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 Syllabus

Course Webpage

 Distance education offered

 Non-specialist course

Learning Goals

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

  1. Recognize valuable gems and metals and identify factors that contribute to their value.
  2. Sharpen your observations of nature and make connections between science and everyday life.
  3. Start thinking like an Earth Scientist! You should be able to identify a wide variety of rocks, metals, minerals, and gemstones and say how it formed and what it is made of.
  4. Identify the steps needed to go from discovery of a gem or metal deposit to bringing the end product to the consumer
  5. Be aware of the broader social, economic and environmental implications of mining practices in different parts of the world and how these practices affect the market value of gems and/or metals.
  6. Identify and describe current and historical gem and metal localities in Canada and around the world and appreciate how they impacted settlement, infrastructure, and the local economy.

See also learning goals for non-specialist courses.


Emily Scribner

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 three 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.


A full list of activities and assessments included in this course can be found in the Course Syllabus.


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