You may have noticed that I have been posting these geology words of the week on all different days. My original goal was to post them every Friday– that has rarely worked out, but I figure as long as I post a word on average once a week then all is good in the Evelyn Skepchick world. I post when I can in-between meetings, labwork, writing, and other graduate student tasks. One of my thesis advisors calls his students “gradual students.” I think this name is very appropriate. When I think about all that I need to accomplish in order to write my PhD thesis, I become entirely overwhelmed. However, if I take my thesis one task at a time, gradually working my way through, then I am able to keep my sanity.
Okay, on to this week’s geology word of the week: carat.
1. A unit of weight used for gemstones, equivalent to 0.2 grams.
2. Something Paris Hilton has in abundance.
3. Something bunny rabbits eat… oh wait, that’s carrot. Sorry.
Carat is also one of the “Four Cs” used in the gemstone world to set the price of diamonds and other stones. In general, the bigger the stone (the more carats), the more a diamond (or any gemstone) is worth. Of course, other considerations are important as well. A gigantic diamond that has a ghastly yellow color and contains ugly inclusions will not sell for a very high price. The three other Cs used in the gemstone (especially the diamond) world are: color, clarity, and cut. In terms of color, clear diamonds are generally worth more than yellowish diamonds. Unless, of course, the diamond has a “fancy” color. Colored diamonds are rare and often worth much more than regular white diamonds. Diamonds can be all colors of the rainbow- blue, green, red, even black! The third C for Clarity refers to the “clearness” of a diamond. Almost all diamonds have some inclusions or small cracks in them. The clearer or more “flawless” the diamond, the more it is worth. The final C is for Cut, which refers to the quality of the manmade cut of the diamond. The cut of a diamond is often overlooked but is actually very important- a beautiful natural stone can have its beauty (and its price) enhanced or reduced depending on the cut.
I have heard a fair amount about “the Four Cs” since I started dating a diamond geologist. As I wrote in one of my very first skepchick posts, I am not a big fan of De Beers or of the traditional diamond engagement ring. I wrote this post about six months before I met Mr. Diamond. We met at sea in June 2007. Well, technically we were still in port in Thailand at the time, but we shortly departed land to spend 50 days in the middle of the Indian Ocean in order to study a chain of underwater volcanoes. This cruise was part of a research project I worked on during my first two years of graduate school before switching to my thesis work in Oman. Mr. Diamond was an undergraduate (scandal… I was a first year graduate student) at the University of Cape Town. He was also a bursar with De Beers, meaning that De Beers was paying for four years of college and that he would be required to work for them for four years in order to pay them back. Not a bad deal, I suppose. I guess it’s sort of like a De Beers ROTC except that you don’t have to shoot anyone. Except pirates, maybe, if they attack your diamond-mining vessel.
Speaking of pirates, after about 49 (okay, maybe 48… it took him about two days to fall head-over-heels for me) days of subtle and not-so-subtle flirtation, Mr. Diamond and I had our first date: pirate watch. That’s right, our first “date” was pirate watch. After spending nearly two months in the Indian Ocean, we cruised past the volcanic island of Krakatoa (the very first land we saw!) and then up the coast of Sumatra. This region is known for piracy, so in addition to the normal watches taken by the crew, the scientists were given watch shifts as well. A day or two before we made it to our end port of Singapore, Mr. Diamond asked somewhat shyly if I’d like to sign up for the same pirate watch shift as him (scientist shifts were in pairs) from 4 am to 6 am. As Mr. Diamond now knows very well, I am not a morning person. However, because I was gradually (gradual student… get it?) admitting that I liked Mr. Diamond, I agreed and dragged myself out of bed at about 3:59 am for pirate watch. We spent two hours perched on the high back deck of the ship, passing night vision goggles back-and-forth and scanning the water for pirate vessels. We spent the two hours talking, the first time we really had an opportunity to talk alone since on a ship there is little privacy. I never would have expected on that first, rather unusual date that I would still be dating Mr. Diamond. Meeting and falling in love with him was a great surprise.
Mr. Diamond still works for De Beers, but I suppose I should call him Mr. Gold now since he now is working on finding gold for De Beers, which is (finally) starting to diversify since diamonds are not selling very well because of the poor economy. He actually has a fantastic job- he travels all over the world prospecting for offshore gold, which De Beers eventually hopes to start mining in the same way they currently mine diamonds offshore using the somewhat ironically-named ship Peace in Africa. He was hired for this position on a Tuesday and on the following Sunday they send him to New Zealand for two months. Not such a bad deal!
A little over a year ago, Mr. Diamond/Gold (I guess he was Diamond then) proposed. Well, we sort of proposed to each other– because we were in such a long distance relationship we decided we either needed to break up or get married. So we decided to get married. Whoever proposed to whom, though, the end result was that at the very end of one of my visits to South Africa Mr. Diamond took me to a Cape Town beach with a gorgeous view of Table Mountain, kneeled down, and pulled out a stunning 1 carat peridot ring. I said yes. I am very excited about my 0.2 grams of olivine, but I’m even more excited about marrying a wonderful, skeptical, handsome, cute (ever heard a South African accent?) geologist. We’re going to have many geological adventures together.
By the way, we became engaged on Friday the 13th of March. We only realized that we became engaged on Friday the 13th a couple of days later when a friend asked Mr. Diamond why in the world he decided to propose on that day. As a skepchick, I personally think our Friday the 13th engagement date is auspicious.