The many facets of a gemologist

by Rebecca Tassell

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While on a class field trip to the Crystals exhibit at La Specola museum, I had the opportunity to interview my gemology professor, Chiara Masini. A fitting location for an interview with a gemologist! Prof. Masini started teaching at LdM three years ago. She is a treasure chest of knowledge and skill when it comes to gemology, so we are very lucky to have her as our instructor.

Since she was a child, Prof. Masini has been at the heart of the Florentine jewelry world: the Ponte Vecchio. Her father worked as a stone-setter in his workshop right on the famed bridge, and she would often go into work with him, learning the trade from a very young age. As her passion grew, Prof. Masini set off to study at the International Gemological Institute of Italy, followed by the Gemological Institute of America in Vicenza. Today, she has her own workshop on the Oltrarno, just over the Ponte Vecchio, where she tirelessly grades the stones she has bought, and will later sell to jewellers.

When asked what her favorite part of the field is, she responds without a moment’s hesitation, laughing: “diamonds!” Why? They are a “beauty without color.” For Prof. Masini diamonds are the purest stones. When analyzing a diamond, you want to see perfection, meaning there should be no internal or external faults with the stone.

Prof. Masini’s advice to anyone looking to study Gemology would be:

Study – study – study! The field of gemology is just like medicine or technology, meaning that you have to stay up-to-date on the latest findings, because things change every few years.

Stay local. Many gemological schools will hire their students upon graduation to work in labs making stone certificates, so if you want to analyze stones it’s a good idea to check for any positions within your school.

Network. It is difficult to start a company on your own, so it’s important to form connections and contacts. A good idea is to start an apprenticeship to always watch and learn the trade.

My own tip to fellow students, current and prospective, would be to keep your eyes healthy! It takes a lot of work to find any tiny details in gemstones, even with the help of a microscope. Also, be sure to constantly look at and evaluate stones to train your eyes. New techniques for making synthetic stones arise non-stop, and it’s very important to be able to detect them, especially if you want to become a stone buyer.

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Becca Tassell is in the Jewelry Design certificate program at Lorenzo de’ Medici. She graduated from Brown University in 2012 and was working in New York City for three years in fashion E-Commerce. After completing LdM’s Jewelry Design program Becca plans to work as a jewelry designer (preferably in Europe) before starting her own company.