Learn About The Gemological Institute of America

The Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is a public benefit nonprofit institute based in Carlsbad, California, and the world’s foremost authority on gemology. Founded in 1931 by Robert M. Shipley, GIA is powered by its goals to educate, research, and protect the gem and jewelry buying public by setting global quality standards. 


Since launching the first gemological education program in the country in 1931, GIA has served more than 350,000 students with the pinnacle of gemological education. Students of GIA receive in-depth education on diamonds, colored gemstones, and pearls, among offerings on the many facets of the jewelry industry. Learning how to distinguish natural gems from treated, synthetic, or imitation gems is a crucial part of the learning experience. As the universally trusted source of gemological knowledge, GIA often customizes its curriculum for corporate training programs for employers such as Tiffany and Pandora. It is also sometimes called upon to provide crucial gem knowledge to law enforcement agencies like the FBI. GIA defines the best practices for evaluating gemstones, and was the creator of the famed four C’s of diamond quality (carat weight, color grade, clarity grade, and cut grade). No matter what sector of the industry you’re in, GIA’s education courses are part of the most prestigious program for anyone serious about entering the jewelry industry. 

GIA is also a leader in the developing research of gems. From their globetrotting field gemologists to their peer-reviewed academic journal, GIA researchers, developers, and innovators are the top of their field and highly respected around the world. Using advanced technological instruments and techniques such as loupes, microscopes, and laser ablation inductively coupled plasma mass spectrometry (LA-ICP-MA, a technique which provides high precision elemental analysis of solid material), GIA is constantly learning and discovering new ways to identify complex gem materials. 


In addition to providing vital skill development through educational offerings and world-class research, GIA also makes valuable efforts to give back to the communities near and around the gem trade. The nonprofit has partnered with the Nelson Mandela Foundation to build libraries in South Africa, and works toward empowering women in India through education. GIA also holds a global leadership program with Harvard Business School, and has given $8 million in gem education scholarships since 2010 for students to work toward their pursuing their professional goals. In 2014, GIA launched GemKids, an interactive online website for kids to learn about gemology and geology, adapted from GIA’s Junior Gemologist Program. These initiatives and more are part of fulfilling GIA’s mission to provide quality education about all kinds of gems and the jewelry industry and upholding the highest standards of integrity in the field. 


Learn more about GIA and their history here. No matter where you are in the jewelry industry, there’s something valuable to be gained from GIA. Happy learning!