Gemstone Identification

The Gemstone identification assignments should prove to be a particularly interesting and rewarding phase of your gemological training. All of the numerous properties and characteristics of gemstones studied in the colored gemstone will, with the aid of a few simple instruments, become tangible and meaningful tools that will permit accurate classification and analysis of any given gem or gem substitute.

In the following assignments you will study the theory, construction and use of the instruments found in gem testing laboratories today. Stones selected especially for the purpose will be included, to enable you to relate the characteristics of gems to the theory underlying and construction and use of the instruments. When this critical phase of the course work is understood fully, the identification of an unknown stone may be undertaken with confidence.

Although gem identification, grading and appraising could be considered a purely technical problem, it includes much more than just the application of simple formulas or the interpretation of instrument reactions. The identification of stones for buying or appraisal purposes requires not only a minimum understanding of the technical aspects involved, but an intense interest in, and enthusiasm for, gems as a whole. The person who finds pleasure in handling stones, who sees every stone as a mystery to be solved, an who enjoys accepting the challenge will team how to identify them quickly.

If all varieties of a given species were identical, if all tested were loose, and if all gave readable reactions on all instruments, a standardized testing procedure could be adopted. It must be understood, however, that this is definitely not possible. Different styles of mountings, for example, will eliminate some instrument tests, by falling to expose the necessary portions of a stone. Curved and flat facets impose their distinctive limitations, as do varying degrees of transparency. Thus, each specimen must be considered as an individual problem that requires a particular sequence of tests. It should be obvious, therefore, that a thorough knowledge of the limitations and capabilities of each instrument, as applied to the various stone characteristics is essential.

A thorough knowledge brings one other key benefit: the ability to detect stones on which no work should be undertaken, except with the written acceptance by the customer of all responsibility for possible damage. Actually, this is important only for pieces that would be shown to the gemologist because of unusual value or for some other reason. Some diamonds are under so much strain that they show colors in the polariscope. They are dangerous to handle, for the slightest blow or uneven pressure in the setting may cause cleavage. It is such stone; that are the subject of lawsuits or the unhappiness that leads to damaging word-of-mouth campaigns.

As you progress in the course and become adept in identification work, you will be in a better position to formulate plans for including this training in your store services. One objective should be to establish a competent and profitable appraisal department that is aimed at expanding repair, special order and related services. It is the extent to which these special services are offered that denotes the nature of today's exceptional jewelry store and sets it apart from the general jewelry operation that is facing so much competition from the heavily promotional firms, department stores, and the various types of operations that rely wholly on discount selling.

Today's more advanced training has a number of uses that may be equally or even more important in their potential to the gemologist. There are a number of readily available possibilities that only the trained man can utilize. Those students who complete and exploit their training to the fullest extent will soon be far ahead of the average jeweler.

The many illustrations and the extensive use of practice stones to further illustrate points needing clarification are features of the course, and the questionnaires and identification projects make possible a closer step-by-step check on your progress. Your strengths and weaknesses in identification procedures and techniques are disclosed quickly to your instructor; he can then assist you where It is needed most and clarify any point that is not understood fully.

The course is designed to proceed from the basic use of important instruments to the more advanced concepts in an orderly manner. Refractometer, polariscope and magnification studies are each divided into two parts, separated by several assignments. Following each instrument assignment is an instrument use or identification project that requires property determinations and the identification of a number of stones. The last several assignments consist of additional stone sets for identification.

To complete the course successfully more than 500 stones must be identified. One of the requirements is a twenty stone examination and another 15 stone examination, the passing grade for which is 100%. If you apply yourself to the study and to the identification of the practice sets, this will be much less difficult than you might now.

Your purpose in taking this course should be to acquire the maximum amount of knowledge and skill that it has to offer. The following suggestions will help you attain this goal

  1. Maintain a regular schedule.
  2. Take full advantage of your instructor's knowledge. Review carefully all comments made on your questionnaires and worksheets. Do not leave any phase of the work until it is understood fully.
  3. The stone furnished with this course represent a cross section of characteristics and properties you will need to know to become proficient in gem identification. Take care of them and do not use hardness or other destructive tests; a jeweler who does so is not only unfamiliar with testing procedures, but has little feeling for gems or the property of others. He is not the professional man he should be.
  4. Be systematic in the preparation of your identification reports. Double check all entries and keep the forms neat. It will not be long before you will not be preparing reports for customers. Careless preparation robs a report of the essential feeling of authority. For maximum success, the creation and maintenance of the impression that you are an authority is vital.
  5. Take care of your instruments; without them you cannot identify stones. The manner in which you handle instruments will be an indication of your overall ability, not only to your instructors but to your customers.

In the absence of instrument work, much of the information in the colored gemstone course had little significance; however, it will assume new importance with every step of the progress you make in this course. The colored gemstone course provides the most accurate and comprehensive reference material available. As you learn to identify each new stone, review the assignment devoted to it, to cement your knowledge of the theoretical and practical aspects of each species. In a short time, when you have learned identification, you will be an authority on gems and will have an entirely new insight into the potential that is within your grasp.

The assignments in this course differ widely, both in length and in the type of work required. Discussions on the theory of light and other basic subjects proceed instrument work, when needed to clarify the interpretation of instrument reactions. These sections should be studied thoroughly, since a knowledge of the design and construction of gem-testing instruments is essential.

The first part of the course is devoted to routine testing; advanced methods are presented later. Although you may not have access to some of the instruments discussed, these assignments should be studied carefully, because new information will be presented concerning gemstone properties and their analysis that is required fore sound working knowledge of gem identification. Such knowledge will permit you to take maximum advantage of the instruments you have.

At a time when a marketing revolution is taking place -- when the retailer conducting an ordinary business is under ever greater pressure from the "wholesale-retail" stores, department stores, discount houses, discount department stores, powerful chains, and the house-to-house crew -- strong measures are necessary to keep ahead of this competition. Competing with them on their own terms is difficult and often unsatisfactory. Making capital of your status as a gem authority becoming an expert worthy of the name carries an enormous potential in added sales. By building an image in your community (preferably in your entire city as an authority in gem circles, you can put yourself beyond reach, competitively.)

To achieve a status equal to that of either man is perhaps beyond the powers of most gemologists, but there is no reason not to create as formidable an image as you can with the assets at your command. By lecturing on gemstones at every opportunity and by making your availability known to program chairmen, you soon will become widely known under the ideal condition of acceptance as an expert. Customers in increasing numbers will turn to you for advice. With such a well-established reputation, the big sales will come within your reach.

Obviously, lecturing is only a part of the total effort. You must know your subject thoroughly. Through the knowledge gained in this and the colored gemstone Course, you will have the means at hand to build important competitive advantages. Plan now to put it to work.