Saturday, November 20, 2010

Brazilians flaunt Kate's engagement ring, for 3 dlrs

A three dollar ring like this would have a Sapphire made of glass!!

AFP - Saturday, November 20

RIO DE JANEIRO (AFP) - – Britain's upcoming royal wedding between Prince William and Kate Middleton has sparked a fever in Brazil, with Rio residents snapping up three-dollar copies of Princess Diana's engagement ring.

Shops selling the cheap imitations of the 45,000-dollar sapphire-and-diamond encrusted piece of jewelry the prince gave to Middleton have been overrun by Brazilians wanting to share in the glamor of the occasion, the O Dia daily reported.

"The original item was on the fingers of princesses and queens, and that helps the ego for just about anybody," said Raquel Pontes, a 27-year-old teacher trying on one of the cut-price copies.

Shopkeepers were rubbing their hands together at the thought of a Christmas-time sale boom of the rings.

For Brazilians wanting a replica with a bit better quality, online vendors were also offering versions for significantly higher prices.

Brazilian fever over the wedding was further fueled after Middleton made an appearance wearing a blue dress by London-based Brazilian designer Daniella Issa Helayel when her engagement was announced.

Copies of that dress were also flying off the shelves in Rio, almost as fast as in London.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Completion of Unit

Far East Gemological intistute held a graduation ceremony for students who have completed the WSQ courses in the past months. Prof Hugh Bari was invited to give us a talk on Pearls

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Moh's scale

We learned more about the properties of gemstones today. Using the MOh's scale gems are given a number that indicates how hard there are. Rubies and Sapphires are 9 on the scale.This determines how gems are set into jewellery. You cannot use Kiyanite which is 4 on the MOH's scale to set in a ring. The stone would not last long. It is safer to set it into a pendant.One must take note that this scale gives only an order of relative hardness. For example Diamond is 10 on the scale and Corundum is 9 on the scale but diamond is actually 140 times harder than corundum

Moh's scale of hardeness
1 - Talc
2 - Gypsum
3 - Calcite
4 - Fluorite
5 - Apatite
6 - Felspar
7 - Quartz
8 - Topaz
9 - Corundum
10 - Diamond

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Introduction to the wonderful world of Gemstones

Amethsyt crystals in marble matrix.This piece came from a mine in northern Vietnam

Out of the 10 people attending this class only three were working in the trade.As usual, the first class is always the easiest.

Out of about 4000 minerals that have been identified only 90 of them have the beauty and durability to be sought after by man. Out of these 90, 20 are inportant in the trade

We were taught about how Gemstones are grouped according to their similarities of chemical composition.For example under the Corundum group we have 2 species- Rubies and Sapphires.Sapphires come in different varieties like blue sapphires,yellow sapphires and pink sapphires.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Certificate in retail- advice customers on Gemstone Products

I signed up for one more course before funding ends on 30th November.

This Certificate is jointly awarded by Singapore Poly and Far East Gemological institue.
At the end of the course I am suppose to know how to advice my customers on the different types of gemstones.

Friday, November 5, 2010


Students from the Higher Certificate class learning how to fell a tree with a chainsaw

After the Certificate one can choose to upgrade further by enrolling in the Higher Certificate

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Hands on modules

Pruning shrubs manually with a pruning sheare
Operating a Hedge Trimmer
Spraying chemicals on pest infected plants
It was really hot under the raincoat

Operating a lawn mower
Knapsack cutter
Rubbing in the top dress into the turf

The classroom modules were a walk in the park. We had 4 modules that had to be completed outside the class.

The first one was conducted at West Coast Park where we learned how to operate a Hedge Trimmer.

We got to plant trees at Bedok Reservoir Park

Learned about the procedures in spraying chemicals at Tampines Sun Plaza

The final test was at Choa Chu Kang where we learned how to operate lawn mowers and Knapsack Cutters

Monday, November 1, 2010

Pest and soil media

Mulching helps retain moisture in the soil.It is a soil conditioner and not a fertilizer.

We got to explore the Botanical Gardens for these two modules. We needed to find samples of plants with pests or diseases.

The instructors were veterans of the industry. Most of them had been in this line since Singapore started planting trees to green the island n a massive scale.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

First lessons

The first lesson was pretty straight forward.We learned to identify the various tools used int he landscape industry.Two days were spent learning and we were tested on the third day.The tests were oral based.The examiner would ask you about 15 to 20 questions. This helps if you are not good in English.If your examiner understood Malay or Mandarin the candidate can use either language to answer the test.The questions asked were not difficult.In fact everyone looked forward to the test day as we get to go back by 2pm

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Potting yard

Potting yard at the Singapore Botanical Gardens.Apart from classrooms,there are two cool houses for plants.The gardeners come here to rest during their lunch break

The course started on 1 October 2010 and was to end on 4 November 2010.

The classrooms are located in a little corner of the Singapore Botanical Gardens called the potting yard.We were introduced to some of the tools and materials used in the landscape industry.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Certificate in Landscape Operations

The certificate is made up of 10 modules.7 of them are core subjects while the remaining 3 are elective.The 7 core subjects are:

1) Identify lansdcape materials,horticultural products,irrigation components and
tools used in the industry

2) Prepare to work within the landscape industry

3) Recognise plants and their growth requirements

4) Recognise pest, diseases, invasive and noxious plant species

5) Prune plants (not exceeding 3 metres)

6) Improve soil and media

7) Workplace health and safety - Operations

There are 6 elective subjects but we only needed to take up the first 3 listed

1) Plant, mulch and maintain planted areas

2) Safe use and handling of non-hazardous chemicals under supervision

3) Maintain amenity turf and open grassed spaces

4) Perform formative pruning of plants

5) Produce plants from seeds and simple cuttings and division

6) Prepare media for propogation, potting or growing on


When WDA (Workforce Development Agency) was set up in 2003 there were only a handful of courses to train people in.Workers were sent to WSQ (Workskills Qualification) courses to attain competency in relevant jobs in the security, cleaning and landscape industries.7 years later you have a wide array of courses to choose from.

I had been planning to take up a course in the Food and Beverage industry for quite some time. I resigned from my job in August and send in my application to the At-Sunrice Academy.The course in question was to lead to a Certificte In Food Preparation. The couse recuiter told me that my 'O 'Levels Maths result was not good enough to make the cut and told me to take a short exam to get a statement of attainment in numeracy skills.

I took the test with SSA consultants and passed. It was too late for the Food Preparation course so I decided to take up the Certificte in Landscape Operations from CUGE (Centre For Urban Greenery And Ecology).CUGE, I found out later, was a join venture between WDA and National Parks Board.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Back to school

It has been 7 years since I last went to school for training.It was not so easy back then to get the government to fund your training. It was administered by the Skills Development Fund (SDF). You need your comany's human resource department to send in the paperwork.If your bosses agree to send you for training there were usually a bond involve.This bond can last from 6 months to a year.I got approval to attend a course conducted by TMIS. It was an UFTA Dilpoma.The travel agent that I worked for would send in the paperwork and the cheque for 10 percent of the course fees.I had to reimburse the course fees from deductions to my pay. This was illegal but I agreed to it as I was eager to get certified.

I had to attend classes 3 times a week in the evenings. It was tiring and I screwed up in the exams.