Pearl Specialist Mini Course

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Course Details

Beginner 6 Units 25 Lessons

About this Course

Attention all pearl lovers! If you just can't resist the draw of these spherical gems, you'll love this course. Dive deep into the world of pearls to learn how they form and what gives them their remarkable glow. Looking to purchase or sell pearls? Learn about different types of pearls, from cultured Akoyas to ultra-rare melo pearls, and how to properly care for them. Every pearl enthusiast will learn something new in this course.

Who is this course for?

  • Hobbyists: Learn how to evaluate and care for pearls
  • Consumers: Learn how to choose a pearl for jewelry
  • Professionals: Think you know pearls? Test your knowledge!

What this course offers

  • Brand new pearl articles in our Reference Library, including a recent interview with renowned pearl expert, Jim Grahl
  • Gain specialized knowledge on pearls that will help you to build your gemology skills
  • Complete the mini-course at your own pace as you balance personal and professional commitments
  • Test your knowledge: To earn the IGS Pearl Badge, take one 25 question quiz

Why take this course?

A flexible and affordable mini-course from one of the top online gemology schools.

Enroll in the IGS Pearl Mini-course and gain specialized knowledge about one of the most popular organic gemstones. Build expertise in 6 core areas — pearl formation and properties, evaluating cultured pearls, understanding non-nacreous pearls, how to choose a pearl distinguishing natural and cultured pearls from simulants, and grading pearls — while learning through articles and visuals. This completely online mini-course is an affordable way to pursue your hobby or build a career in gemology.

Course Roadmap

Read the Lessons
Written Test
Earn Badge

Units and Lessons

Unit 1 - Introduction to Pearls

Welcome to the pearl world! People have coveted these gemstones since antiquity, and their watery origins have inspired folklore throughout the world, and jewelers adore using their spherical shape in innovative design. In this unit, you’ll learn how pearls form and what gives them their distinctive glow. You’ll also read about the mollusks that grow them and what makes them one of the most delicate gems around.

See Lessons (7)
Unit 2 - Understanding Cultured Pearls

Nearly all pearls on the market are cultured pearls. Learning about the differences between different types of cultured pearls is essential to an understanding of the modern pearl trade. In this unit, you’ll read about the history of cultured pearls and what makes each variety unique. With this knowledge, you can steer your customers toward the pearl necklace that’s perfect for them.

See Lessons (5)
Unit 3 - Introduction to Non-Nacreous Pearls

Have you heard of non-nacreous pearls? These unusual gems are not cultured, they’re 100% nature-made. That makes them some of the rarest around! Learn how to identify four types of non-nacreous pearls and what makes them unique and stunning choices for jewelry.

See Lessons (5)
Unit 4 - How to Choose a Pearl

Buying pearls is not always straightforward. Unlike diamonds and colored gemstones, the four Cs don’t apply. Learn about the quality factors for choosing a pearl to help your customers understand what they’re paying for. And, for pearl engagement rings, learn about beautiful designs to highlight and protect this unique center stone. Finally, read about proper pearl care and tips to help your customers keep their pearls looking beautiful for years to come.

See Lessons (4)
Unit 5 - Distinguishing Natural, Cultured, and Imitation Pearls

Natural and cultured pearls may look the same from afar, but their value differs dramatically. A good set of faux pearls can look great at an even lower price. Learning how to distinguish between them will be useful for buying at estate sales and unknown vendors. Plus, you can show your clients how to tell them apart, giving them more confidence in your product.

See Lessons (2)
Unit 6 - Grading Pearls

To properly grade pearls, you’ll have to go beyond the basics. In this unit, you’ll learn how to evaluate a pearl’s unique properties and write a standard appraisal or identification report. You’ll also read about numerous pearl treatments and how they affect a pearl’s appearance and price.

See Lessons (2)

Frequently Asked Questions

Will I be assigned an instructor for the course?

The course is self-study. This means that all of the material is on our website, and the burden is on the student to follow the Syllabus to learn the material. 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 the quiz to earn the Pearl Badge.

Won’t the self-study model be difficult if I’m a beginner?

For beginners we recommend following our structured Syllabus, however you may study the material in any order that suits you.

What is required to pass?

In order to earn the Pearl Badge you must pass the quiz at the end of the course with a score of 87% or better. You may retake the exam an unlimited number of times until you pass.

How is the quiz administered?

All examinations are administered via online test-taking software accessed via your password-protected account on the IGS website.

Can I see a sample of the test questions?

Sure! We have some sample gemology questions from the actual IGS Professional Gemologist certification exam. This should give you a sense of the types of questions that we ask in our course exams and quizzes.

How long should it take me to complete the course?

The time it takes you to read all of the material and take the quiz depends on your level of interest, motivation, and time commitment. It can be done in a day, a week, or a month (or longer depending on your schedule!).

How does the IGS Pearl Course compare with those offered by the GIA or similar organizations?

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 of study offered by the GIA should be your first choice. The IGS courses were created for everyone else. The founder of IGS and original author of the Professional Gemologist 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. Donald Clark believed that the problem stemmed not from the well-meaning lapidary sharing his incomplete knowledge, but rather that there wasn’t anywhere to learn gem identification, short of taking (what was back then) 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 but who do not have the resources to attend GIA.

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Price: $49.95 USD
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