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The Smithsonian is a renowned research center, dedicated to public education, national service, and scholarship in the arts, sciences, and history. Jeffrey E. A catalog record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

ISBN DK books are available at special discounts when purchased in bulk for sales promotions, premiums, fund-raising, or educational use. Physical properties Crystal systems and habits What is a gem?

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Visual properties Where do gems come from? Grading and evaluation Gem cuts The value of a gem What is a jewel? From sunken pirate ships to wicked diamonds to cities of gold, its sinister sparkle has a singular ability to bring out the very best and the very worst in each of us.

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History, mythology, or pure fantasy, the best stories all have that one thing in common: they all have something glittering at their heart. But this book is not a story.

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A story has a beginning, a middle, and an end. This book is a map, a codex, a tool to help you understand all of those other stories. The hard science; the facts. The story of stones is about beauty and desire, status and symbolism.

Gems were one of the first currencies, and to this day are the marker by which we judge monetary value. But what makes gemstones so valuable, so powerful? Gems have been considered both poisons and medicines and some actually arebarometers of everything from truth to danger.

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Occasionally their power even strays from the symbolic to the literal, resulting in cults, relics, and legends of cursed gems. Wars have been fought, industries have been created, and empires have risen and fallen, all in pursuit of that which is beautiful, valuable, and rare.

Surely to desire, to covet, is human. As is the tendency to worship, to adorn, one might even say to treasure.

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But what catches the eye? What draws us to anything?

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A bright color? A flash of light?

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What is it about gems that so uniquely compels and possesses us? How have these glittering bits of the world had such power over our hearts and our minds throughout history? Free will be damned. Este mj încă dating charlie pe shahs of sunset vmPFC also plays a vital role in our assessment of morality.

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But that singular human weakness for beauty and a collective obsession with gemstones goes deeper than emotional neurochemistry. Our need to see and possess glowing, shining jewels is as intrinsic to what we are, as to who we are. Another objective fact: we see certain colors more vividly and more clearly than we see anything else.

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And even more so to shine, and above all to sparkle. It was our first and still our most basic need—the need for water—that taught us to seek and to value that which glitters and shines. In a very real sense, sparkles equal life. The story of stones must be chipped away at, rock by rock. It is the very story of humanity.


From the crowns of the earliest chieftains, to modern diamond semiconductors, every age is the Stone Age. The story of stones is the story of us. Many of these began as mineral crystals that formed as a result of geological changes over millennia. The crystals are extracted, then cut, faceted, and polished to be used in jewelry and other decorative items.

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Organic gems are made of biologically derived matter, such as Three rock types Minerals Beveled, tabular crystal, typical of the mineral wulfenite Components of the Earth There are three major classes of rock: igneous, sedimentary, and metamorphic.

Igneous rocks are either formed from magma molten rock that has solidified underground, creating intrusive rocks such as granite, or has flowed onto the land or seabed, forming extrusive rocks such as basalt.