Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

A Gem of a Hobby: Gemological Training Caught Nashville Banker's Fancy

Academic journal article ABA Banking Journal

A Gem of a Hobby: Gemological Training Caught Nashville Banker's Fancy

Article excerpt

Every banker knows the 5 Cs of credit. But CEO Deborah Cole may be the only one who also knows the 4 Cs of diamond grading: Color, Clarity, Cut, and Carat weight.

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Cole also could tell you things you never even knew there were to know about evaluating pearls and colored gemstones such as rubies--and some of the myths about them. For instance, you do not use your teeth in testing pearls. And while a diamond will scratch glass, an encounter between a hammer and a diamond will go badly for the jewel. Besides holding a business doctorate and being president and CEO of the nation's oldest continuously operated minority-owned and operated bank, Cole is a graduate gemologist, accredited by the Gemological Institute of America.

When she's working at her alternate calling, you won't find Cole far from her "loupe." This is the eyepiece used for a close look at stones. It's essential, she explains, "unless a stone is outrageously bad." Evaluation requires study with the right tools and a trained eye.

Gemologists learn their craft both at the Institute, based in Carlsbad, Calif., and via a combination of distance learning and hands-on training conducted in cities around the world. Cole became interested in her unusual avocation when she met jeweler Chuck Koehler in Nashville, home to her Citizens Savings Bank & Trust Co. "I like jewelry," says Cole, "and I wanted to know something about what I was buying."

Cole opted for a multi-year regimen of distance learning and periodic trips for live training, explaining that she couldn't just stop work: "Hey, I had to pay the bills. …

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