Gemmology is the science concerned with gemstones and other materials used for personal adornment. It is a scientific discipline that has evolved from mineralogy and geology.
21st century gemmology involves the scientific study of gemstones (diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald etc), ornamental materials (lapis lazuli, malachite), biological gem materials (amber, coral, ivory), and their synthetics and imitations. These materials are identified using a combination of established theoretical knowledge, specialised gem testing instruments, and a comprehensive range of gem testing techniques.With advances in technology, bringing with it a greater number of imitations, synthetics and gem treatments, the academic and practical challenges being offered to the working gemmologist are ever increasing.
Gemmology is not a new science; long before the GAA was formed in 1945 the world’s scientists were fascinated by the special properties possessed by the gemstones.
For millennia, civilised man has been captivated by the beauty, mystery, rarity and value of what became known as (precious) gemstones. These much sought after objects of beauty and desire included diamond, ruby, sapphire, emerald and pearl. While the adjectives precious and semi- precious are no longer used by gemmologists (CIBJO in 1955 termed them all precious), today over 150 special minerals that posses the desirable attributes of beauty, rarity and durability are termed gemstones. It is the scientific study of these very special minerals that forms the basis of the science of gemmology.
Over recent years ever inventive man has duplicated many of nature’s masterpieces and in the process created laboratory grown (synthetic) and very effective look alikes (imitations). In addition, numerous techniques have been discovered for enhancing the beauty of lower quality gemstones. The identification of all this material offers a continuing challenge to the science of gemmology and gemmologists.
Gemmology is a science that is expanding at an exponential rate.