferred gems like Rubies, Sapphires and Emeralds have maintained a consistent position. The Industry is one that has remained unfazed despite the slowdown hitting most sectors. When studying about the specific qualities, one can understand the meaning of these gems lies much beyond the surface and colour.

Although the client will recognise it only by colour, clarity, shape and size also matter. Only the trained eye of a qualified gemmologist can identify these characteristics and qualities. For this, you either have to spend years in the field being trained on the job, or better, opt for an education in the field. You can choose from a variety of courses available.

From trade point of view, this industry has been one of the biggest foreign exchange earners for India. It is therefore, highly necessary that people associated with the trade, receive training and carry out the operations scientifically and professionally so as to achieve greater success.

This consistent growth in the gems and jewellery industry has opened up a plethora of career opportunities for gemmologists.

In the field, Vishal Jhaveri, Diamond sorter

From time immemorial, diamonds and gemstones have always known to hold the fascination of men and women alike. They have been held as objects that epitomise wealth, power, healing and prosperity.

Everybody desires to own a gemstone for its beauty, rarity, value, durability, tradition and portability. However, not everyone has the knack and knowledge to understand gemmology. I have been lucky to be introduced to this field by chance, and then make it my profession. Each day is different with different clients, and dealing with new designs, to see how far we can push our creativity to produce something unique.

A gemmologist can look at various options in the industry like gem cutting, sorting, grading, valuation and identification of gemstones, computer aided designing, jewellery making, consultancy regarding stones, selling of gemstones etc.

There are several gemstones that sometimes look alike, but their values are different and only a gemmologist can easily identify the difference and know its value.­

An aspirant asks, Hasmukh Mehta, FYJC Commerce student

I hail from a family of diamond merchant and traders, and I have not been given any choice except to study and join the family business. Not that I mind it, but I want to lend my own thoughts to it as well, I simply do not want to ‘take over’ what my fore-fathers started. Is there a course I can opt for which will teach me to treat this industry differently?

Professional Vishal Jhaveri answers: Gemmology is the aspect of mineralogy that covers the study of gem materials which includes identification, testing, cutting, polishing synthetically manufactured gems, precious metals and alloys, their sources and origins and grading and appraising.

The study of gemmology entails a step-by-step process that must be thorough with any expert gemmologist. The first thing that one needs to know is the process of categorisation. The second would be to understand the physical and optical properties that are used to identify gems and the terminology used. One can then proceed into gem identification. With these tools, you will definitely be able to introduce a new line of gem stone products, apart from diamonds, and probably start a design line of your own as well. Jewellery design is available as a seprate course, or along with gemology, and you can opt for it as well.

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