EOSC 118 · Earth's Treasures: Gold and Gems

Origin, properties, valuation, prospecting and geology of gold, platinum, silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious metals and gems. [3-0-0]

Course Availability & Schedule

Course Webpage

 Distance education offered

 Non-specialist course

Learning Goals

"Earth's Treasures: Gold & Gems" (EOSC118) aims to enable students to:

 - Be able to recognize valuable gems & metals.
 - Be able to apply this knowledge in their personal gem & metal investments.
 - Appreciate the processes needed to discover, mine, add value (facet and polish), and market these gems and metals.
 - Understand the gem industry in BC, Canada, & world.
 - Relate economic and social development in BC to past gold rushes & future discoveries.
 - Sharpen observations of natural materials.
 - Make connections between science & everyday life.

See also learning goals for non-specialist courses.


Dave Turner


"Rock and Gem"
Author: R.L. Bonewitz
ISBN-10: 0756609623

Students on or near the UBC campus can buy this book at Discount Textbooks, located in the UBC Village at the UBC Vancouver campus.  Students far from campus might find it easiest to order this book from an online bookstore such as  Amazon or ABEBooks.

Course Content

Origin, properties, valuation, prospecting and geology of:  gold, platinum, silver, diamonds, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, and other precious metals and gems.  The course will also touch on historical topics, current media, and aspects of the jewellery industry.

Lecture Topics

This course is divided into four modules and covers fundamental scientific concepts, diamond and coloured gemstones, precious and semi-precious metals, and the world of gems and metals from mining to the jewelery design processes.

Module A: “Rocks, Minerals and Gems”
Includes: Aspects of the jewellery industry and current events, as well as a geoscience introduction to help develop a framework for understanding the origins of precious gems and metals

Module B: “Precious Gemstones”
Includes: The world of diamond, the nature of colour and light, exploring tools of the trade, and coloured gems (emeralds, rubies, sapphires, and more!)

Module C: “Mining and Major Metals”
Includes: Gold, platinum and its precious relatives, silver, copper and precious metal alloys. We also investigate the mining of gems and precious metals (and implications), production aspects of the jewellery industry and finally touch on ancient numismatics.

See a detailed list of lessons, and a full sample of one of the lessons.


Students will be evaluated by 3 online quizzes and 1 final exam that is Face-to-Face.  One practice quiz will be given prior to the quizes that are for marks.  A portion of your grade will also come from participation in the discussion boards.