Jewelers, Gemologists and Appraisers
What is the difference between a jeweler, gemologist and appraiser? Its not as complicated as you might think. Here is the information regarding jewelry purchases and what you need to know about jewelers, gemologists, and appraisers...


A jeweler can be a gemologist...but it is not necessary to be a gemologist to be a jeweler. Jewelers are the fine people out there who sell jewelry, gemstones, and watches to the public. But for the most part, retail jewelers are not trained gemologists or appraisers. So simply because someone has been in the business for 10 or 20 years or more, does not make them a qualified gemologist or appraiser. Even though it may indeed make them a fine upstanding citizen in your local business community.

However, since there are many, many pitfalls in the world of gemstones, such as treatments, imitations, and synthetics, it should be important for you to seek out the help of a qualified gemologist for any jewelry or gemstone purchase that you make...before you look for insurance coverage of that purchase. So after you make your purchase you should seek out the help of a qualified gemologist to insure that you got what you thought you purchased. But be very wary of jewelers who both sell and appraise their own merchandise. If they are jewelry merchants and not properly trained gemologists, you should be wary of any quality grades and/or appraisals that they provide.

And for sure be very, very wary of those discount stores who offer appraisals done before your purchase. You know, the one's where the price is always higher than your purchase price, and the store claims to be offering you a big discount based only on the "appraisal" that was done in advance. These appraisals are nothing more than sales tools. They offer you inflated appraisal prices on your purchase, and will cause you to pay insurance premiums far above what the replacement cost of your jewelry will be. So be careful not to assume that just because your purchase is accompanied by an official looking document from an official looking gemological laboratory that you are getting a proper appraisal for use on your insurance policy. Those are sales tools intended to make you think you are getting a discount...nothing more. Get a third opinion before you get coverage.

 N There is no such thing as a "certified appraisal". There are "Certified Gemologists" and "Certified Gemologist Appraisers" from the American Gem Society. But no one..not the GIA or anyone else, bestows the title of "certified appraisal" on any document. The title of "Certified Appraisal" is just a sales tool.


A gemologist is one who studies gemstone identification and grading. A good gemologist is not necessarily a good appraiser. But a good appraiser must be a good gemologists. How can this be? Well, a good gemologist will be someone who is constantly involved in the study of gemstones. And all too many gemologists get their Graduate Gemologist diploma from the Gemological Institute of America and never see the inside of a gem study classroom again. And considering how many changes occur in the gem and jewelry industry each year, it is not possible to maintain one's gemological expertise if the last time you were in a gemological classroom was the last day of your GIA training. So while a lot of people may offer themselves as gemologists simply because they are Graduate Gemologists, you should look behind the diploma and ask what additional training they have. Such as American Gem Society, Gemmological Association of Great Britain, Paris (Texas) Junior College, or additional studies with the GIA. A good gemologist will be someone who can show you a proven, ongoing history of gemological study to make sure they keep up on all of the latest developments in the jewelry and gemstone industry.

However, not all good gemologists make good appraisers. In fact, the worst appraiser you can get is someone right out of gemology school. Why? Because gemology schools teach the scientific facts of gemstone identification and grading, but not the appraisal and market valuation of jewelry and gemstones. Therefore, a good gemologist could tell you that the photograph shown above is a synthetic alexandrite, they could most likely not be able to tell you the difference in price between this synthetic and a natural alexandrite. So while a good appraiser must be a good gemologist to be able to proper identify and grade jewelry and gemstones, a good gemologist right out of school will not have the experience and knowledge of market values to be able to provide you with a proper insurance replacement appraisal. So don't just look for a Graduate Gemologist or a Fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great may know more about diamond prices than they do if they are fresh out of school. Look, for someone with an ongoing gemological education along with several years of experience in the appraisal and valuation of the jewelry or gemstone item you have purchased.

A qualified gemologist will be a graduate of one of the following gemological institutes or organizations:

  • International School of Gemology....................Registered Gemologist
  • Gemological Institute of America.....................Graduate Gemologist
  • Gemmological Association of Great Britain......FGA
  • American Gem Society...................................Certified Gemologist
 N A good appraiser must be a good gemologist. But not all good gemologists are good appraisers. It takes years of experience to be able to properly evaluate the market values of jewelry and gemstones.


A good appraiser is one who combines the efforts of retail jewelers to stay up on the latest market trends and prices in jewelry and gemstones, with the qualified gemologist who constantly studies the latest developments in the field of gemology. A good appraiser will constantly be in a study mode to learn all they can about the latest in gemological news and events, while watching the market trends and prices on a wide range of jewelry and gemstones.

And perhaps as important as the above is that the qualified appraiser will constantly study the latest news and developments in the legal requirements of the insurance insurance in regards to the insuring of fine jewelry and gemstones. And will keep themselves abreast of the latest laws government both the insurance companies and the insured in regards to the coverage of jewelry.

To find a qualified appraiser, or learn more about becoming a jewelry appraiser, you should seek out the services of a member of one of the following organizations:

  • International School of Gemology Registered Gemologist Appraiser
  • American Gem Society.
  • American Society of Appraisers
  • International Society of Appraisers
  • National Association of Jewelry Appraisers
  • To learn more about becoming a qualified Jewelry Appraiser please visit the

    International School of Gemology

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    Robert James FGA, GG.....YourGemologist