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Graduate combines love of jewelry, history, in career plans

August 12, 2015

KOKOMO, Ind. — Emeralds are a history major’s best friend.

At least they are for Diane Frederickson, who combines her love of history and gemstones in a unique career path, in luxury jewelry sales and management.

“History and gemology go together,” she said. “They give you another way of understanding the history of a country.”

Frederickson graduated with her degree in history and political science from Indiana University Kokomo in May, and hopes to complete her graduate gemologist certification with the Gemological Institute of America in 2016.

Frederickson, 35, said her IU Kokomo degree enriches the technical skills she’s gaining with her gemologist program.

“I love to connect the dots between history and gemstones,” she said, noting that, for example, she has studied conflict over emeralds, which are her personal favorite gemstone, in Colombia.

“It is home to the most sought-after emeralds in the world,” she said. “Its history has been affected, and its politics have been affected, by those emeralds.”

She enrolled at IU Kokomo when she moved to the area to marry her husband, Kirk. A job at a local jewelry store inspired her to start the graduate gemologist program two years ago. She takes the online classes one at a time, saving the money to pay her tuition. She will travel to New York, California, or London to complete her required lab courses before taking the final certification exam.

The credential prepares her to be a gemstone appraiser, auction house jewelry specialist, a buyer, to work in retail sales, and other careers. She wants to work in retail, most likely starting in sales, and then work up to setting up new stores and training store employees.

“I’ve loved jewelry since I was a little girl, so that is my dream job,” she said. “I would love to work for Bvlgari or Van Cleef & Arpels.”

Frederickson learned to love history over passionate discussions and debates at her family’s dinner table, growing up in Chicago. Her family’s ethnic background includes Greek and Choctaw Native American.

“It’s something that has always been part of my life,” she said. “People celebrated Columbus Day, and in my family, we would protest the parade.”

Her sixth grade teacher invited her to talk to her class about her family’s perspective on that part of U.S. history, a moment that opened her eyes.

“They had never heard the story of our country from the people who were here before it was colonized,” she said. “We don’t see it the same way others do, and it’s important to hear both sides.”

Indiana University Kokomo serves north central Indiana.

Last updated: 08/12/2015