I was saying...
I don't disagree with you, D. And, I appreciate, respect and understand the exclusive nature of the gem and jewelry trade, especially the diamond industry. It is a trade based upon tradition, trust, technical expertise, apprenticeship, knowledge, respect, and personal contacts. Not just anyone can get in the door. And, not just anyone deserves to get in the door.
And, I wrote a whole lot more, but, there is too much to remember...
However, if you don't happen to live near NYC's diamond district, or Antwerp or Bangkok, you have to be creative about finding ways to learn more about diamonds, colored gems and jewelry. I suppose, if your interest is gems, you could study geology, and get out in the field or work in the lab. But, then, you wouldn't learn much about Boucheron, Bulgari, VC&A or DBL. And if you wanted to learn about jewelry, you could get a job in a mass-market jewelery store or maybe a small boutique shop, but then, you might not ever learn much about pleochroism, horsetail inclusions in gemstones, or even a stone like larimar.
My point is, for the average person not living in or near a gem/jewelry epicenter, you have to be open to lots of different ways to increase gem and jewelry knowledge. Research on the internet. Use the library and the book store. Contact professors. Take community classes. Take online classes. Seek out people in the trade willing to mentor. Make friends. Go to trade shows and clubs. And, if you can get a job at a jewelry store, then, fine. However, most likely, the store will not have the depth, variety or numbers of stock, staff, or even clients, to teach you a whole lot about gems and jewelry after the first week or so.
As PART of the overall learning process, there is GIA, an institution that offers a broad range of information about gems and jewelry. Certainly, it is not the be-all, end-all, but it is a reasonable place to start. If you can't work on 47th street, and you love gems and jewelry... then, why not go for some classes at GIA? The more knowledge you can get your hands on, the better, I say.
As far as expectations go, I am sorry, D, you've run into a pile of gemlogist/jeweler wannabes from GIA. Like any other academic organization, I am sure that there is a small number of exceptional grads, and a whole mess of not-sos. And of course, there are oodles of people in the trade who never needed or wanted to participate in the GIA and they are true talents and experts in the industry.
The reality is, GIA offers classes as a way to fund itself and promote the industry, and they are happy to take anyone's money. And, while they "educate" the masses, a group of really smart, experienced, dedicated GIA scientists do/learn really cool stuff in the lab and in the field. And, the cool guys and gals share their information with us. Of course, in the end, let's face it, GIA exists to promote gems. Period. And, now, it has become an important component in the process of authenticating gems... an unfortunate, but necessary, part of the economics of gems and jewelry. It is what it is.
This is (a shortened
) LONG post saying, if I were a total gem/jewelry junkie, I'd be snarfing-up all the gem and jewelry info that I could get my hands on, through ALL the sources available to me, including GIA. And each source for information is valuable in its own way. However, I would not value the GIA experience over any other; especially, for example, a good friend taking time out of a crakin' busy day to offer his knowledge, passion and his workplace to me, as he regularly shares his hard-earned expertise to so many over the internet.