Diamond Essentials

January 1999

For Your Staff:Product Education

Diamond Essentials

Learning can be as easy as riding the train

Late nights. Hours of study. Something more to add to an already crammed schedule. These are the nightmarish thoughts that ran through my mind when I was approached about taking "Diamond Essentials," a new course in the Gemological Institute of America's distance education program.

Thankfully, GIA anticipated my fears – and those of others like me – and developed a fascinating course on diamonds I managed to complete mostly during my train rides to and from work each day. In just 11/2 hours a day for two weeks I completed the course and was ready to give my coworker Robert Weldon, a graduate gemologist, a run for his money. It also left me with a strong desire to continue GIA's distance education.

What To Expect
"Diamond Essentials" consists of seven reading assignments. A videotape introduces the course and contains a 15-minute visual reinforcement of each printed assignment. Assignments 1, 3, 5 and 7 have questionnaires that you answer and send to GIA (via fax, e-mail or snail mail). Here's a quick look at each lesson:

  1. Diamonds and diamond value, an overview of the 4Cs and explanations of the anatomy of a round brilliant diamond, the difference between synthetics and simulants and exactly what a diamond is. (The next four lessons examine each of the 4Cs in more detail.)
  2. Carat weight, which covers how to weigh diamonds and how to measure, estimate, round and express weights. You'll also learn about state-of-the-art systems such as the Brilliant Eye, which uses computer technology to analyze measurements, proportions and cut.
  3. Color. Learn how little buggers called trace elements cause color. Also learn how the color of the precious metal that holds a diamond can enhance its color – important information when selling these beauties. And you'll be able to solve the riddle of what happened to A, B and C in GIA's color grading scale (these letters were once used without clear definition, and some dealers started to grade their diamonds double A. GIA wanted to start fresh without any association with the inadequate older systems, so the GIA scale starts with D). Fluorescence, color terms and treatments are discussed also.
  4. Clarity is affected by many things, including inclusions, the cutter's abilities and treatments. You'll learn about refractive index and flash effect, clarity grades and diamond plots, magnifiers and microscopes.
  5. Cut – the precision of the cut and the quality of the polish – makes all the difference in a diamond's appearance. Keep a calculator handy for a lesson on proportions, table size, angles and percentages. You don't have to be a mathematical genius; GIA explains each step.
  6. This lesson explains the difference between durability, hardness and toughness. This information is crucial when cleaning a stone. Did you know an ultrasonic cleaner can shake diamonds loose from worn or damaged mountings or damage fracture-filled diamonds?
  7. Diamond jewelry. You'll come away with a better understanding of why people buy diamonds. You'll also know the difference between Victorian and Edwardian, Art Nouveau and Art Deco.

Along the way, you'll read short stories about famous people, including Cecil Rhodes, a major force within De Beers in the late 1800s, and Catherine de Medici, an avid gem collector. You'll learn about famous diamonds and read excerpts from the FTC Guides for the Jewelry, Precious Metals and Pewter Industries.

You'll need to achieve 75% or better on the questionnaires to take the "Diamond Essentials" exam, which is offered at GIA offices in Carlsbad, Los Angeles or New York City or by proctor at other locations. Once finished with the course, you'll know all about the fifth C – confidence on the diamond sales floor.

Now take a few minutes to test your skills with the quiz Test Your Vocabulary

– by Lorraine M. Suermann

Copyright © 1999 by Bond Communications.


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