Online Distance Learning (ODL)

Gem-A Online Distance Learning (ODL) allows you to study Gem-A Gemmology and Diamond qualifications from home and in your own time, no matter where you are in the world.

Study online, anywhere

Our Online Distance Learning (ODL) programme is perfect for those who want to study from the comfort of their own home or for those who live outside the UK. Consisting primarily of asynchronous online study, and a practical lab class with Gem-A London, or a GAPP of your choice, our ODL programme allows you to study gemmology from the comfort of your home and fit your study around your lifestyle.

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GEMINTRO Study Gemmology at Home

Learn at your own pace

Our ODL courses follow a structured programme with specific deadlines for tasks and activities, while providing you the flexibility to access the course at a time that suits you. The course has set start and end dates and 80% participation in online activities is required. Regular internet access and basic computer skills are essential for this type of study.

Lab classes

All ODL students must complete a practical lab class at Gem-A London or through one of our Gem-A Approved Practical Providers (GAPPs). Gem-A offers pre-arranged lab classes in the UK for the Gemmology Foundation, Gemmology Diploma and Diamond Diploma courses. To arrange tuition with a GAPP centre, contact your chosen location directly.

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Access the stone library

For an additional fee, current gemmology students studying in London or by ODL and living in the UK or USA are eligible to join our Stone Library Loan Scheme, which allows you to borrow a diverse sample of stone sets, to aid you in your practical learning.

Upcoming online courses

Use the table below to find an upcoming online course

Code Name Start Date DurationPrice (£) Enquire

Ready to apply?

If you wish to apply by post/email please download our PDF application form and send to our London HQ or email to Make sure to review the Terms and Conditions, as you will need to agree to them when completing the application form.


ODL Resources

Here are some useful quick links and resources for those studying  online with The Gemmological Association of Great Britain.

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Stone library

Complete an application for our stone library loan scheme (UK only)

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Lab classes

Book a lab class or find an Approved Practical Provider

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Teaching Centres

Find an Accredited Teaching Centre in your country and discover the courses they offer

Frequently Asked Questions

All distance learning students must complete some practical tuition as part of their course, this ensures you can use the equipment correctly and safely, as well as giving you the opportunity to see a much wider range of gem materials outside of those supplied with your course materials. 

If you choose to book onto a lab class at Gem-A London, or a lab class in the US, then you will pay for this as part of your course fee. If you will be attending your practical tuition with one of our GAPP centres, then you will make the arrangements and pay them their fee directly. 

You can contact for guidance on available examination centres. Please note that not all examination centres are guaranteed to be available for every exam session.

Examinations may be possible in the following locations, Australia, Bahrain, Canada, China, France, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Italy, Japan, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Taiwan, Thailand, United Kingdom, United States of America.

Please note that Diamond Practical examinations are limited to a smaller selection of locations. 

Communication on the online distance learning courses with your tutor and fellow students is through forums, and engaging in discussions and posting questions is part of the experience. Where possible you should post your questions within the course as they may also benefit other students and encourage group talking points. However, should you need to message your tutor privately, you can do this through the online campus that you will have access to for the duration of your course. 

For each course, the recommended self-study hours per week, including time for the reading of the course notes, completing any homework (onsite studies only), and end-of-block reviews and online assessments, are:

Gemmology Foundation

  • Evening: 6 to 8 hours
  • Daytime: 4 to 6 hours
  • ODL: 6 to 8 hours
  • ODL Fast track: 10 to 12 hours

Gemmology Diploma

  • Evening: 8 to 10 hours
  • Daytime: 6 to 8 hours
  • ODL: 10 to 12 hours

Diamond Diploma

  • Evening: 10 to 12 hours
  • Daytime: 8 to 10 hours
  • ODL: 8 to 10 hours

The Gem-A online distance learning courses work asynchronously, meaning that students can log on at any time to complete coursework, giving students the chance to have their courses work around their busy schedules. There is no face-to-face tuition or live interactions on the online course, but you are assigned a tutor who you will communicate with through online forums when you have questions during your studies. The course schedule is available to download at the start of the course, which provides an outline of when you should be completing each of the online lessons and includes the dates of the block review and online assessment deadlines. Gem-A requires students to complete at least 80% of the online course lessons to go forward to the final examination.

Course duration depends on the course, method of study, and location. Most on-site courses at Gem-A London are approximately 4 months. The standard-length distance learning courses are 9 months, although there is a 6-month fast-track option only for the online Foundation course for students with prior relevant experience. Contact the education team for more information, or contact your chosen teaching center directly for their schedules.

The possession of FGA membership has been recognized in the trade for many decades. The Gemmology Diploma was requested by the trade in 1908 to meet its ever more complex needs at a time when synthetic gems were becoming a greater commercial problem. Now this prestigious qualification, as well as DGA membership, is recognized worldwide as the world gem education benchmark: the necessary practical standard entry into high-level career paths and a higher education.

Gem-A courses and qualifications are both high-level and officially accredited in the UK – Gem-A is an awarding body. This is one reason our qualifications are so highly regarded worldwide. All our courses emphasise the significant importance of rapid, self-reliant observational and practical ability, using a thorough knowledge and understanding of gemmological principles. Gem-A courses also foster the ability to choose appropriate testing methods based on intelligent observation for practical decision-making. The theory part of diploma courses helps you gain a deeper understanding of your decision-making processes in practical gemmology.

There are no internationally recognised gemmological laboratory qualifications. Most professional gem laboratories around the world employ Gem-A graduates, but our qualifications are only part of the requirements. Professional testing and grading require considerable experience plus an understanding of some advanced laboratory techniques that are not dealt with in our diploma courses.

Gem-A’s diploma-level courses are internationally recognised as the highest-status gemmology qualifications and can help your career in the jewellery or gem industries, and related professions such as auctioneering, valuations, appraisals, and laboratory work.

Loan Stone Library

Download Application Forms for UK/USA Residents

Here at Gem-A we have a fascinating library of stones available for loan to those who are studying on our ODL and London on-site Foundation and Diploma in Gemmology courses. 

For a fee, London and ODL gemmology students living in the UK or the USA are eligible to join our Stone Library Loan Scheme, which allows you to borrow a diverse sample of stone sets, to aid you in your practical learning.

The library has been designed to enhance a student’s experience in handling gems and to provide a clear insight into features to look for in the everyday handling of commercial cut and rough stones.

Depending at what stage you have reached in your course, we will indicate which stone sets are most valuable for you to look at. Each set of stones contains between ten and twenty specimens, which provide relevant and clearly identifiable features and characteristics. Examples of sets available include those for general testing, observation using a 10x loupe, spectrum stones, and crystalline and organic materials with identifiable features.


Sets are available to ODL students studying within the UK or the USA, and students at Gem-A London. All sets are either sent using a recorded postal service, or collected from Gem-A London, so please be aware that you will need to sign for the stones upon receipt, and return them in a similar way. 

After we have received your application form and payment, you will be able to request your first set. ODL students may apply to borrow up to 8 sets, and fees will apply accordingly. 

If you are a London on-site student you can apply to the library and collect the sets in class, fees will apply accordingly. 

All stone sets are issued for 2 weeks and you will be given a specific return date. 

Contact the education department at for further information.

For students who reside in the USA and wish to borrow stones, please contact Cara Williams at