What is 'Gemology'

Gemology is the combined art and science of studying, cutting, valuing, buying and selling precious stones. Some of the most precious jewels that gemologists deal in include diamonds, rubies, sapphires, and emeralds.

BREAKING DOWN 'Gemology'

Gemology is a type of mineralogy that specifically focuses on the study of precious gems, both natural and those composed of artificial materials. Some jewelers are gemologists. Appraisers who evaluate the value of gemstones should also be a gemologist or at least have studied extensively to master the most important aspects of determining a gem’s condition and value.

With advances in gemstone synthesis, gemology has become a much more important field of study. Often, industry professionals are the most highly trained and educated gemologists. These professionals have become certified gemologists. An accredited gemologist is an expert in the field who has completed an intense training and gone through advanced education in various gemstone areas. Often, they will specialize in a specific area of the business or a particular type of stone. Many gemologists specialize in the study and evaluation of diamonds.

Gemologists value stones based on factors, including cut, color, quality, and clarity. Many people are familiar with a similar group of criteria for gemstone evaluation used in assessing diamonds. For diamonds, the factors are generally known as the 4 Cs of color, clarity, cut and carat.

Gemology and Gemstone Investing

When returns in the stock market decline, aggressive investors often seek out alternative investments which hold more promise of increasing returns on invested capital. Precious gems, in particular, those that are rare or of exceptional quality, have a high likelihood of at least retaining their value, and are likely to increase in value. However, they are not an asset which may be as easily liquidated as other investments if there is an urgent need for cash. This problem is especially real for rare, precious stones which would appeal to an elite level of buyer. 

Gemstone investing can seem exciting to people who want to make quick returns, but it is highly speculative and should only be undertaken by experienced professionals. The term investment-grade is often tossed around by those who want to sell gems or try to convince other people to invest in them. However, this is controversial and frowned upon by industry leaders, as there are no formal standards for what constitutes an investment-grade gemstone.

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