Since the Industrial Revolution era, there’s been a symbiosis, but also a conflict, between man and machine in the workplace. There are so many hotly debated questions. Do machines really improve working conditions? Or do they make people second fiddle? Will technology force people out of the workplace? For the diamond industry, can technology ever replace the human touch of the gemologist? To answer this last question, let’s begin by exploring the profession of gemology.
Gemology: Science…and Art
First and foremost, gemology is a science. It is the scientific study of the origins and properties of gemstones – natural or artificially made. However, the connection of gemstones to jewelry and art makes it much more than a pure scientific pursuit. For centuries, gemology has been closely tied to jewelry design. Via the prolific gem lab testing industry, gemologists are also an integral part of the sales industry for diamonds and gemstones. Although diamonds have many industrial and scientific uses, the fact remains that gemologists are immersed in the world of beauty and aesthetics, with ties to decidedly non-scientific fields, including mythology, healing, and theories of human behavior.
Technology Doing the Work of Gemology
One of the core industries of gemology is of course the manufacture of diamonds and gemstones. Throughout history, the production of diamonds and gemstones has been a manual, human-driven profession. It is only in the last half century that computerized technology has had an impact on the industry. In the past thirty years, technology has driven the diamond and gemstone manufacturing industry to incredible heights of precision and efficiency. The development of advanced rough planning technology has increased the yield of polished diamond from rough diamonds, improving profitability for diamond manufacturers. Up and coming technology for diamond clarity and color grading may well revolutionize the diamond grading industry as well, with the world’s first fully automated grading devices at higher levels of accuracy that can be achieved by humans.
Balancing Two Forces – Gemology & Technology
There’s no doubt that technology has driven huge strides in the advancement of the gemological industry. Before cut measurement and analysis technology, diamond cutting was far less standardized and accurate than today. The cut of antique diamonds is evidence of how much diamond cutting has changed, and how the art of diamond cutting has been perfected with technology. While technology can certainly impact the diamond’s perfection in terms of cut and light performance, there is no discounting the emotional and psychological aspect of gemology.
Diamonds and gemstones are not just beautiful rocks. They are deeply connected to love, commitment, family heirlooms and social status. No technology can ever compensate for the human understanding that a gemologist brings to the profession. However, technology can play a significant role in grading and presenting the diamond’s unique story, which is the key to selling diamonds. As long as the emotional connection to gemstones remains, technology will never replace the gemologist.