Introduction: Gems (01:42)
Gems and precious metals are important to civilization; they reveal geological and societal histories and enable technology.
Forged Beauty (03:54)
Important minerals lay underground and reveal aspects of Earth's geological history. A gemologist at Tiffany's & Co. describes and shows jewelry made at their workshop. Massive force is required to form gem stones; a geologist explains rock layers created by intense pressure and heat.
Nature's Building Blocks (06:28)
Diamonds are created hundreds of miles below Earth's surface; a chemist burns one into carbon dioxide using liquid oxygen and hot flame. Carbon comprises many types of matter; the atomic bonds of graphite and diamonds are compared; heat and pressure are key to how the chemical forms. The chemical is unstable, and wants its electron field filled; there are many combinations that fulfill the role, creating biomass, metals and gems.
Diamond Industry (04:14)
Diamonds embedded in kimberlite are forced to Earth's surface during volcanic eruption; the funnels left behind are environmentally taxing to mine. Ninety percent of American's diamonds go through New York; a dealer negotiates the sale of an expensive stone; a master cutter explains how he finds the cleavage grain of a gem; precise cutting is important to its brilliance.
Science of Light (02:30)
Marcel Tolkowsky used principles of optics and math to create the proportions of the ideal cut, which creates brilliance and fire. A physicist explains how crystals' shapes affects light behavior.
Famed Diamond (03:54)
The Smithsonian Institute houses the largest, finest, blue gem, the Hope Diamond; its value is connected to its origins and history; it was acquired by the London Hope family and gained a cursed reputation after being sold to American Evalyn Walsh McLean. Scientists study it and find traces of boron; the chemical alters the otherwise colorless stone by changing how it absorbs light.
Collection of Color (04:44)
Color is not indicative of stone type. Mike Scott discusses his diverse gem collection, and his journey from Apple CEO to gemologist; he analyses a sapphire, a stone rarer than diamonds, and formed by plate tectonics.
Many quality sapphires come from Sri Lanka; a gemologist examines a dangerous pit mine and its illam; he discusses the geological process that deposited the muddy gravel. Gems are sent to the city to be polished and shaped; a cutter explains the consideration given to each stone and his passion for the multigenerational family tradition. Sapphires are a variety of naturally clear and hard Corundum crystals; trace elements form their colors; chromium creates the rare red hue of valuable rubies.
Emeralds are rare, and mining them requires patience and explosives; they are formed of fluids resulting from plate tectonic collision. Miners blast a section of earth, and discuss past finds.
Gem values are created by markets, but also tradition; in Beijing, jade is highly prized; a dealer shows jewelry and explains its cultural importance. A specialist in ancient jade explains religious, historical and political customs connected with the stone. Jadeite and Nephrite are both referred to as jade, but chemically differ; traditional carving methods include pedal powered machines and abrasives; the rock is formed of strong crystal fibers, and makes resilient tools.
Most Opal is found in Australia; Black Opal comes from Lightning Ridge. Its value is related to its vibrant and varying colors; tiny spheres of silica scatter light and flash hues. Formation is hypothesized; water dissolved silica, flowed into stone and fossil crevices, then solidified.
Gem Stone Geology (04:52)
Earth is geologically active; plate tectonics create collisions and compressions; stone studies can reveal when those processes began. A geochemist examines inclusions in diamonds; the enclosed minerals are billions of years old. Diamonds and gems are important to geology, art and technology.
Credits: Gems (00:57)
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