STEM JOBS

EARLY SPRING 2018

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14 EARLY SPRING 2018 // STEMJOBS.COM JEWELRY // SALLY EATON-MAGANA SHINE ON YOU CRAZY DIAMOND If you panned for gold as a child, received a beautiful piece of jewelry for a special occasion, or are just fascinated by sparkling precious stones, there are many specializations in the field of gemology to satisfy your interest in those "little bundles of perfection." Sally Eaton-Magnana's job as senior research scientist at the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) is to unwrap that little bundle of perfection, or precious stone, to reveal its history and tell its story to the gem's owner. Although it sounds a bit like an Indiana Jones movie, Sally's job is really very scientific. She works in a laboratory where she collects data and does research to grade diamonds submitted to the GIA for study. First she evaluates what are known as the four Cs—color, clarity, cut, and carat weight—of the diamond. Sally also determines if the diamond is natural, meaning earth-grown, or synthetic, meaning laboratory grown. "That determination is one of the most significant factors of a diamond's value," explains Sally. "We invest a lot of time collecting data and spectra (color and light) on each diamond to ensure we make an accurate determination for every diamond. In addition, we perform our own research on treated or synthetic diamonds for fundamental research on the atomic scale defects that cause color in diamond." Sally majored in chemical engineering in college and did not intend to pursue a career in gemology and jewelry. But when a college professor asked her to do undergraduate research in his lab, "I jumped into that research wholeheartedly," remembers Sally. "His research was to grow synthetic diamond by a chemical process called vapor deposition, taking methane gas and turning it into a diamond." She pursued gemology for her master's degree and received her Ph.D. in chemical engineering, but she studied under Professor John Angus who was a pioneer in this type of synthetic diamond growth. This work involved using diamonds not for jewelry, but as an electronic sensor of chemical weapons. "I did this research in the years following 9/11 and it was an important topic at that time." Unwrapping Little Bundles of Perfection BY SUE HAMILTON

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