Let’s talk Gem and Jewelry #1: GEMMOLOGY and how it affects you
What links both Gem and Jewelry together, gems are mostly used to make jewelry but they can be used for ornamental purposes. Here’s a quick crash course in gemmology and how it affects you.
What is Gemmology? It’s the study of gem materials from their origins to their use in jewelry and in ornamentation. Who is a Gemmologist? A Gemmologist is like a detective who identifies gemstones and determines their nature, whether they are natural, treated or synthetic. (Gem-A coursebook)
- What is a Gem – Any material which is used for adornment or decoration, especially when cut and polished.
- Gemstone, Gem Material and Gem are used interchangeably but here is an easy way to understand it.
- Inorganic - Gems are deposited in rocks through natural earth processes
- Organic – Formed or derived from a living organism examples include Amber (fossilized tree resin), Pearls (from oysters), Corals, Bones, etc.
What attributes make a material a Gem?
- Beauty – Cut and shape, Colour, Transparency, Lustre
- Durability – Withstand rigorous wear
- Rarity – Geographically rare and quantity available eg. Tanzanite, Diamond
- Desirabiltiy – Jade is desirable in eastern cultures. Gems worn by royalty, aristocracy and celebrities tend to be in higher demand than other ones. Eg. Diamonds became more valued when De Beers marketed it aggressively as a superior stone. Some coloured stones can give diamond a run for their money
What are the most popular gemstones
Diamond, Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, Topaz, amethyst, Garnet, Aquamarine, Quartz, Peridot, Tourmaline, Opal, Citrine, Topaz , Turquoise, Tanzanite
Types of Gem materials available in the market
- Naturally formed
- Synthetic: Lab-Grown/ Man made gemstones. eg Diamond - Has the same chemical and physical properties but is man made.
- Imitation: Artificial - These are also manmade but do not have the same Chemical or physical properties. eg. Cubic zirconia- used as diamond or green glass used as emerald.
Two diamond rings, One natural and the other lab-grown (www.brilliantearth.com)
Style and shape of Gems
- Unfashioned state - Rough state, not yet cut and polished
- Fashioned state – Cut and polished
- Faceted - Cut and polished, used mostly on transparent gem to produce sparkle by reflecting light off and around the inside of a gem – marquise cut, emerald cut, brilliant cut etc
- Non-faceted – This is used more for cabochons, carvings, beads and cameos
Faceted Amethyst, Cabochon Amethyst, Amethyst Beads
Where do beads come from?
Gemstone beads – Are usually under the non-faceted category of gems because most times they are opaque or translucent and have inclusions. This doesn’t mean they are less valuable, it’s just at a different point on the colour and clarity spectrum. Not all beads are gemstones but there a variety of gemstone beads.
What are Gemstones used for?
- Consumers use it to adorn themselves (mostly used for jewelry)
- Decorate their surrounding, demonstrate their wealth, religious purposes or for health giving properties.
- Ornamental purposes - Carvings, inlays and architectural surfaces
Detailed Jade carving of a Chinese galleon (www.travelsignpostschina.com)
As a Gem professional you can be hired across the value chain from mining, processing, cutting to polishing. Jewelers can patronise locally processed stone dealers thereby providing market for miners. More Jobs available in the industry
- Gemstone mining
- Stone cutting
- Buying and selling of stones
- Jewelry Desjgn
- Valuation and appraisal
- Lab reports and testing
- Customs or legal purposes
- Curation – management of museum collections
- Collectors or hobbyist
- The average value of gemstone export from Nigeria at $3 billion dollars annually.
- The global jewelry business will hit £150 billion by the year 2020, adding that China, India, United States, Hong Kong and Switzerland are major importers of gemstones.
- Nigeria Contributes 10% to Thailand’s $12bn Gemstone Market
- Thailand employees 1/3 of its people in its gemstone industry . 500,000 Thais are employed professional gem-cutters.
Where can you find the gemstones?
- Tourmaline – Nasarawa State, Oyo State
- Sapphire – Taraba State
- Aquamarine – Nasarawa State
- Emerald – Kaduna State, Nasarawa State
- Zircon – Jos Plateau
- Topaz – Nasarawa State
- Amethyst – Bauchi State, Kaduna State, Kano State