Professional Jeweler Archive: Education Rules

May 2004

Adventures in Professionalism


Education Rules

For this appraiser and educator, life is an ongoing lesson


Over the past few years, I’ve given talks around the world on everything from the 4Cs to synthetic diamonds. I’ve spoken about diamonds to the Canadian government, pawnbrokers groups, Gemological Institute of America Alumni chapters and more. I’ve held a 102-ct. D flawless diamond worth $20 million in New York City and hefted a 1,200-ct. rough diamond at the De Beers Diamond Trading Co. offices in London. I’ve researched high-pressure/high-temperature-treated diamonds, saw diamonds irradiated in someone’s home (they named the machine “Elvis”) and appeared on a History Channel program. I’ve met the most incredible and interesting people along the way.

I should tell you I’m writing this now from my temporary base at the University of Nantes in France. I am one of two students enrolled in a three-month university diploma program in scientific gemology called the D.U.G or Diplome D’Université De Gemmologie.

My professor is Dr. Emmanuel Fritsch, a physicist and former manager of research at GIA. In addition to being an extraordinary teacher and gemologist, Emmanuel has a fondness for folksy Texas expressions, which are interesting to hear when spoken with a French accent and which make the day more enjoyable.

The D.U.G syllabus begins where classical gemology ends. Intensive classes are devoted to gemological theory as well as instrument theory and technique. Students put these theoretical concepts to the test during lab sessions with highly technical instruments, some of which cost upward of a million dollars.

Gemology and science really come to life when you see the surface of a pearl or the structure of opal at 100,000x magnification with a scanning electron microscope. Wonderfully, I’ve had many “ah-ha!” moments during the program as formerly perplexing concepts suddenly become clear.

Aspiring graduates at Nantes must select a personal research project and complete a minithesis that will be defended in front of a jury of university professors. My research project is on the morphology of diamond, a subject of great interest to the diamond industry.

This experience has energized me and arouses my passion for gemstones and gemology. It also has commercial applications to my business and convinces me science is the key to the challenges that confront the gemstone industry.

A continuous commitment to education was the catalyst for positive change in my career. Each of my career growth spurts seems to have been marked by a significant learning experience. And that’s the main point here.

I strongly encourage you to take advantage of the educational opportunities in this industry. By doing so, you’ll advance in your career and have lots more fun along the way. You’ll also help to improve the image and integrity of our industry. And that’s exciting.

– By Gregory E. Sherman, G.G., F.G.A., D.G.A

Gregory E. Sherman, G.G., F.G.A., D.G.A., I.S.A., is a credentialed gemologist and jewelry appraiser with two appraisal labs in New Jersey and an office in Sacramento, CA, where he teaches the FGA gemology program. He is a graduate gemologist of GIA and a fellow of the Gemmological Association of Great Britain. E-mail: GregESherman@cs.com.

Copyright © 2004 by Bond Communications