The Far East Gemological Institute trains jewelers of all levels.
Contributed by Chng Shi Jie
|CN PHOTO: Geoffery Chow|
It was a sparkling ceremony with a dual purpose on April 15 as Far East Gemological Institute launched its shiny new premises at International Building, and graduated its latest cohort of gemology students. The institute exists to educate and empower both consumers and retailers in the jewelry industry.
Gemology is the science of natural and artificial gemstones.
Among the crowd of 40 were Ho Nai Chuen, President of the Singapore Jewellers Association, Yee Hen Chiong, President of the Diamond exchange of Singapore and Suresh Hathiramani, Vice President of the Diamond Exchange of Singapore.
Tay Thye Sun, founder of Far East Gemological Institute is renowned and respected in the jewelry industry. He started in the trade as a gem dealer, and his interest in gems drove him to study gems, ultimately graduating as a gemologist from the Gemological Institute of America. He started the Institute at the urging of fellow industry professionals.
More than 1,000 students have graduated with certification which is recognized by the Workforce Skills Qualification
“Although you do not need a license or certificate to sell jewelry, many top companies send their employees to me to be trained,” says Tay. Clients include Tiffany & Co., Montblanc, Poh Heng and Lee Hwa. These companies and others like it recognize that today, jewelry buyers are much better-informed than before. The course covers product knowledge and customer service skills—in the sale of jewelry, it is imperative to be able to communicate knowledge effectively to the consumer.
The Workforce Development Agency recognizes the potential for growth in this industry, and is employing Tay’s expertise to help train up workers to fill this gap.
His students span professionals to interested individuals. Michael Koh, founder of jewelry brand Caratell and a graduate says that the knowledge he gained from the institute has been a tremendous help in the selection of materials he uses to create the one-of-a-kind jewelry he is famous for. Barbara, an expatriate working in a local bank and a recent graduate from Tay’s basic course says: “I chanced upon this course online. It has nothing to do with my line of work, but I have learned so much about gems and will definitely be more discerning in my future purchases.”
It is such positive reviews that drives Tay to keep on teaching, researching and contributing to international gemological journals.
Far East Gemological Institute has tied up with PACE academy at Singapore Polytechnic to conduct basic courses in gemology. The institute is also organizing a diploma course by HRDAntwerp, (which represents the Belgian diamond industry). It has also been appointed an official training center for the Gemological Association of Great Britain.
“My research is published in journals all over the world and I am often the only Asian to be at prestigious by invitation only gemological events,” says Tay. “The thing about this industry is that there is room for anyone who has the passion and the right attitude, to go very far.”