The practice of appraising diamonds and other fine jewels requires proper training and education. From start to finish, the career path to become a diamond appraiser may take up to five years. In addition, to be hired as a diamond appraiser it is necessary to have a background that reflects a well-rounded experience.
The first step on a career path to become a diamond appraiser is to earn a degree in gemology from an accredited academic institute. This course of study will usually take several years to complete, depending on how many courses are taken per semester, and will ultimately result in a Graduate Gemologist (GG) or Fellow of Gemological Association (FGA) degree. There are several institutes across the US, UK, Europe, and Asia that award these designations, and both are recognized worldwide. A GG or FGA program will provide an education and training regarding the identification of gemstones and the grading of diamonds. It will not, however, suffice to begin work as a diamond appraiser.
During or immediately after earning this diploma, it will be necessary to gain a position working on the retail side of the jewelry industry, quite possibly counting as credit toward an internship that several GG and FGA schools require prior to graduation. A retail position provides exposure to all aspects of the diamond and jewelry business, from construction to jewelry setting to appraisals. Many employers will not consider a candidate for diamond appraiser work without this prior experience.
During this time, it is important to earn a certified appraiser certificate. This certification allows the work scope to expand to include fine jewels including diamonds. In order to earn this certificate, it will be necessary to join an appraisal organization and complete the required coursework as outlined by the specific organization. Examples of appraisal organizations include the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers (NAJA), the American Society of Appraisers (ASA), the American Gem Society (AGS), and the International Society of Appraisers (ISA).
It is difficult to become a diamond appraiser or an appraiser of fine jewels without the combination of an appraiser certification together with the degree in gemology. Many appraisal organizations and gemology programs offer distance learning coursework in addition to traditional classroom teaching. This allows flexibility for those who do not wish to pursue this career path full-time or who do not wish to relocate.
In order to become a diamond appraiser, many experts in the field recommend seeking an internship with an established certified appraiser. Not only can an internship like this provide valuable hands-on experience, it is a good opportunity to learn the ins and outs of the diamond and fine jewel appraisal business. Other expertise considered valuable by those in the industry includes some bench or jewelry-making knowledge, as well as a background in art and jewelry history.