BURLINGTON For Vermonts youngest certified gemologist and jewelry appraiser, work isnt just work, its a passion. Theres obvious romance in working around colorful gemstones and rare metals and the work demands creativity, technical skill, and a lot of business acumen. Multi-talented Kennon Young, age 26, is owner and operator of the Vermont Gemological Laboratory at 11 Kilburn St., in a former mill, located just off Pine Street in Burlington. Youngs combined studio and lab opened in 2004 and the artist-craftsman has already carved out a unique niche within Vermonts jewelry community. Not only does Young have the industrys professional credentials behind his name, but he is one of only two gemologist in the state along with gemologist Gail J. Nelson of Quechee, Vt. to be both an accredited gemologist and a certified appraiser. While many jewelers may appraise pieces, caveat emptor they lack the National Association of Jewelry Appraisers, Uniform Standards of Professional Appraiser Practice (USPAP) certification. A certified appraiser is not permitted to buy the jewelry that he or she appraises, Young said. And theres a reason for that it makes for a fair, unbiased appraisal. What I appraise are gems, and modern and antique jewelry for estate tax, insurance, resale, etc. I also repair modern and antique jewelry and do custom designing. In addition to being USPAP certified, Young is also a Gemological Institute of America (GIA) certified gemologist, a Jewelers of America certified bench jeweler, and a GIA graduate designer. In addition, Young studied business at Champlain College where he focused on Internet-based marketing and sales, a part of Vermont Gemological Laboratorys focus. Those are a lot of impressive credentials for a rising young professional. And according to Cecelia Gardner of the Jewelers Vigilance Committee, Young is in the top five percent of gem and jewelry appraisers in the U.S. who could ask for a better reference? In addition to designing and crafting exquisite jewelry at his Burlington studio, Young has branched out with a fun line of creepy zombie key chains in time for Halloween. Sure to be popular with teens, the brass key chain (and bottle opener) features a wildly detailed zombie arm that clings its fingers on your pocket edge or purse like a creature rising from the grave. Its just one of Youngs various offerings that display his creative skill and whimsy. Young isnt the typical jeweler who directs his engagement and wedding ring customers to buy diamonds. Theres growing concern about so-called conflict diamonds (blood diamonds), he said that is, material that has come out of regions where theres human exploitation and civil war. I like diamonds from Canada and in the conflict-free areas of Africa. But diamonds may not be forever when it comes to purchasing jewelry that mark lifes important moments. Theres a lot of new interest in stones other than diamonds, Young said. Sapphires, for example; while not replacing diamonds, younger couples want something thats unique, beautiful, valuable and lasting. A lot of the old diamond hype has been fueled by the South African Diamond Trading Company, formerly DeBeers, in a worldwide effort to market its diamonds. While diamonds are certainly beautiful and valuable, there are many exquisite gemstones to consider when investing in jewelry. Whether seeking jewelry appraisal, jewelry purchasing advice, gems jewelry care, jewelry industry news, or gemstone properties, you will find answers at Vermont Gemological Laboratory. If you still cant find what you are looking for, according to Young, visit the labs website and blog where you can ask hard to resolve, personal questions regarding your precious jewels. For more details about your jewelry needs, call Kennon Young at 802-862-6600 or visit www.vermontgemlab.com. The lab has by-appointment/while-you-wait service.