About IGS Certification
Founded in 1998, The International Gem Society (IGS) was the first Internet-based school of gemology to serve a global audience. The goal was to reach people who could not otherwise afford a formal education in gemology. IGS’s founder, Donald Clark, created a robust testing process to ensure that those with IGS certification would stand out in the crowd. IGS continues to use the testing material created by Donald Clark to ensure continuity and rigor.
As of November 2013, students will be able to take all tests online. The course is self-study. This means that all of the material is available in the Reference Library, and the burden is on the student to learn the material. There are no online tutorials or classes. The benefit of this approach is that each student can learn at his or her own pace, and on his or her own schedule. Students can take as long as they want to complete each exam in the certification process to ensure familiarity and understanding of the material.
IGS-Certified Professional Gemologist
An IGS-certified Professional Gemologist must:
(1) Pass three 100-question written exams with a score of 87% or better. Each individual exam must be completed within 90 minutes. The student may retake the tests an unlimited number of times until they pass each one.
(2) Thereafter, they must also pass a practical exam which requires identifying and grading 10 gemstones. We will send you the gemstones, which will be common to the trade and include natural, enhanced, synthetic, and assembled stones. Deductions will be made for errors, and the applicant must score 87% or better to pass.
When the written and practical tests have been completed with passing scores, the IGS-Certified Professional Gemologist certificate will be awarded.
Certification Cost: $350
The cost to become an IGS-certified Professional Gemologist is $400 with a $50 refund given if you choose to return the stones used for the practical test. (You may keep the stones instead, if you wish.)
This results in a total cost of $350 (assuming you choose to return the stones).
Please note that certification costs are non-refundable.
All the information you need is located in our Reference Library. There are no other books required. The gemology course is divided into sections:
An Introduction to Gemology covers basic subjects of interest to the general public. These are non-technical articles designed to open the doors to a complex subject.
Advanced Gemology explains the technical terms used to define gems and introduces the more complex subjects.
Practical Gemology goes one step further, explaining how to use the tools of gemology and what to do with the information they supply. This is the essence of gem identification. This is the most difficult part to learn. It takes time and practice to learn how to use these instruments properly. Take one instrument at a time and master it before moving on to the next one. Intersperse this practice with your reading for the quickest learning. (See “Tools of the Gemologist” for a list of necessary instruments.)
Gem Grading details the factors used in grading diamonds and colored stones.
Advanced Gem Information gives details on specific gems.
Appraising Once you have learned how gems differ from one another, how to identify them and what properties determine their value, you can move on to appraising. The actual appraising is fairly simple after one has mastered gem identification and grading.
For beginners we have a structured syllabus, however you may study in any order that suits you.
Many people want to know how the IGS course compares with those offered by the GIA or similar organizations. Many are specifically asking how our gemologist certification compares to a GG degree. The GIA is an excellent organization. Their Graduate Gemologist degree is the most respected credential a person can hold in this industry. If you have the time and money, and are serious about a career in the gem industry, the GG course should be your first choice.
The IGS certification program was created for everyone else. The founder of IGS and author of the program, Donald Clark, has strong connections with the lapidary community. For years, he listened to amateurs giving inaccurate advice to others. For example, he heard things like: “If your blue stone has an RI of 1.625, then it is topaz, not aquamarine.” Those two properties, color and RI, also belong to tourmaline and a few rare minerals. Blue topaz and blue tourmaline have vastly different values. Not knowing the difference can be costly, in terms of both money and reputation.
Don believed that the problem stemmed not from the well-meaning lapidary sharing his incomplete knowledge, but that there wasn’t anywhere to learn gem identification, short of taking a $3,000 course. For them, he created IGS. It is dedicated to all the gem cutters, collectors, jewelers, and others wanting to know more about gems. The Professional Gemologist program was also created for those lacking the resources for a GG degree. A typical example would be a person making a midlife career change. This often involves working two jobs for a period, or the time consuming process of starting a new business.
What the certification tells a customer, or potential employer, is that the holder has proven their knowledge of gemology: that they are versed in its terminology, the properties of gems, how they are valued, and that they possess the skills and knowledge to distinguish one gem from another. But let us be clear: having a certification may open doors. Beyond that, it is the way an individual presents themselves and their work ethic that determines their success.