Category Archives: Science & Faith

Reflecting Light

Most people have a hobby they adore. It can something that ignites the intellect or stills the mind. Hours can seem like seconds when spent doing what one thoroughly enjoys. My son loves Legos and he’s been collecting them for years.  During periods of stress, I’ve found that if I pick up a small set, he can spend an entire day assembling one and playing with it. His mind focuses so intently on building a functioning piece that everything else recedes into the distance. He describes working on Legos as his ‘happy place.”  (I have to remind myself just how much he cherishes them each time I step on one barefoot ’cause that hurts in ways that polite words cannot describe!)

For my daughter, it’s drawing.  She spends hours closeted away in her room with Manga books, drawing models, body positions, facial expressions.  It is not a stretch to say that she has even doodled all over her bookcases and bed set. But it brings her joy and I find myself treasuring a peek at life through her perspective. I’m able to see how she feels about something without her having to use words, something she is fairly short of to begin with, and so I cherish each little scrap of paper she draws on.


My “hobby” is jewelry and gemstones.  I’m fascinated by all of the different types of crystals, how they form under immense pressure, what trace elements give them their color, and where they are found geographically. I also love the history of gemstones and the methods for cutting them. Different types of cutting techniques are often associated with a specific era given the materials that were available to shape a gem. What was ‘ideal’ in the 1880’s is less than ‘ideal’ now because we can use computerized cutting to achieve more exacting dimensions. Gemstones have been sought after for thousands of years both as objects of beauty and even as medicine. Ancient Egyptians used certain stones as medicine and would place a stone under their tongue like we might a sublingual tablet to treat specific ailments. Gemstones are even specifically referenced in the Bible.

There is nothing I love more than visiting antique shops and estate jewelers even if I can’t buy anything. Every now and then I’ll trip across something absolutely incredible which I’ve only ever read about but never seen in person. I’m known to ask little old ladies in grocery stores about the rings they wear and I want to hear the story behind each piece if they are willing to share. Somehow, for me, there is something about a piece of jewelry that captures memory and history in an object which renders it more precious than the monetary value of it. I suppose in some ways, I feel a parallel between an object which is valuable because of where it came from and who gave it to me and humanity. We are more than the sum of our parts. We embody experience, history, memory, and value to those around us.

At any rate, perhaps the most important aspect of a gem from both a beauty and technical standpoint is how a gem captures and returns light to the viewer. Gems worth using for jewelry are typically intense in color and fairly free of internal characteristics that would cause them to look muddy. A well cut gem reflects light back up through the top of the gem so the viewer receives the maximum light refraction and sparkle. Here’s an example of what well cut versus poorly cut diamonds look like:


The diagram of the ideal cut diamond demonstrates that most of the light is returned through the top of the gem as I mentioned above. The poorly cut gem on the far right is not as beautiful to the viewer, because most of the light is lost through the side and back of the gem. There’s very little sparkle for the wearer to enjoy and it is far less valuable and beautiful.

Have you ever met someone who was just incredibly beautiful in their soul; the kind of person that you know has been to proverbial hell and back and still sees the beauty in life? The person who is so gentle and at peace that you would trust them to hold your hand in your darkest moment? I think in some ways we’re like gemstones. We’re each unique in our own way and we have inherent, intrinsic value. The question is: are we reflecting the light? Are we allowing God to cut us in such a way that His light is reflected outward to those around us? Do they see the beauty of His light in us? I hope that any brilliance I have is because of Him and that other’s feel His love and light in my life.