How to Become a Gemologist with GIA

Let’s cozy up with Cathryn Ramirez, Executive Director of Alumni Development and Continuing Education at GIA. Her passion for gemstones and jewelry began at a young age, as she loved working in her family’s jewelry business. After asking her dad what she could do to pursue this passion, he recommended that the best thing she could do for herself was get a graduate gemologist degree at GIA, something he had done in the 60s.




After completing her GIA education, Cathryn decided she wasn’t quite ready to return back to her family’s business, instead landing a job at Tiffany & Co. She didn’t expect to stay as long as she did—28 years to be exact. Tiffany & Co was a place where she could learn and grow her gemology expertise, from which she then transitioned to working at GIA.


GIA is the founder of the 4 Cs for diamond rating, which is an international grading standard used by retailers all around the world. It was created as a lab to identify and grade gemstones, as well as a school to offer training for anyone interested in learning about gemstones and jewelry manufacturing. At GIA, you can learn about all aspects of gemstones, from grading to manufacturing. Cathryn explains how GIA is unique for its constant research—they are constantly studying gem treatments, lab grown gemstones, as well as other facets of gemstones, as the industry is constantly evolving.


Cathryn notes some of the biggest trends and shifts she’s seen in the industry. One change she notes is how women used to be reluctant to buy jewelry for themselves. However now, jewelry buying has evolved to focus on the individual purchaser rather than as a gift. Another change is the comfort people have buying jewelry online without seeing it in person or trying it on in person, as technology has really helped people see what they are getting before purchasing.


One big topic of this podcast is also lab grown diamonds, which is a new trend. Cathryn notes how in the last couple of years, there has been an increase in consumer acceptance for these new lab grown diamonds. What is important to maintain in the jewelry industry is transparency and trust from diamond retailers, so consumers know exactly what they are buying. GIA introduced a new separate diamond grading scale for lab grown diamonds, as they differ from natural diamonds in terms of rarity—it can take only months to grow a diamond in a lab, as compared to millions of years for natural grown diamonds.


Every diamond has a story—and we are so happy to have been able to discuss diamonds with Cathryn Ramirez! Please check out if you are interested in learning more about the work GIA does.


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