Choosing the best gemology courses involves investigating many programs and choosing the one that best fits one's needs. There actually are relatively few gemology courses that are considered prestigious, and picking a course from a well-recognized organization is a great way to ensure that potential employers will recognize one’s qualifications. Courses that end in certification of some type typically are good investments, particularly when the certificate is standard. Many gemology courses are designed to be taken at home, which can be appealing to students who are working, but taking courses in a physical location might be more motivating and can provide valuable hands-on experience.
There are gemology courses available for all levels of students, and deciding which level is appropriate is the first step when choosing which program is best. For hobbyists and other individuals who are not planning a career involving gems, short courses that teach the basics of gem identification might be best. Professionals generally require programs that end in certification or a diploma and teach the details of this craft. People who already have certification typically are best served by advanced courses that teach unusual skills or that keep the professional up to date in current technologies.
Most gemology courses focus on identifying stones, and some focus on grading stones as well. Practice on actual stones is an essential aspect of any course. This is one reason why courses in physical locations are often considered superior to distance-education courses. Although the theory of gemstone identification can be taught online, handling stones is also important. Choosing courses that have a lab component is a good way to ensure that a person will be fully prepared for work in this field.
A background in mineralogy is useful for a gemologist but not strictly necessary for certification. Having a degree in mineralogy with a focus on gems can be a great way to be more appealing in the professional world. Generally, which courses are most appropriate depend on what one hopes to do with the skills learned in the courses. There are some courses that focus specifically on making jewelry, and others might be more focused on rating gemstones for insurance purposes.
One major consideration to keep in mind when choose gemology courses is the cost of the course and how it is administered. Many programs of this type are quite expensive and might involve travel to the school. Choosing a program that is close to where one lives not only cuts down on costs, it also might introduce the student to professionals in the area. Looking at where the graduates of a specific program work can be helpful, because this reflects the prestige of the program and the quality of the education provided.