How to Become a


The complete career guide to be a Lapidarist: salary, job growth, employers, best schools, and education you may need to get started.

Why We Love It

  • $42,380
    Potential Avg. Salary
  • -11.3%
    Job Growth Rate
  • Creativity Focused
    Career Attribute
  • Office Work Environment
    Career Attribute

A lapidaries, or gem cutter, makes and repairs jewelry such as rings, bracelets and brooches.  They cut objects out of precious metals or cut and shape gem stones to produce high end jewelry.

Recommended Schools

What is a Lapidarist?

The following responsibilities are common for Lapidaries:

  • Uses a magnifying lens to examine gem stones for fissures, holes and cracks
  • Cuts a gem stones to a required shape using various diamond cutting tools and equipment
  • Uses different types of polishing equipment to finish the stone or metal
  • Polishes diamonds for industrial purposes for designated machining purposes

A Day In The Life

Lapidaries use precise stone cutting tools to transform rocks into beautifully carved and polished precious stones and jewelry.  They can work with shells, precious gem stones and glass and they must be capable of properly handling the correct tools and machines to cut and polish these items.  They should know how to handle a variety of power saws, each one capable of making a different angle cut with a contrasting thickness, shape or pattern.  Then, they cut away the outer rock of the gem stone using drill bits, sanders, buffers and grinders to smooth out the desired shape of the piece.  They use they hand tools and sanders and buffers to slowly ship away at the gems outer crust to eventually produces a polishes and fine surface of the gem stone.  These stones and metals are then transformed into beautiful pieces of jewelry that you can create with the proper tools and a lot of patience and diligence.  As well as cutting stones for new pieces of jewelry, they also repair and polish existing gem stones and jewelry.

Typical Work Schedule

This is a full-time occupation.  Typically spent individually in an office or industrial machining area.

Projected Job Growth

Growth for this occupation is slow and steady.  Prior experience and knowledge of the industry is beneficial to gain employment as a lapidary.

Typical Employers

These individuals typically work in jewelry stores, antique shops or are self-employed as artists in their own galleries or stores.

Recommended Schools

How To Become a Lapidarist

Whether an individual chooses to work with rare gemstones or shells or glass, a person must acquire the proper set of tools to complete the task of cutting and shaping pieces. These individuals should have knowledge in tools like band saws, power saws and grinding equipment to assist them with creating a variety of shapes and patterns.

To begin a career as a lapidary, an individual should obtain a certification from an accredited gemologist certification program.  This program should consist of course work in gemology, gem grading and appraising.  In order to obtain the lapidary certification process, a student must complete and pass the required course and accompanying tests.  The student must also pass a final certification exam at the end of the coursework.

This profession requires an individual have insurmountable amounts of patience and precision.  It also takes artistic vision to be capable of seeing the potential in a raw gem.  Then through dedication and the accurate tools, these individuals can create pieces that can be used on jewelry decoration.

Lapidarist Salary Data

We’ve provided you the following to learn more about this career. The salary and growth data on this page comes from recently published Bureau of Labor Statistics data while the recommendations and editorial content are based on our research.

National Anual Salary

Low Range




High Range


National Hourly Wage

Low Range




High Range


How do Lapidarist salaries stack up to other jobs across the country? Based on the latest jobs data nationwide, Lapidarist's can make an average annual salary of $42,380, or $20 per hour. This makes it an Above Average Salary. On the lower end, they can make $27,400 or $13 per hour, perhaps when just starting out or based on the state you live in.

Salary Rankings And Facts

  • #487 Nationally for All Careers

Highest Education Among Lapidarists

  • 0.2%   Doctorate
  • 2%   Masters
  • 14.5%   Bachelors
  • 8.5%   Associates
  • 27.4%   College
  • 31.8%   High School
  • 15.7%   Less than High School

Job Growth Projections and Forecast

2014 Total Jobs


2024 Est. Jobs


Job Growth Rate


Est. New Jobs


How does Lapidarist job growth stack up to other jobs across the country? By 2024, there will be a change of -4,500 jobs for a total of 35,300 people employed in the career nationwide. This is a -11.3% change in growth over the next ten years, giving the career a growth rate nationwide of Below Average.

Growth Rankings And Facts

  • #752 Nationally for All Careers

What Companies Employ The Most Lapidarists

Industry Current Jobs New Jobs Needed % Increase
Self-employed workers 16,500 -1,600 -2%
Jewelry, luggage, and leather goods stores 10,300 -1,300 -1%
Jewelry and silverware manufacturing 6,200 -2,500 -3%

Want To Be a Lapidarist? Get Started!

Generate your free SmartPlan™ to identify colleges you like, and potential ways to save on a degree or certification program toward your career with courses, offers, and much more!

Enroll Now and Get Started

or Learn More →