Friday, October 19, 2007


It comes as no surprise to me that the first few colors I learned to mix last night were shades of green. It turns out that these colors will serve as the base for mixing several different colors in the Golden line-up. I ordered my set of principal colors and have started to go through the color exercises outlined in the materials I got for free from Golden.

I like green. I like blue too. The reason I titled this post "flashback" was because seeing all of these shades of green brought me immediately back to my Gemology coursework. One of the most dreaded parts of the Graduate Gemologist course at GIA is the Gemstone Identification program. In this course, students study hundreds of different gemstones to learn their identity. To pass the course and earn a diploma, you are given an assortment of 20 stones that you have to accurately identify. Many of them are green. You are not allowed ANY errors on this test. If you miss one, you're back to square one.

While I was studying for my diploma, my friend Hiro told me that his instructor gave him 20 different green stones for his exam. Torture! Luckily, I received an assortment of colors during my test. In gemstone identification, the slightest color variation can mean the difference between an entire species of colored stone! To the untrained eye, many of the stones look exactly the same!

I was determined to pass this test. I remember the day back in 2002 vividly. I arrived at the campus, sweating, and received my stones from my instructor. The test is given in a laboratory and there were probably about 15 other students in there that day. You are allowed 4 hours to complete the test (or vomit) and I finished my test in one hour. I couldn't sit there and re-check anymore, so I gathered the stones and went to the front of the classroom.

Other students practicing their lab skills know what you are doing when you're in the lab. All eyes were on me and my knees were weak as I stood next to the teacher.

I handed him my paperwork and stood there. Frozen. The test is graded as you watch! More torture. The teacher used a red pen to make checkmarks next to each of my answers. One at a time. Correct. Correct. Correct. Correct. It was killing me! He finished the first page (ten stones per page) and moved onto page 2. At that point he turned to me and asked, "Feel pretty good about page one?" I replied, "Yes, but if you pick up that red pen one more time, I am going to throw up all over you." The class burst into hysterical laughter. Not so funny to me. To prepare for this exam takes more than one year of intense study!

On to page two. No red marks. No comments from the teacher. He looked at me, sighed, and marked a HUGE 100% on my paper! I threw my hands into the air and shouted "YES!". The class could not believe it! Here was a brand new Graduate Gemologist standing in front of the class. I felt so shiny and new! The teacher asked me in front of everyone, "How many times have you taken this test?" My reply was quick, "One time. This is my first time." Ahhhhh....I was a gemstone identification natural! That was one of the best moments of my life.

Since then, I have tutored 2 other former colleages in getting their GG diplomas. I am happy to say that both of my students also passed on the first attempt. I'll never forget this part of my life.

I'm off today to see some friends and eat the cheesecake. If you're nice, maybe I'll post some pictures Sunday! Adios!


Bobbie said...

How cool that you are a Gemologist! I love the colored stones especially, the ones like turquoise, moonstone, coral etc. Such an interesting story.

Kim H. said...

WHAT ...I did not get anything about mixing the colors??? I only got the one color chart!!!!

Your story put a smile on my go girl!

Enjoy the time with the gals and the jealous!

Tami said...

What a great story, Julie. I really feel like I was there next to you in that classroom. The color mixing looks like fun. Say hi to the girls for me today :)

Godelieve said...

Love those shades of green! Great story too ;)

patty van dorin said...

what a delightful story!! I know nothing about gems but lordy do I love rocks and minerals but then I know nothing about them either. I still have the crown jewel of my rock collection when I was just a wee 5 year old.

cheesecase and friends song like a perfect day

dianeclancy said...

Hi Julie,

What a great story!! It was much fun ... and neat to get to know you better.

I don't know them well, but I really enjoy gems, crystals and stones!

~ Diane Clancy

Heather Grow said...

thanks for the story. MMmm cheesecake.

Emilia said...

Great "flashback" shared with us... You are just good both in identifying the gem & mixing the green.