My science project in high school was on diamonds, specifically, how diamonds are graded for cut, clarity, color and carat size. You may be more familiar with the term, The Four Cs, courtesy of the Gemological Institute of America (GIA). My friends at Reston International Jewelers loaned me a microscope, tweezers, a diamond cloth, a variety of diamond simulants AND an actual diamond! I also had some charts showing the different grading scales. Needless to say, I had the most popular table at the fair.
One of the judges took a keen interest in my project. She asked me about the 4 Cs and I told her about each one in as much detail as possible, obviously trying to wow her into giving me an A. I told her that the better a diamond is cut, the more brilliance it had. The color of the diamond or better yet, lack of color in a diamond, helped with the brightness of the gem. The clarity grade is dependent on the size, location and the number of inclusions found in the diamond. A diamond is deemed to have a good clarity grade if the inclusions in the diamond could not be seen with the naked eye. And, the weight of the diamond was measured in carats, a word derived from the Carob bean. Carob beans are very consistent in weight and because of that they were originally used as the counter weights on diamond scales.
At this point I thought I was the foremost expert on diamonds in the entire county, maybe even the state! An A was definitely in my future. I was already picturing myself standing on the podium with my first place blue ribbon in one hand and my microscope in the other, raised over my head with fireworks going off behind me.
Then she asked: What is the refractive index of a diamond? I said: Refractive index? She said: Yes, its the measurement that tells you how light bends as it goes through a gemstone facet. Every gemstone has its own refractive index. What is a diamonds? I said: Is this a trick question? She said: No
Then she asked: What's a diamond's specific gravity? I said: huh? She said: You know, it's the ratio of a diamond's density compared to the density of a standard, usually water. Every gemstone has one. I said: Oh, yeah, the gravity, yeah….umm…I dont know.
Then she said: "Don't quit your day job"
Before I could tell her that this IS my day job, she was gone. Four years later, I earned my certificate in diamond identification and grading from the Gemological Institute of America. I really wanted to track down that judge and tell her; See? This is what happens when you dont quit your day job. Oh, and I still got an A.