The New Girl!

Posted on the 9th June 2014

I'm Sam - the new girl here at Holts. I relocated to London in March, having previously worked at a family jewellers in Leicestershire for over 7 years. Everything is so different here at Holts, I love the contrasts! The first thing I noticed was the pace; I knew it was going to be faster than my previous job, but when I heard my showroom manager Mena promising clients that jobs would be done in a matter of hours (which I thought would take weeks), I was astonished! The client is different too; the average Holts shopper really knows their stuff! They’ve done their research and understand what they’re talking about, which challenges me to be clued-up at all times. I applied for the job at Holts when a friend in the industry told me about it. After a few nerve-wracking interviews, I got the job, and now you’ll find me on the shop floor at Holts or downstairs in the gem lab. In my first week at the company, using the gem lab to test gemstones was the scariest part – clients rely on your assessment to determine what gem they have. After two months here gemstone testing is still the most challenging part of my job, but also the most enjoyable too. I am currently working my way through a huge box of unidentified stones that have Holts have collected over the years! To test a gemstone, you need the right equipment and a nice clean stone with polished faces. I always start by picking up the stone in my fingers and looking at it with a 10x loupe, feeling it’s weight and texture, looking at its colour, lustre and transparency for clues. Once I have narrowed it down to what it could be, I test it on the refractometer, to find out its refractive index (RI). Each gemstone has a slightly different RI which is a great indication to the identity. This tells me the angle at which light is split when it enters a material. But here’s the scary part; the synthetic counterparts of these stones have the same properties... without the microscope I wouldn’t be able to distinguish between a natural and a manmade stone. Take a Sapphire for example; a synthetic Sapphire will give the same refractometer reading as a natural Sapphire, so I have to be extra careful when looking at its inclusions. They tell a wonderful story about the stone and I love it when I manage to take a photo of an unusual inclusion through the microscope. Last week, Holts gemmologist Alexia and I managed to capture on camera a beautiful display of rainbow colours caused by the needles in a natural Burmese ruby! Since I began working at Holts the team here have built a small coffee bar at the lab, so that the customers can relax while I test their stones. It’s great to know how fascinated customers are by their own gemstones, which makes me really enjoy being able to answer their questions. I truly believe that the best way to learn anything is to surround yourself by it and that is exactly what I have done at Holts. Two months has absolutely flown by, I can’t wait to carry on learning and exploring in the wonderful world of Holts!