This time 3 years ago, I couldn't tell you anything about a Ruby or an Emerald other than the fact that one is red and one is green. At school my passion was sport receiving an offer to study Sport Management at Loughborough University. However a month prior to moving away I had a serious knee injury which meant I couldn't do sport for at least 10 months so I decided to defer the university course for the following year. With a year off ahead of me, I was offered to come and work at Gems TV as a producer with my Dad, CEO Steve Bennett.
Whilst producing was something I was enjoying it was still my aim to go to University the next year. This was until, after a few months of producing, my dad offered me the chance to go with him gem hunting for Emeralds in Zambia. This was an opportunity for me not to miss out and after just a few days at the mine, my passion for sport quickly turned into a love affair with gemstones!
Immediately after the trip to Zambia, I spent weeks and weeks reading as many gemmology books I could get my hands on. My passion for gemstones was increasing every day and our next gem hunting trip to Brazil was a huge step in my career within gemmology. Whilst touring around the mines of Brazil, I was introduced to Robert Weldon and Andy Lucas. They were both gemmologists who had studied at the GIA and went on to work within the organisation. They both suggested that I should study to become a gems expert and that there was no better course than the Graduate Gemmologist programme offered at the GIA. Still to this day they are two of my closest friends as I spent a lot of time with them whilst studying in America.
As soon as we were back in the UK, I immediately researched how I could enrol and 3 months later, I was packing my bags and moving to Carlsbad, California, the home of the GIA.
The first two months of studying were based around diamonds and more importantly how to grade diamonds. There were two examinations for diamonds, one written exam on theory of diamonds consisting of 50 questions. To pass this course I had to score 75% or more. To my surprise I passed with a mark of 98%! Second up was the practical exam where we were given 5 diamonds and had to grade these as close as possible to the official GIA report and again we had to achieve more than 75% to pass. After spending two months learning how to grade diamonds, I passed this exam with a mark of 86%. This certified me to become a qualified diamond grader.
The following 5 months were dedicated to coloured stones and Robert and Andy had told me that this part of the course was 5 times more difficult. Again there was a theory and a practical exam, the theory was an exam on 100 questions and once again 75% was the pass mark. After many sleepless nights studying, I passed with a mark of 84%. The final exam of the GG diploma was the most difficult as we had to identify 20 stones and the treatment if possible (some gemstones are near impossible to tell minor treatments) and whether they were synthetic or natural. Unlike all the other exams, we had to get 100% to pass and to become a gemmologist. After a 5 hour exam and 6 nervous hours waiting for results, I am glad to say I passed the final exam! This certified me in becoming a Graduate Gemmologist!
So why does TGGC need a gemmologist in the building? Well I think it helps everybody involved with the company gain confidence in what we are selling. Being involved with the buying team around the world, I can verify gemstones so that we do not get tricked into buying synthetics or gemstones that have been treated and not disclosed. I believe this confidence can be passed down to our customers, to ensure that the customers know they are buying from a company that has a big passion for Genuine Gemstones.
Written by Matt Bennett, GIA G.G., A.J.P | Gems TV Sales Manager
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