“Treasures of the Earth: Gems” is an interesting, almost fascinating, NOVA documentary about…yes…gemstones. I admit I knew next to nothing about gems before watching this, except for one thing. I *did* know that diamonds are really nothing else than pieces of carbon made inordinately hard by some physical process. In plain English, diamonds are made of the same element as coal…or pencil lead.
What I learned from this production: diamonds come from the interior of the Earth and come to the surface through volcanic eruptions, other gemstones are products of plate tectonics, sapphires are more rare than diamonds, sapphires and rubies are really the same thing, jade is actually two different kinds of mineral, ordinary rain water plays an important role in the formation of opal, and dinosaur fossils in Australia occasionally “opalize” when said opal replaces the common rock fossils are usually made of. Wow!
It´s difficult not to wax philosophical when reflecting over our propensity for glittery pieces of carbon, silicon or whatever the gems are really made of. Thus, sales of so-called blood diamonds finance many African warlords. One of the most unique gemstones in the world, the supposedly cursed Hope diamond, gets its blue color (and its worth of 100 million dollars) from an impurity which only lets through the blue wave-length of light. Yes, a chance impurity in a small piece of carbon is worth more than your life savings…
Seriously, where do I sign up? :D
Recommended. And no, it´s not narrated by Leonard Nimoy.