Gemological Institute of America (GIA), the gem and jewelry industry’s foremost authority and prestigious learning institution for the past 90 years, offers students both online e-learning and in-person education through seven locations worldwide in the areas of gemology, jewelry, and design.
Interest in e-learning, particularly since the pandemic hit, has grown. Online learning offers students the convenience of studying at their own pace, wherever there is Wi-Fi—and they can receive help with their studies from instructors who are accessible by email or phone. Students who complete the Jewelry Essentials, Diamond Essentials, and Colored Stone Essentials courses can earn the Applied Jewelry Professional (AJP) diploma completely online.
“The pandemic forced us to reflect and rethink GIA’s educational programs,” said Duncan Pay, GIA senior vice president of education and chief academic officer. “We focused our outreach on Distance Education and have established safety precautions for on-campus classes. We are seeing positive trends in the jewelry industry, and recovery is on the way. Our mission remains as important as ever, to provide people in the trade with access to education.”
While much of GIA’s education staff were moved off-site initially, through technological and safety improvements teams of instructors have been able to teach on-site again. “We’ve made a lot of progress, and education today is just as vibrant as it was pre-pandemic,” said Pay.
The GIA Graduate Gemologist, Graduate Diamonds, and Graduate Colored Stones diploma programs are offered both on-campus through a full-time program and online via Distance Education. Distance Education students complete their studies online as well as in person with hands-on, practical lab classes that can be taken at a GIA campus.
Online learning, which allows people to study from anywhere in the world, has long been the choice of international students. Lotanna Amina Okpukpara, GIA graduate gemologist and founder and creative director of Mina Stones in Abuja, Nigeria, said, “Being able to study and work at the same time through GIA Distance Education, while going at my own pace, was really convenient for me.”
Brenda Harwick, GIA senior manager of on-campus instruction, noted that students are excited about being back on campus. “While online education makes a tremendous difference, there’s also something special about on-campus studies,” she said. “In person, students come to network, meet people, and make truly lifelong connections.”
In-person classes allow students to earn their professional credentials in six months or less at GIA campuses around the world, including in California, New York, London, Mumbai, Bangkok, Hong Kong, and Taipei. Of course, the campuses follow strict pandemic protocols, including keeping class sizes small, utilizing plexiglass barriers, adhering to cleaning standards, requiring the wearing of masks, and instituting social distancing requirements.
GIA’s long-standing reputation in the industry has made it the institution of choice for many to study gemology, jewelry design, computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing, and how to make and repair jewelry.
“Nothing can beat the head start GIA gives you—having your Graduate Gemologist diploma allows you to hit the ground running,” said Sean Dunn, GIA graduate gemologist and vice president of J.R. Dunn Jewelers in Morehead City, N.C. “I had something to offer employers immediately.”