Emily Jones

Course studied at BCU: BSc (Hons) Gemmology and Jewellery Studies
Company: Gemmological Institute of America
Job title: Staff Gemmologist

Please describe your industry and the role that you do.

I work within the industry of Gems and Jewellery as a Staff Gemmologist in the Coloured Stone Department at the Gemmological Institute of America's (GIA) New York lab.

What other Gemmology/Jewellery industry related jobs have you had?

None - this is my first job in the industry. Although I did have a couple of week-long work experience jobs prior to starting my Gemmology degree which helped me to get a flavour of what career options are available in the industry. I worked at Holts learning lapidary and Boodles where I mostly worked in the marketing department at Bond St.

What qualifications do you have that helped you to secure this job?

My FGA (and DGA) and Gemmology degree were both definitely key factors which helped me to secure my role as a Staff Gemmologist. For this type of role I imagine that the FGA is a necessary qualification, and my degree on top of this would've given me a step up over the other candidates. However, even with these qualifications I'm still undergoing a lengthy training and induction period to ensure that my practical gemmology skills are on par with the rest of my team.

Which particular elements of your BSc (Hons) Gemmology and Jewellery studies degree is utilised most in your job?

90% of my role is practical gemmology, so I mostly use experience gained from the modules based around examining and identifying gemstones and their treatments. The modules focusing on the theory of gemmology are also very useful to understand the science behind practical gemmology. If I ever get to write anything for Gems & Gemmology (GIA's journal) then the essay-based modules (e.g. final-year Research Project) will also be helpful writing experience for this.

What particular strengths of yours help you to succeed within your job?

I'd say that I'm a very logical and precise person, allowing me to have a strong attention to detail which is crucial to producing an accurate conclusion for a gemstone.

Can you tell us about something memorable, exciting or challenging that you have experienced at work?

So far, most days have been both exciting and challenging as I'm always absorbing new information and knowledge from the rest of my team (it can be hard to keep up sometimes!). Working in the lab, I also get to see a lot of stunning gemstones and the occasional piece of jewellery. The rest of my team are aware that opals are my favourite gemstone, so if they're examining anything interesting they often send it my way so I can gawk at it.

If you were to interview, a candidate to perform the same job as you do what essential qualifications, experience and character traits would you look for?

I think most gem labs consider the FGA or GG as essential qualifications, alongside a science-based degree in gemmology, geology or chemistry (although I think you can work your way up without a FGA/degree if you start as a trainee and work towards your GG at the same time, sort of like an apprenticeship). Industry experience is always beneficial, particularly if the job involves the use of practical gemmology.

I should also note that I'm a dual citizen (I have US and UK passports), which was probably a key factor in securing my job, so the ability to work in the chosen country is important.

Important character traits for a Staff Gemmologist would be:

  • precision / good attention to detail
  • ability to work as part of a team
  • logical mindset
  • ability to learn and adapt to new techniques as research and technology progresses

Are there any career progression opportunities within your company and if so what are you aspiring to progress to?

Within the Coloured Stone department, the day-to-day activities of everyone in the team are pretty similar, whether you're a trainee or a manager, so I don't think my role will change too much in the future. However, with time I'll gain more experience and seniority, which could lead to a managerial role within a Coloured Stone team.

GIA also has a Field Gemmology department based in Bangkok which I'd love to be a part of one day, either on a temporary or permanent basis, as a field expedition is high up on my list of career goals.