Education is never a waste especially when it is about a topic so
close to metalsmithing and jewelry.
I’ll second that view. It never fails to amaze or dismay me, the
percentage of people in the jewelry field who make their living
selling diamonds and colored gems set in precious metals, who’s main
expertise is marketing. Many on this list are quite knowlegeable
about what they do in metals, but all too limited in their full
understanding of the gems they put into the metal. If aircraft
maintenance mechanics also learned most of what they know from
hearsay, conversations with other equally untrained folks, and the
rumor mill, we’d have a lot more plane crashes. This list is a better
source of info perhaps, for many people than is simply asking the
other jeweler in the next stall at the show who also doesn’t really
know, but there can be so much at stake in terms of finances,
responsibility to your own reputation and professionalism, and the
like, that it’s always seemed to me incomprehensible how many
jewelers and craftspeople simply don’t bother to actually get some
proper training. My own employer is a fine example. Three generations
of jewelry making in the family, since the 30s. The two brothers who
run the thing now bought it, and learned it, from their dad. We’ve
got a bunch of employees. But I’m the only one who’s ever taken any
sort of gemological training course (I’m a G.G.), and they hardly
ever even ask me to help with it. Listening to them sell a diamond
has on more than one occasion made me wince, and the stuff I hear
them say about colored stones is even more often not quite right.
That’s the result of learning a deep understanding of colored stones
and diamonds by reading the mags and listening to vendors, but not
following through. You get most of it right, only to stumble badly
on the details. And the thing is, people with this sort of spotty
education often have no clue what they’re missing. They’re sure they
really know their stuff. This often includes gem dealers from whom
many of these jewelers seem to have learned this junk.
The bottom line, folks. Get a proper education on gems, metals, and
jewelry. GIA is one very good way to do it. It’s not the only way.
But hearsay and hoping you’ll “pick it up somewhare”, are not good
ways. Take the GIA classes. The cost can be easily spread out over
time. They can be taken as correspondence courses at home, often with
even better results and much lower cost than taking the class room
classes at their campus. Just do it. You’ll never regret the
decision to do so.