For those who might not be familiar with the term ‘water’ as applied
to I found the discussion in Richard Wise’s book, Secrets
of the Gem Trade, to be helpful. In it the author refers to ‘water’
as the combination of color and transparency. The author also refers
to ‘water’ as diaphaniety which pertains to “…a limpid quality, an
ultra-transparency that fine gems will exhibit.” He also adds that
’water’ "…is not to be confused with clarity but is a quality in
which light appears to pass through the stone as if it were totally
unimpeded, almost as if light were passing through a vacuum."
Without going into the rest of the discussion presented in the book,
it is noted that Golconda diamonds (or some of them) are reputed to
exhibit this extraordinary transparency.
On a personal note, one day while snorkeling in a reef-protected
body of warm Caribbean water, the water unlike most of the time,
seemed to be absolutely flat and still… not even the smallest,
tiniest, waves. Rather like a bath tub full of warm water than has
been left alone long enough to become perfectly still. As I floated
looking down through 90 feet of water, I realized the stillness
allowed the sunlight to pass right to the sandy floor below allowing
me to pick out even the smallest, crispest details. I couldn’t see
the ‘shafts of sunlight’ in the water but it illuminated the coral
forms and sea life unimpeded, like a spotlight.
At one point I even stretched out my hand to ‘touch’ the bottom as
the clear stillness of the water seemed to negate the distance to the
seafloor. It was as if it was just a couple of feet below me. Of
course I couldn’t, it was 90 feet away… but that’s the sensation I
had… the transparency of the water ‘drew’ me into the scene and was
so compelling that it seemed possible to reach out and touch the
sandy seafloor. At any rate that’s when I decided that the term
’water’ applied to gemstones was, for me, analogous to looking
through a pool of absolutely still, perfectly clear, well lit, warm
water. It doesn’t matter whether or not there is anything ‘in’ the
water (such as inclusions in gemstones), it is the absolute still
clarity of the water that draws the vision in, revealing all in an
That’s how I perceive ‘water’ in As Mr. Wise and Mr.
Surpin state, it is not easy to define.
I have no connection to Richard Wise or his book, just enjoyed
reading it. I do wish I had a connection to some warm Caribbean water
right now though. Unfortunately, I don’t.