GUEST COLUMN – My personal journey to break into the gem and jewellery industry as a late starter


Heather Davies, gemmology student at Birmingham City University (BCU), relates how she overcame challenges in order to pursue her dream of becoming a full-time gemmologist.

How do you get an entry level job that requires experience?

This is a question I’ve asked myself many times since beginning my journey into the world of gemmology. At 27, I left my career in the funeral industry looking for something that felt more me.

I was strongly attracted to gems and jewellery. When I launched upon my degree in gemmology and jewellery studies at BCU, I felt confident that I could walk into a well-paid job… I’d have a degree as proof that I was a proficient gemmologist and that would be enough to guarantee my future.

Unfortunately, not quite. Since realising that just getting my foot in the door of any company as a gemmologist means I’d need to start at entry level or even lower… a ‘tea girl’… I felt disappointed.

How am I, today a 30-year-old wife and mother of two, supposed to begin my career? I need to provide for my family. In my previous job I had held a managerial position – I didn’t realise I would have to take a step down.

How could gemmology, something I love so much and to which I had dedicated countless hours, seem like such a mistake in terms of career development?

Many of my peers are out there now, taking unpaid internships, working in jewellers and taking opportunities that are unavailable to me due to my commitments as a parent.

I knew I needed to do something to get a head start.

It began with my LinkedIn profile. I wrote from the heart about how I had no experience or background in the industry, how I loved the history of jewellery and gemmology and how in the future I hoped I’d be able to write a documentary one day.

I had absolutely no expectations of what I would get out of my heartfelt profile: I was astounded by the immediate deluge of messages that I received, offering me support.

Gemmology is a warm and inclusive career that does reward a thirst for knowledge and one’s determination to succeed.

The encouragement and guidance I have encountered have been unfathomable: Yes, I may need to start as a tea girl, but my most valuable asset is myself and my qualities as a person, not just what’s written on my CV.

Industry experts in the field of gemmology, valuation, jewellery design, and education, have given up their time showing me how to succeed in this field. I doubt many other industries could boast of that.

My advice to anybody starting out in gemmology is to go for it in spite of the obstacles that lie ahead!

Yes, there will be hurdles and you might need to start from the bottom, but the gemmology world is the most wonderful community of like-minded people who will do anything to help, guide and nurture those of us who are prepared to work hard, be flexible, dynamic and always hold on to that enthusiasm that we started out with – a unique respect of all that is gemmology and jewellery.

So to answer my initial question, how? Get your name out there, be honest and just be yourself!

Heather Davies