For a career of sparkle and lustre -- or, at least, of judging them -- an individual may consider a livelihood as a gemologist. Gemologists appraise precious stones, using expert knowledge to determine the origin, cut and worth of diamonds, emeralds, rubies and other collectible gems. They use specialized mechanical and computerized machinery to grade stones and make reports certifying their authenticity.
For the purposes of its survey of national employment trends carried out in May 2010, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics categorized gemologists alongside other precious stone and metal workers such as diamond graders, polishers, appraisers and jewelers. It concluded that the mean annual salary across this professional grouping was $38,520, equivalent to an hourly pay rate of $18.52. Practitioners within the top 10 percent of earners received more than $61,380 a year, while those in the corresponding bottom bracket achieved salaries of less than $19,460. At the time of publication, the Indeed website put the average yearly wage within gemology at $33,000.
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Pay by Industry
The largest number of gemologists and other precious stone workers are employed, according to the bureau's figures, within jewelry, luggage and leather goods stores. The bureau listed the mean yearly wage within this sector of the industry as $41,590. Within other miscellaneous manufacturing, the rate was $35,150, while individuals employed within specialized design services earned a mean of $32,440. Among the highest-paying sectors of the industry were professional, scientific and technical services -- for instance, a gemologist working as a consultant -- in which the mean salary was $60,650; and coating, engraving, heat treating and allied activities, which was listed at $46,220.
Pay by Location
Location can also influence the contents of a gemologist's pay packet. The bureau listed Connecticut as the state in which a gemologist, as well as other precious stone workers, was likely to receive the highest wages, with a mean of $53,860. Minnesota and New Jersey were also listed as lucrative locales, with respective means of $48,490 and $45,660. Rhode Island and Florida had similar pay rates -- $37,340 and $36,760 – while New Mexico was amongst the lowest-paying states, with a mean of just $28,660.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects to see a rise of around 5 percent in employment opportunities for precious stone workers of all kinds, including gemologists, over the decade from 2008 to 2018. This compares with a growth rate of between 7 and 13 percent posted for the country as a whole across all occupations. As such, gemologists should see wage levels for their profession remain steady over the coming years, particularly as there should be a decent number of vacancies given the large number of practitioners expected to retire through 2018.