There are numerous trades in the realm of stone, far more than I have addressed here. For those considering joining the industry, here is a synopsis of the basics.


Geologists are the ones who find the crystals. However, 95% of them are primarily looking for oil, diamonds, or gold, as these industries predominantly hire them. Consequently, most crystals, especially in North America, are discovered by accident. Discoveries often occur during the removal of brush for forest service and fire access roads, logging practices, or any resource development that exposes the earth's surface. Sometimes, even hunters wandering in nature stumble upon noteworthy finds, which they share with friends, eventually reaching a geologist or rockhound. Geologists often use advanced techniques and tools like satellite imagery, geophysical surveys, and geochemical analysis to locate mineral deposits.


Miners are responsible for extracting stones once they are discovered. Their job involves getting the rock out of the ground, building roads for access, organizing the transport of stone from remote areas to storage or distributors, and handling the necessary permits with the government. Seasonal weather affects the ability to mine in any region, so this trade often deals with time constraints and significant periods of isolation. Mining methods can vary widely, including open-pit mining, underground mining, and placer mining, depending on the type and location of the deposit.


Lapidaries are the stonecutters who process stones to bring them to market. They assess yield, examine and grade stones, cut to minimize material loss, and process raw materials to make them consumer-ready for wholesale and retail markets. Whether meticulously attending to gemstones or processing opaque materials for commercial grade, a lapidary's job is to increase the value of whatever comes from the earth. The lapidary process includes various techniques such as sawing, grinding, sanding, lapping, polishing, and faceting, each requiring specific skills and tools.


Mineralogists are the scientists of the stone industry. Typically, they are master's or Ph.D. level students who have graduated with a degree in geology and are now specializing in a specific field. Mineralogists study specific gemstones in labs through a series of tests. They also experiment with various inorganic compounds to advance technology, including efforts to sequester carbon. Their work can also include field studies, classifying minerals, understanding crystallography, and contributing to environmental and resource management.


Traders and distributors sell stones, whether polished or rough and unprocessed. They handle marketing, advertising, sales, and delivery, enabling miners, lapidaries, and other specialists to focus on their trades. Distributors can range from small-time vendors at rock shows to diamond dealers managing millions of dollars in inventory annually. They might run rock shops or sell rare earth metals. Their business expertise makes the other trades possible by allowing each group to concentrate on their specialties. The market for stones can be highly varied, including direct sales, auctions, online marketplaces, and international trade shows. Distributors may also ensure compliance with ethical sourcing and trade regulations.


Gemmologists work in the identification field, often found in retail jewelry stores identifying gemstones for customers using advanced machinery. They also work in labs to identify stones and evaluate their type and market value. Additionally, gemmologists may work for gold traders, helping to extract stones and make additional sales through secondary markets. Their work often involves using tools such as microscopes, spectrometers, and other gemological instruments to determine the properties and authenticity of stones. Gemmologists also stay updated on treatments and synthetic materials that can affect the market value of gemstones.