This week was huge for me! I've been working on my gemology degree from GIA since 2012. Over the past two years, I've learned all about colored gemstones and diamonds: where they come from, how they form, how they get from mine to market, how to grade and evaluate them, how to separate simulants and synthetics from the real thing, and how to identify hundreds of different varieties of stones.
To sign up for the final exam to become a gemologist, you must first correctly identify 500 gemstones. So each week for the past year, I've been receiving boxes of stones in the mail and going through them one by one with a refractometer, microscope, polariscope and other tools to correctly identify them.
I finished identifying all 500 in December and signed up for the dreaded 20 stone exam. To become a gemologist, you must pass the exam with a 100%. No misidentified stones or omitted treatment calls allowed in order to pass. The 20 stones are all random. Much of the test is luck of the draw. 20 stones may not sound like a lot, but there are hundreds of potential species and varieties that they could be, and there's no way to know what you'll get until you open the box. I have one friend who passed on the first try, but have others who needed 5+ tries before passing. I took the test yesterday and identified everything correctly with the exception of a sapphire that I thought was lattice diffused...turns out it was actually heat treated. It's a six hour test, so it was frustrating to fail because of a small error. But I'm glad I didn't pass on the first try. I learned what to look for when separating lattice diffused from heat treated sapphires! Also, GIA's whole mentality in requiring a 100% is that simple mistakes can be costly ones when you're dealing with gemstones. They won't let anyone call themselves a gemologist who isn't a true expert.
Today I went back to GIA (a little more nervous than before). I got a whole new batch of 20 stones. It was not easy- definitely the hardest test I've ever taken before. I've never scrutinized anything so closely as I did those 20 gemstones. But I passed with a 100%! So I'm really excited to be able to say that I'm a Graduate Gemologist now:)
Beyond just being excited on a personal level to have finished the curriculum, I'm also thrilled to bring the knowledge and skills that I've learned through GIA to my new venture, Sea+Stone!