International Gem Society
Employers see our Grading Standards
Costs and RequirementsAs an IGS member, you are automatically enrolled in the gemology course, no other steps are required.
To become an IGS certified Professional Gemologist there are two exams and the grading fees are $30 each.
Our gemology course is set up so you can study at your own pace; there are no required exams and no time frames involved. One of our goals is to make gemological information available to everyone. You are welcome to reference our materials without ever taking an exam.
Course MaterialsAll 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.
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.
Gem Lending ProgramTo further your study, we lend out packages of gems. There are no limits on how many you can borrow. You can use and many or as few as you feel are necessary.
The stones are chosen to give you a good representation of what you will encounter as a professional gemologist. Most of the gems are common varieties, like amethyst, diamond and garnet. There are faceted gems and cabs, natural, synthetic and assembled stones. Most are of a reasonable size, but there are also some tiny gems. They are harder to work with, but they are common in jewelry so practice with them is a necessity.
The gems are in lots of fifteen. To order gems, you must first supply us with a deposit of $200. This will be refunded at the end of your study, provided all the gems are returned. You will be charged for any gems lost.
There is a grading fee of $30, plus shipping, for each set of fifteen gems. Forms will be provided for both identification and quality grading. Your results will be corrected and assistance will be offered in the areas where you need help.
Email the forms to the IGS before returning the gems. Then you can then compare the graded forms with the gems.
Please try to complete and return each lot within thirty days. Let us know if additional time is needed. If we don't hear from you within two months, your deposit will be forfeited.
Certification ProgramsGemologist Program
To become certified as a "Professional Gemologist", PG, one must demonstrate their knowledge, the ability to use standard gemological tools, be able to identify common gem materials and separate natural gems from their synthetic counterparts. In addition, one must demonstrate fundamental skills of grading by color, clarity, cutting, and size per species.
Any member may apply for certification.
You will need all the standard tools of gem identification. You do not need to purchase any books or reference materials, all the information you need is included with your membership.
Testing will be in two segments, a written test and a practical exam. Both exams will be conducted by email. There is a $30 grading fee, (plus shipping,) for each exam, plus a $200 deposit will be required for the gems. This will be refunded, provided all the gems are returned. You will be charged for any gems lost.
Master Gemologist Program
More InformationMany people want to know how the IGS course compares with those offered by the GIA and 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 was created for everyone else. I have strong connections with the lapidary community. For years, I have been listening to amateurs giving inaccurate advice to others. For example, I have 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.
The problem lies, not with the well meaning lapidary sharing his incomplete knowledge, but that there hasn't been anywhere to learn gem identification, short of taking a $3,000 course. For them, the IGS was created. 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.
Having a certification opens doors. Beyond that, it is the way an individual presents themselves and their work ethic that determines their success.
* The above examples are all related to the GIA. There are similar organizations in Canada, Asia and Europe that offer equally good schooling. If you are considering a career in gemology, they deserve fair consideration as well.
Membership in the IGS is just $99 per year. Click here for our membership application.
Grading StandardsThe International Gem Society is the first Internet school of gemology and the first to serve the entire world. We have members on every continent except Antarctica and have been highly successful in reaching people who could not otherwise afford a formal education in gemology.
Our training is among the most thorough of any organization and our testing is exceptionally rigorous. This was intentional, as our certifications would be valueless if the people who owned them could not perform in the work place.
An IGS certified Professional Gemologist must pass a 100 question written exam with a score of 87% or better. (See sample below.) They must also pass a practical exam which requires identifying and grading 15 gemstones. The gems are common to the trade and include natural, enhanced, synthetic, and assembled stones. Misidentifying a species is an automatic fail. Deductions are allowed for minor errors, but the applicant must still score 87% or better to pass.
To become a certified Master Gemologist, the student must pass a second exam. They are required to identify rare gems, those that are not found in standard gemological reference, (such as rutile and tryphlite.) They are also required to grade and identify rough gemstones. This is more difficult than identifying cut stones because you cannot get as much information from them. In addition, they must understand how yield is based on shape and inclusions.
When presented with an IGS certification, you can be assured that the individual possessing it has passed extensive examinations and has proved their knowledge and abilities are exemplary.
Sample ExamHere is a sample of the questions an IGS member must answer on their way to becoming a certified Professional Gemologist.
1 If you found a GGG in a diamond band, the GGG would be classed as:
Any stone posing as something else is an imitation. GGG is classed as a homocreate because it has no natural counterpart.
See Synthetic Gemstones and Their Identification.
2 If an opal showed only blue color that was very bright, had a good cut, was
only slightly directional and had no imperfections on the top it would be graded
This stone has one factor in the commercial grade and one in the fine category, and two in the good category. See Appraising Opals - Part 2, Applying Value.
3 Hydrothermal grown refers to:
See Synthetic Gemstones and Their Identification and Gem Formation.
4 Brilliant faceting is determined by:
There are two basic styles of cutting; brilliant and step cutting. Step cutting, (as in an emerald cut,) features long, rectangular facets. Brilliant cutting uses triangular and kite shaped facets.
While brilliant faceting usually enhances optical performance and dispersion, by definition it is the shape of the facets. Factories often do "brilliant" style cutting, with less than brilliant results.
See "Gem Cutting Terms"
5 HPHT treatments to improve color is done on which type of diamond:
See HPHT Diamond Update.
6 Demantoid is a species of garnet.
Demantoid is a variety of andradite. See Understanding Garnets.
7 Hardness is a clear determination of how well a gem will wear.
See The Physical Properties of Gemstones.
8 All minerals species have a different chemical composition.
See "How Gems are Classified"
9 Cameos are made from both plastic and sea shells. They can be distinguished
See Sea Shells and our Professional Gem Reference.
10 Color change is defined as the difference between what is seen in incandescent
and fluorescent light.
Many people use two electric lights to test for color change and they miss many! You must use natural light as no artificial light can match it.
See "Color Change Gems."
Membership in the IGS is just $99 per year. Click here for our membership application.