Teaching Facilities

21 Ely Place, London

Gem-A offers students a fantastic range of facilities for on-site learning, from our dedicated teaching labs to our on-site library and stone collections - we have everything you need for a successful gemmology and diamond education, all under one-roof.


The Gem-A library contains hundreds of books dedicated to the study of gemstones and is one of the most comprehensive collections of gemmology texts. Students are able to use the library to assist in their research projects and to further their education (by appointment only).

Sir James Walton (1881 - 1955)
Surgeon to three monarchs, Walton started life as a trainee surgeon at the London Hospital in 1913. Described as an “extraordinary man” in a memorandum from the annals of The Royal College of Surgeons, Walton came to gemmology after retiring from a raft of positions held in the medical profession from 1931 – 1947. With no mathematical background he succeeded in mastering a subject for which training in mathematical physics was deemed essential by discovering how the atomic structure of minerals could be inferred from the crystalline structure and how this would allow estimations of the atomic weight. By 1947, Walton’s knowledge was such that he was appointed the first curator of the Association’s collection of gemstones as well as becoming President of the Association and Chairman of the National Association of Goldsmiths. He continued in this role through to 1955, where upon his death the N.A.G. and the Gemmological Association established a library of his vast collection of literature in his memory. The library was contained at St. Dunstan’s House, the former headquarters of the N.A.G. and Gemmological Association until the two associations split in the early 1990s. The two halves of the library remained separate until today, when they have, once again, been reunited in Gem-A’s Sir James Walton Library at Ely Place.
The Herbert Smith Room is primarily used by Gemmology Diploma students, and is used for access to the Anderson Room.
Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith (1872 - 1953)
Dr George Frederick Herbert Smith, author of the world-renowned Gemstones, Dr Herbert Smith was one of the founding fathers of what is now known as the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (Gem-A). A teacher of mineralogy who spent a number of years at the head of the British Museum of Natural History, Dr Herbert Smith was one of the few men who not only discovered a new mineral (paratacamite) but had one named after him (Herbertsmithite). During his many years supporting Gem-A, Dr Herbert Smith wrote and marked the first ever Gemmology Diploma, which was based on his meticulously compiled and ground-breaking publication Gemstones. Dr Herbert Smith remained as head examiner of the Gemmology Diploma from its instigation in 1913 all the way till 1951. Throughout this time he was also elected President of the Association — an office he held for eleven years from 1942 till his death in 1953.
Named after Eric Bruton, who many will know as one of the most authoritative voices in the study of diamonds, the Gem-A Diamond Diploma is taught here. A darkened environment and individual lamps allow accurate diamond identification and grading.
Eric Bruton
Bruton was, for many years, a seminal writer on all matters relating to gems, jewellery, and watches. He began teaching for the Association in 1967 shortly before the publication of his first practical handbook Diamonds. In its time, Bruton’s publication was one of the go to books for the study of diamonds and formed the back-bone of what is now known as the Diamond Diploma. He founded the trade’s only newspaper of the time — Retail Jeweller — which, in competition with Watchmaker Jeweller & Silversmith, became the voice of the trade. Today, Bruton’s contribution to the Association is remembered with the Bruton Medal, a prize awarded to exceptional students with the best results in the Diamond Diploma examination.

Named after one of the most prolific writers in the field of gemmology, Robert Webster, the room is predominantly used for Gemmology Foundation classes. 
Robert Webster
Webster joined the Gem Testing Laboratory after receiving a distinction in the Gemmology Diploma in 1934. Working alongside Basil Anderson, C. J. Payne and Alec Farn, Webster not only managed to produce lengthy and detailed guides to testing and identification, such as his 1962 book Gems: Their Sources, Descriptions and Identification, but also engaged in teaching and writing the affairs of Gem-A. Although he never officially took a position of office, such was Webster’s commitment to the Association and the science of gemmology, that he was one of only six men in thirty years to be awarded the much-coveted Research Diploma. To this day, Webster’s compendium of practical gemmology remains as one of the most comprehensive guides for anyone studying gemmology.
Named for the founder of the world’s first gem testing laboratory, Basil W. Anderson — one of the most well-known gemmologists of his time — the laboratory contains advanced lab equipment, including a Perkin Elmer Spectrum 2 FT-IR, ThermoFisher Quant-X EDXRF, Gemmo FT-IR, Gemmoraman 532SG, Sarine DiaMension, GemLab Gem Spectrometer UV-Vis-NIR, SSEF Diamond Spotter, Diamond Sure and Diamond View.
Basil Anderson
A tutor for the Association’s Gemmological Diploma for many years, Anderson also worked as the head of the Gem Testing Laboratory from 1924 till 1979. During his time in these two roles, Anderson co-invented the Chelsea Colour Filter — which he developed in conjunction with C. J Payne and students at the Chelsea College of Science and Technology, of which Gem-A owns the patent. Whilst there are many imitators, there is only one Chelsea Colour Filter, which is sold by Gem-A through Gem-A Instruments. Alongside his teaching and research, Anderson became head examiner of the Association after Dr. Herbert Smith relinquished the role in 1951 and was later voted in as Vice President of the Association in 1976. To this day, Anderson is remembered fondly by the Association with the presentation of the Anderson Medal and Anderson Bank Prize to students who achieve exceptionally high standards. Today Anderson is probably best known for his 1942 publication Gem Testing which is still considered one of the standard texts for any budding gemmologists.