A gem worker is someone who fulfills a pivotal role in the jewelry industry. He or she evaluates the quality of precious gems and diamonds used in industrial settings or by private clients. The position also involves fabricating, finishing, and evaluating gem and diamond quality.
What does a Gem Worker do?
Duties of a gem worker include:
Examining gem surfaces and internal structures, using polariscopes, refractometers, microscopes, and other optical instruments, to differentiate between stones, to identify rare specimens, or to detect flaws, defects, or peculiarities affecting gem values
Examining gems during processing to ensure accuracy of angles and positions of cuts or bores, using magnifying glasses, loupes, or shadowgraphs
Estimating wholesale and retail value of gems, following pricing guides, market fluctuations, and other relevant economic factors
Assigning polish, symmetry, and clarity grades to stones, according to established grading systems
Identifying and documenting stones' clarity characteristics, using plot diagrams
Advising customers and others on the best use of gems to create attractive jewelry items
Examining diamonds or gems to ascertain the shape, cut, and width of cut stones, or to select the cuts that will result in the biggest, best quality stones
Immersing stones in prescribed chemical solutions to determine specific gravities and key properties of gemstones or substitutes
Securing gems or diamonds in holders, chucks, dops, lapidary sticks, or blocks for cutting, polishing, grinding, drilling, or shaping
Holding stones, gems, dies, or styluses against rotating plates, wheels, saws, or slitters to cut, shape, slit, grind, or polish them
Dismantling lapping, boring, cutting, polishing, and shaping equipment and machinery to clean and lubricate it
Selecting shaping wheels for tasks, and mix and apply abrasives, bort, or polishing compounds
Measuring sizes of stones' bore holes and cuts to ensure adherence to specifications, using precision measuring instruments
Sorting rough diamonds into categories based on shape, size, color, and quality
Placing stones in clamps on polishing machines and polish facets of stones, using felt-covered or canvas-covered polishing wheels and polishing compounds such as tripoli and rouge
Locating and marking drilling or cutting positions on stones or dies, using diamond chips and power hand tools
Replacing, and sharpening blades, drills, and plates
Splitting gems along pre-marked lines to remove imperfections, using blades and jewelers' hammers
Regulating the speed of revolutions and reciprocating actions of drilling mechanisms
Securing stones in metal mountings, using solder
Lapping girdles on rough diamonds, using diamond girdling lathes
Regrinding drill points, and advance drill cutting points according to specifications for channel depths and shapes
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Gem workers may manufacture and make jewelry, work in a lab fashioning specialty items, or even own their own stores. According to the Gemological Institute of America, approximately one-third of all gem workers are self-employed. These experienced gem workers have a lifetime of knowledge at their disposal, and many precious stone workers opt to open their own businesses in order to share their talents with the world.