Interview with Benoit Charbonneau, Gemologist

Benoît Charbonneau Gemmologue GemSélection Discovery Gems Gemology

The Gemmologist is an indispensable person in the process of creating a jewel. A Gemologist is a specialist in precious stones who has technical and scientific skills that he puts at the service of experts, traders, jewelers or even individuals.

His job is to appraise gems to determine their value and authenticity. The Gemologist can work in the laboratory but he can also travel around the world to find the most beautiful stones and offer them for sale to his customers.

However, we will see that the job of Gemologist is actually much more complex thanks to Benoit Charbonneau, Field Gemologist, who has agreed to talk to us about his work and his experiences!

Benoit Charbonneau Gemmologue pierres précieuses gemmologie métier de gemmologue
Benoit Charbonneau ©Emilien Durand

Who is Benoit Charbonneau ?

Passionate about jewelry since childhood, Benoit Charbonneau trained in this profession for 6 years, first passing a degree in jewelry, then a “Brevet des Métiers d’Art et des Joyaux” followed by an additional mention in gems setting.

At the end of his studies he left to work in St Barth, a French-speaking island in the Caribbean. At the end of this great experience, he was offered to study Gemmology at the GIA in New York.

What is the profession of Gemmologist ?

The job of Gemologist is first and foremost a job of passion, which consists of the study of precious, fine and ornamental stones. This title can be obtained after six months of training but it takes a lot of practice to become a real Gemologist.

Benoit emphasizes the importance of a sense of observation in his profession because a Gemologist is above all a good observer.

Benoit Charbonneau Gemmologue Gemmologie Pierres Précieuses Gem Sélection
©Olivia Bayeul

What is your job ?

Benoit has through his company GEM SELECTION a trading activity. He works on order, mainly for the Maisons of Place Vendôme but also for classic jewelers.

Benoit also has a stock of around 200 stones, all very beautiful because he only works with well-cut pieces and without inclusions visible to the eye.

How are your stones selected ?

For Benoit, it is above all a question of “feeling”, the stone must speak to him, it must be well cut, without inclusions visible to the naked eye and not too saturated in color.

After 23 years in this universe, Benoit has a sharp eye on the latter and his Jeweler’s eye allows him to quickly get a first idea about the stone.

What are investment stones ?

Recently, Benoit began working on investment gemstones following the request of private clients, particularly from Saudi Arabia, India and even Qatar, who wanted to diversify their savings.

This type of investment has different yields from classic booklets since they are around 10 and 20% annually with taxation only on resale.

Benoit does not propose to invest in diamonds except for exceptional stones such as colored diamonds and prefers to work with colored stones.

Gemmologue Benoit Charbonneau Tourmalines
Tourmalines ©Gem Sélection

How do you become a Gemologist?

There are two internationally recognized major schools which are the GIA (Gemological Institute of America) whose flagship school is in Carlsbad, California, and Gem-A (Gemmological Association of Great Britain) which is in England.

In France there is the ING (Institut National de Gemmologie) which has existed for a very long time which trains students with the European diploma of the FEEG.

A travel anecdote to share ?

Benoit has many anecdotes about his travels, but he was particularly marked by the attack of a rabid dog in Sri Lanka, an attack which required hospitalization and many injections.

Recently, he even almost stepped on a Black Mamba on his terrace (the second most venomous snake in the world).

When Benoit travels he never reveals where he is staying for obvious security measures. However, once by mistake he posted a photo on social media in which his hotel was recognizable. Result of the races he found himself with a queue of 200 meters in front of his hotel !…

A gemstone that marked you ?

A relatively significant stone for Benoit: a 12.08 carat Lagoon Tourmaline without any inclusions…

When he saw this Tourmaline he immediately noticed a tiny inclusion at the bottom of the cylinder head which forced him to have the stone recut by an excellent lapidary in Bangkok. The inclusion completely disappeared with a minimal loss of 0.80 carat. The Tourmaline was sold in 3 days…

Tourmaline Lagon, 12 carats ©Gem Sélection

Traveling with Benoit Charbonneau

In addition to his trading activity, Benoit Charbonneau organizes stays around Gemmology offered in three countries: India, Sri Lanka and Thailand.

He takes small groups of up to 6 people to the mines and markets for 5 to 10 days, which creates strong relationships between participants.

If you want to know more about the destinations or the organization of these stays, you can visit the site : Discovery Gems

Gemmologue Benoit Charbonneau voyages gemmologie
Discovery Gems

Many thanks to Benoit for his time !

To see the interview in its entirety, you can click here:


To find out more, you can also visit Benoit Charbonneau’s website : GEM SELECTION

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