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 Post subject: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:01 am 
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I realize it's not productive to worry about something I probably won't be able to do anything to change, but I'm concerned about being able to pass my 20 stone exam. I've finished all my labs and courses except for a couple of boxes in the Gem ID course, and will soon take the 20 stone.

Problem is that I've consistently missed multiple stones on my first attempt of any box I've received, and have never been able to be 100% accurate. I was told by my instructor that my performance is relatively normal. However, I was also told that a good number of the boxes I've received will be what I can expect to deal with as far as mimicking the variety and difficulty of the exam.

So how can I expect to identify all 20 correctly on a single attempt when I have never been able to do so, including on my recent boxes where I'm consistently missing 3-4 stones on my first attempts? I understand that we get up to 10 attempts until we fail the course and then have to re-register and take Gem ID all over again, but I definitely can't afford to spend the time and money doing so. Do you have any info or advice that can help?


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 12:45 pm 
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Hi GeoGuy and welcome.
I'd do an assessment of what stones I consistently identify correctly and which ones are a confusion. These confusions often arise because we second guess ourselves.
Ask your instructor to give you tips on where you are going wrong with the confusions. Should you be approaching the process differently?
Where do you feel you are going wrong?
Are these stones oddballs or so common you believe it's too easy and go for the obscure?


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:32 pm 
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Thanks Barbra

I do intend to bring up my concerns with my instructor again and see what kind of advice she can give regarding the issues I'm having. However, I expect she won't have much different to say than what she has already suggested.

I tend to miss an average of 3 stones per box. Usually only 1 of the 3 is missed due to my getting confused and second guessing myself between 2 stones that are very similar and I end up choosing incorrectly. The other 2 would be from stones that I should be getting certain readings or observations from but for some reason I'm not able to.

For example, I might get a stone that should have an readable RI in the refractometer but for some unknown reason I'm not able to get one. As my instructor suggests, I try testing different parts of the stone, varying the amounts of RI liquid, cleaning it, viewing from different distances, different amounts of light, etc. but still won't get a reading. Or I might get a stone that is supposed to have a certain type of inclusion or feature especially under magnification that is supposed to identify it (particularly in natural vs synthetic), but my stone may not show these inclusions at all or not show them clearly.

I'm definitely not feeling optimistic, but hopefully these last couple of box sets will go a bit better. And since I get a fair number of attempts at the 20 stone, maybe I'll get a set that will play to my strengths.


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:04 pm 
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I understand what you're going through.
I'm waiting for the results of a 20 stone test I just took... I muffed the first two by blowing a stone on each.
On this last one, there was a single stone that I'm not confident on.
I'm sure I did identify the species, but not necessarily the variety of the stone.
To boost my chances, I bought an odd lot of gemstones, and I also have a friend whose hobby is collecting various lots of unidentified gemstones.
I have nearly everything of hers ID'ed, including stones that I have muffed in the past.
Something that you could do is buy samples of the stones that give you problems, so you have reference stones.
RI is great, but not so much when the stone doesn't have a flat surface!
I have used the GIA gem ID lab manual, and it was worth every penny I paid for it for the way it improved my technique.
I also am not afraid to do things like Specific Gravity, use the Spectroscope, or any other tools necessary to ID the stone.
I find myself thinking outside the box... I'm NOT going to let the stones win!
If none of that works, I have to remember what my friend Tess told me a long time ago: "Don't worry! If you don't pass the test, they can't eat you!"
If nothing else, I'll pick myself up, dust myself off, and take the next test...
I really don't want to set a record for the most times needed to pass the exam...
Look at the bright side: The more stones you look at, the less unknown stuff you will run across. The stones I muffed are etched in my mind now...
Best of Luck to you!


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 11:24 pm 
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I too struggled with some of the identifications as well. But that is all a part of the learning experience. If it were too easy we would not learn anything. I had to take the final 20 stone exam several times before passing it (my wife went through a particularly difficult delivery of my daughter during the middle of my final exam which did not help) but I managed to pass it and you will too!


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 12:03 am 
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OK, Geoguy, do you think your instruments might be giving you unreliable results?
It's possible. More probable, user error.
Perhaps you may be using too much RI liquid.

Deep breaths.

Double check everything. Remember Gem ID is a process of elimination. Use all the tools you have in your arsenal. UV, spectroscope....Dot your i's and cross your t's. Take it slow.
Be methodical and approach each gem forensically.
If a gem seems befuddling, use the interweb. Don't give up.
I relied heavily on this book:
Tables of Gemstone Identification

and then I got a GemmoRaman. :wink:


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Thu Jan 05, 2017 11:00 pm 
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I'll try to be as careful and methodical as I can when testing. Maybe some of these issues I'm having will smooth out when I take the exam. Or after a few retakes. I'll do my best to try to keep the stress levels low.

Thanks for the responses everyone, it's appreciated!


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Mon Jan 16, 2017 2:31 am 
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GeoGuy128 wrote:
I'll try to be as careful and methodical as I can when testing. Maybe some of these issues I'm having will smooth out when I take the exam. Or after a few retakes. I'll do my best to try to keep the stress levels low.

Thanks for the responses everyone, it's appreciated!


The best thing you can do is practice a lot before the exam.


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 12:10 pm 
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don't be afraid to challenge GIA if you think they are wrong and they are sometimes. On my 2nd try I missed by one, but I was sure I had identified it correctly. It was a red spinel that GIA said was a ruby. I challenged, they checked and I was correct.

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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Fri Jan 20, 2017 3:12 pm 
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Excellent advice, Richard.
And I will add, if you feel that you are not equipped to positively identify an unknown, challenge your instructor! It is their job to give you the skills you need to succeed.


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 1:14 am 
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Update from me: I passed the 20 stone exam, nailed it!
Very happy that it is now out of the way...

-Tom


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 7:22 pm 
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I never had a doubt Tom
=D> Image =D> Image Image ImageImage


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 Post subject: Re: Passing 20 Stone Exam
PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2017 9:14 pm 
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Thank you, Barbra!


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