As teachers present the continent folders and culture studies, children learn about their interconnectedness to all life on earth. The teacher uses Gemstones in a Box to describe the formation of the earth. Our gemstones are the concrete representation of the events that formed them.
Gems have been part of human history for over 20,000 years. Originally, gemstones were formed of organic materials. Examples are coral (from the oceans), amber (from trees or the sperm whale) and vegetable ivory (tagua nuts). However, minerals, quarts and crystals formed these gemstones. They were all found in South Africa or Namibia by Cape Minerals
There are many different ways that gemstones are formed:
- Alluvial formations (Sapphire)
- Hydrothermal deposits (Quartz Crystal)
- Pegmatites (Black Tourmaline)
- Magmatic gems (Ruby)
- Metamorphic gems (Garnet)
- Gems formed in the deep mantle of the Earth (Kimberlite which produces Diamonds)
Most gems form naturally as minerals within the Earth, but others form as crystals. Solids, whose atoms are arranged in highly ordered repeating patterns called crystal systems. For centuries, people have used the terms “precious” and “semiprecious” to describe gemstones. However, gemologists and geologists now prefer to talk of gemstones in general; as a good quality “semiprecious” stone can be more expensive than cheap, poor quality diamonds (classified as “precious” stones).
A List of the Gemstones in a Box:
- Black Tourmaline – an agate that has a wide variety of colours
- Carnelian – a chalcedony, ranging from yellow-orange to yellowish-brown
- Amethyst – a crystalline quartz, the February birthstone
- Fluorite – a fragile gem, renowned for its fluorescence
- Andradite Garnet – one of the most sort-after forms of garnet, a rare stone
- Sodalite – opaque, blue stones, easy to cut
- Chalcopyrite On Galena – a copper iron sulfide mineral
- Quartz Crystal – a rock made up of tightly packed quartz grains, formed at high temperature and pressure, can range in colours from green, to brown to grey
- Calcite – an abundant mineral that is difficult to cut
- Agate – a variety of chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz, found in a wide range of colours
Size: a wooden box (without a lid), 16 x 16 cm / (6″ x 6″)
NOTE: all the gemstones vary in size and colour.