No one loves gems more than our very own Louise. We caught up with her and asked her about her passion and asked her what drew her to the profession, and ultimately working at Gatwards of Hitchin. Here’s what she said...
WHERE DOES A GEM EXPERT LIKE YOU GET THEIR PASSION FROM?
As a child I loved collecting seashells, shiny pebbles and stones. Even huge rocks, some I couldn’t even carry! That hasn’t changed; I really enjoy examining diamonds and gemstones especially their varied colours, cuts and inclusions. They’re fascinating.
I was always thrilled to bring home interesting souvenirs from my adventures along cliffs tops or when beach combing, and still am. I’m also at my most happiest when I’m searching through Egyptian bazaars for synthetic sapphire (with sellers always trying to tell me it was real sapphire). But I knew better as I was studying for qualifications at the time and wasn’t going to be fooled. I was always excited to get it home to test it.
WHAT DO ALL THOSE LETTERS AFTER YOUR NAME MEAN?
I studied for my Retail Jewellers Diploma (R.J.Dip) and also took a course in silversmithing which I enjoyed, making a solid twisted silver bangle which I still wear.
FGA stands for ‘Fellow of the Gemmological Association’. The Gemmological Association of Great Britain, or Gem-A, is the world’s longest established provider of gem and jewellery education. Their Diploma evolved from the first UK gem course ever proposed in 1908, and they now teach in seven different languages and 26 countries. Their accreditation is recognised across the globe and I’m proud to be part of their international community of gem professionals and enthusiasts.
During these unprecedented times of the Covid-19 lockdown I’ve been using my time to keep up-to-date with gemmological association's webinars and studying their publication ‘Gems&Jewellery’.
WHY DID YOU WANT TO COME AND WORK AT GATWARDS?
I have worked in high-end jewellery businesses for 36 years including in Bond Street, Marble Arch and Piccadilly, and then closer to home in Hertfordshire since having children.
I joined Gatwards just over 11 years ago. I feel my colleagues are my extended family and we’re a great team. Between us we have years of experience and I love being involved in buying from our amazing designers which is also useful when helping customers.
My amazing role within our beautiful shop is to help customers and give them the Gatwards experience. Jewellery is a very personal thing. They may be thinking of making a special purchase or wanting expert advice on altering or repairing a treasured item. I can help them find that perfect piece of jewellery from our extensive stock, or speak to one of our designers about creating something perhaps a bit more bespoke.
My other role which I love is creating seasonal eye-catching displays with our beautiful jewellery of all values.
ARE THERE ANY ETHICAL ISSUES AROUND GEMMOLOGY?
One of the most important ethical issues for me in gemmology today is 'organics' especially ivory. The ivory act is a blessing but could go further. It was updated at the end of 2019 and I believe it states that elephant ivory, regardless of age, is prohibited, however there are exemptions.
Rather than destroying the ivory I think it should be donated to a teaching centre like the Gemmological Association or a museum.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING YOU’VE LEARNT ABOUT GEMS?
I think it’s when reflected light produces a six or 12 rayed star in cabochon cut stones.
The star occurs when sufficient needle shaped inclusions are orientated to specific crystallographic directions. A bit technical I know, but these photos help illustrate it - these rare shimmering effects can be seen in sapphires, rubies or zircon and other gems.
WHAT MIGHT BE YOUR NEXT GEM INVESTMENT?
I recently couldn’t resist an amazing aquamarine and diamond ring that I have had my eye on for a while. My next purchase will hopefully be an opal and diamond pendant for my birthday. I’m a lucky girl.
WHAT WOULD MAKE THE PERFECT GIFT FOR A GEMMOLOGIST?
Apart from a loop to examine gems in minute detail, I think something like star sapphire would be the perfect (hint hint)!
If you love gems and rings as much as Louise does, you might like to see our gem stone collection here »
For more information on The Gemmological Association of Great Britain, please visit https://gem-a.com (21 Ely Place, London, EC1N 6TD. Telephone: 0207 404 3334).