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Gems and Jewelry

Becoming a Certified Gemologist

Michael Education May 27, 2018 at 6:26 pm
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Welcome! For those of you who don’t know me my name is Michael Robledo, and here’s a background story of how I came to have a dream in Gemology (

I first came into contact with the world of precious stones during my semester abroad in Paris, France. While I was there I took a course in Luxury Brand Management. During this course my professor touched on the subject of Tanzanite, a gem rarer than diamonds!

Tanzanite and Sterling Silver

Once back in reality and only a semester away from graduating, I began job searching. I knew I wanted to work in the luxury industry so I focused my job search in that field. While doing so, I came across that many of the companies specialized in jewelry had “Graduate Gemologist, GIA” as a requirement. After a quick Google search, I came across The Gemological Institute of America (GIA).  In just a few minutes I knew that GIA had the graduate program I’ve been looking for that I didn’t even know existed! Unfortunately, the cost of the program is high and I didn’t know anyone at that time that could validate that the cost and time was worth it. So I left that dream in the back burner and instead pursued a different one, living and working in Mexico City.

Emeralds, Sapphires, and Sterling Silver

I was in Mexico City for two years, and during that time a series of events happened that made it obvious that a career in gemology was right for me. One of those events happened during a weekend trip to the “Magical Town” of Bernal (a term for towns in Mexico that have conserved their rich history and traditions). Bernal is a small colonial town known for having one of the tallest monoliths in the world. Also, legend has it that this monolith has giant Amethyst crystals in its core that create a magnetic field and due to this people there live late into their 90s and is also the cause of many legends and sightings. A true magical town?

Peña de Bernal

While walking the town’s square we came across a local jewelry store owned by a family that has been in the business for generations. After spending a considerable time looking at all they had to offer and asking a million questions about their jewelry, the subject came up that I wanted to study gemology. To my surprise the owner told me that one of his sons had studied gemology in Barcelona, Spain. His son then proceeded to tell me all about his experience studying gemology and that if I had the opportunity to study at GIA to not think about it twice, because it is in fact the leading institute in the world to be certified from as a gemologist. And there it was, the answer that I had been looking for all this time. It doesn’t end there though. It turns out that they had some loose gems, and among those they had a Tanzanite! Immediately I was drawn to it because of its beauty and from my fond memory of learning about it in Paris.  I ended up splurging on it and collaborating with the jeweler in the design of a bracelet in which this gem would be placed (this bracelet is featured in the video below).  To me it all came full circle. Maybe the town of Bernal is magical after all.

So what is my dream? Well first it’s to study at GIA and become a certified gemologist so that I can have the technical knowledge that the jewelry industry requires, which is what this project is for. But the dream wouldn’t stop there. After living in Mexico and truly experiencing its culture and history, in a future I want to share that to the rest of the world through jewelry. Below is a video I created to give a glimpse of what I want to do in the future. This video is 100 percent Mexican. From the artisan jewelers, the locations that inspired the designs of the bracelets, to even the talent (my cousin and I) behind the camera and production of the video.

The video first starts with scenes that give a glimpse into the process that a jewelry piece could go through. The second half of the video features two bracelets and the inspiration behind them. Both these bracelets touch on the subject of the duality in Mexico City for its modern buildings alongside nature. Through the hues of the Tanzanite, this bracelet embodies the blue-purple flowers of the Jacaranda tree that can be found throughout the city, leaving carpets of flowers on the ground. The silver and reflective properties of the Soumaya Museum are present by setting the gem on a highly polished sterling silver bracelet. The second bracelet consists of two jaguars, each with a different set of gems as eyes. This was done on purpose to represent duality which is embraced in the city such as in the district of Santa Fe, where skyscrapers and La Mexicana park marvel at each other across from one another.

Thank you for your time and I hope you enjoyed the video! I would very much appreciate your donation, it all adds up.

-Michael Robledo

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