first water

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The term originated in the gemstone trade, where it was used to signify water-like clarity.


English Wikipedia has an article on:

first water (uncountable)

  1. The highest quality of gemstones, especially of diamonds and pearls.
    • 1880, Cornwall, HB, “Gems and Precious Stones”, in Patterson, WM, editor, The Growing world; or, Progress of civilization, and the wonders of nature, science, literature and art, interspersed with a useful and entertaining collection of miscellany[1], page 20:
      To be the first water a diamond must be absolutely colorless, very lustrous, and perfectly free from flaws.
  2. (by extension) The highest rank or quality.

Derived terms[edit]