The AIGS (Asian Institute of Gemological Science) is a gemology school located in Bangkok, Thailand. I took the Diploma of Gemology course starting in March 2012. I packing up my life here in Australia for most of 2012 and relocated to Bangkok. The experience was amazing and I wanted to share some insights into what to expect and why I would recommend considering this gem school.
About The Asian Institute Of Gemological Science (AIGS)
The Asian Institute of Gemological Sciences was founded in 1978 as South East Asia’s first International Gem School. The first educational facility devoted exclusively to the study of gemology. Its major aim is two-fold: to provide professional training for those planning to become, or already involved in the gem and jewelry trade, as well as to expand the knowledge and appreciation of gemstones among member of the general public.
No matter what the field of endeavor, truth is best attained at the source, through first-hand experience. For over 2000 years, Asia has been regarded as the source of the world’s finest gemstones. Thus, the location of AIGS in Bangkok, the colored stone capital of the world, makes it an ideal place to study about precious stones. From mining of rough gems to the manufacture and sale of finished jewelry, every level of the industry can be encountered in Thailand.
At AIGS, students not only read about gem mining, but are given opportunities to observe it a t first-hand at ruby and sapphire mines of the region. In addition the gems actively mined within the Kingdom’s borders, others gems are brought-in from far and wide for cutting and processing. Emeralds from Colombia, rubies and jade from Burma, sapphires from Sri Lanka, topaz from Brazil and even diamonds from Africa are but a few of the gem materials cut and polished in Thailand. Students can observe the cutting and trading of these gems up close, and in doing so, gain valuable experience not easily gained elsewhere in the world.
The Diploma Of Gemology from the AIGS
The course was 6 moths total.
- 3 Months gem identification
- 1 month Coloured Stone Treatments and Synthetic
- 1 Month coloured stone grading
- 1 Month Diamond Grading
The gem identification course was a perfect way to setup the whole diploma. Every piece of “basic” knowledge I needed in the next 3 courses was provided to me in the 3 months of Gem ID. My teacher, Mr Surachart, just kept drilling into me things I need to know. RI of gems I should know by heart, little tips to look for (bullseye optic figure for quartz for example) and feeling the weight of gemstones in the hand (HEFT). I spent 3 months learning theory of all of the common gems in the market, and then spent the afternoons analysing no less than 1000 different coloured stones. The coloured gem collection in the school is truly amazing. It is one of the best reasons to attend gem ID at AIGS.
Colored Stone Treatments And Synthetics
Next were Colored stone treatments and synthetics. This was taught by Mr Jayesh. What this man doesn’t know about Rubies is not worth knowing. I had so much fun in this class. We had about 200 Rubies / Sapphires to sort through to try and detect different treatments. Again, the collection is impressive. Large 2 – 3 ct unheated Rubies are easy to find in the collection, so it is easy to have 10 unheated Rubies right next to 10 heated Rubies and study the difference. Throw those in with the Spinels and Emeralds and you have all you need to study how gems change under treatment.
Colored Stones Grading and Pricing
Then there was coloured stone grading and pricing. I think this is one of the most important subjects. This was taught by Mr Pattarat who I swear can see more colors than the average person. He would teach us about looking at different parts of the gem to figure out where the colour comes from, what the cut is like and weather the gem could possibly be recut into a more brilliant gem. Add to that the trip to Chanthaburi to the gem markets and visiting a few ex students that are now I the trade and the whole gemstone experience is starting to come together.
Lastly, Diamonds. Not my favourite stone (so I was glad it only went for 1 month) but it is important. This was taught my Ms Sirinee and she runs a Diamond shop in Chinatown. She was very enthusiastic about Diamonds and it made the course a lot of fun. We would study theory, then look at Diamonds for a few hours and calculate (yes that’s right, calculate and measure) the cut quality of real Diamonds. Every Diamond was over 0.35 cts with the largest one being 1.5 cts. Again, the Diamond collection is just incredible.
So sounds pretty good so far right? Well how about a field trip to Sri Lanka that is included in the program. Yep, 3 days visiting gem mines, cutting factories and heating facilities. Of course there is also time to visit the gem markets as well and buy some gems. I think this was one of the best experiences of my life. How many gem dealers can say they have experienced such a thing?
Overall, the course was awesome. The teachers are enthusiastic, knowledgeable and they are in the business. I think this is important, because most students want to know about what is happening in the real world, how much things are costing, what is getting trendy. Or course the teachers don’t teach that, but when you talk to them, the information just flows out. If anyone wants to kow more, I am happy to chat