Blue Safari

IMG_2953S: A long time ago, I was the Executive Assistant for a gemstone wholesaler and jewelry manufacturer in the Pacific Northwest. I began as a gem sorter, or fluter. Using long tweezers, calibers, trays, loupes and a ton of light, I stared at gemstones all day long in order to create matched pairs of Australian sapphire. Fluters were required to take eye breaks every hour or so, because after awhile the blue simply blurred. Imagine! Finding the EXACT color of blue and matches of various cuts of colored gemstones 6mm and less, and seeing nothing but an infinite range of blues mixed with yellow, green, and flecks of aqua.

A: Fortunately, dark blue is my favorite color and staring at sapphires is fun. Even though I had an eye for detail, I didn’t last long as a fluter until I was asked to help in the office and then the CEO himself, where I worked for over two years. I learned about all of the colored gemstones of the world and a lot about the industry internationally.

F: It wasn’t until I volunteered as a dolphin spotter for the North Aegean Dolphin Project near Alonnisos Island this week in Greece that I remembered what it was like to stare at fifty shades of blue.

A: Shiny blue, twinkly blue, clear blue, slate blue, metallic blue, even blue that was bluer than blue. At one point, we sailed Odyssey into what seemed to be infinity, as there was no difference between the sea and the sky. There was no horizon.

R: Looking for dolphins in these waters was necessary to contribute to a scientific study on the four species of dolphins present in the National Marine Park of the Sporades. It was incredibly difficult and peaceful at the same time. We all hoped we’d spot them, even when the waters were tricky and played tricks on the eye.

I: I was lucky. I spotted a pod of striped dolphins about a mile out, which helped our team collect the data they needed for this population. Just like in my fluter days, I found the hours of quiet sorting illuminating and rewarding.


© 2015 Jess Rowell

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