Previous: Insect Adventure, Part Two
Next: Insect Adventure, Part Three



View count:230,219
Last sync:2023-06-03 22:45
Wherein we open the vaults and unveil some of the shinier secrets from the Museum's geology collection!
To see more beautiful gems and jades, come visit the Grainger Hall of Gems at The Field Museum, or read:

Gems and Gemstones: Timeless Natural Beauty of the Mineral World, by Lance Grande:
Lost World of Fossil Lake: Snapshots from Deep Time, by Lance Grande

Big thanks to Lance Grande for his assistance in making this video possible. :)


The Brain Scoop is written and hosted by:
Emily Graslie

Created By:
Hank Green

Directed, Edited, Animated, and Scored by:
Michael Aranda .

Filmed on Location and Supported by:
The Field Museum in Chicago, IL

Rosa McGuire, Martina Šafusová, Tony Chu, Seth Bergenholtz, and Kelleen Browning deserve a round of applause for translating this episode.

Emily: Today we're gonna go into the gem room with Lance Grande who is the distinguished... curator... I forgot the name.

Lance: Distinguished service curator.

E: Distinguished service curator. And like my position, there's only one!

L: Well, I'm also the curator of gems by default.

E: Oh, right.

L: Which is the connection there. 

E: Yeah, and which is what we're going to go look at today.

The Gem Room

L: You know gems- they're beautiful in themselves, but they also show human artistry with the designers' work and all the jewelry, but they show natural beauty, too, just with the crystal form.

E: Yeah.

L: I mean some of these I liked even better in their native form than after they've been cut. And, you know, since we are a natural history museum, it's an important thing, I think, to pull it into natural history, too.

E: Yeah.

L: This stone is a beautiful emerald-colored tourmaline, and it's set in a

E: Okay.

L: Victorian setting of, I think it's platinum and diamonds.

E: Oh my gosh.

L: This is diamonds and a giant baroque pearl, probably set in 18-karat white gold.

E: That's amazing. That's huge! It doesn't even look real.

L: It is! It is real, don't drop it.

E: I'll put it on. Oh, that's beautiful. I can see where people are like, "oh, I like looking at that."

L: That's probably a $40,000 ring.

E: Oh my gosh, this is my college- This is my college tuition, right there. Yeah, I can put that back in.

L: Oh here's a tourmaline, but this is a special- it's called a paraiba tourmaline. Tourmaline is one of those stones that comes in every color of the rainbow, and the color is everything in a lot of these stones. The chemical composition is exactly the same, you know, the only difference is just a trace element

E: Really?

L: that caused the color to change a little bit. It's the same for diamonds. You have white diamonds- the ones that are clear- and you have red, and blue, and green, and all the colors. And you know, they're all basically pure carbon with just a trace element in there that gives them this shade.

E: Yeah.

L: And again, the differences in value are astounding, you know. A 2 carat white diamond is you know, it's valuable- you could probably find one for $10,000 of, you know, medium quality,

E: Mhmm.

L: but a 2 carat red diamond would probably cost you $5 million.

E: Oh my gosh! Just because of the rarity? Or the recurrence?

L: Just because of the rarity. And this is an amethyst, piece of amethyst. Amethyst used to be very rare, and very expensive,

E: Mhmm.

L: but then, oh, a century ago, they found these massive deposits in Brazil.

E: Really?

L: And the price of amethyst plummeted. This is another odd piece here,

E: Yeah, I was gonna- it looks like melted glass.

L: This is actually a low quality emerald.

E: Really?

L: Uh huh, it's- if this was a prettier green, it would be totally priceless, 'cause it's a very clear piece. Because of the shade, they just lump it together with aquamarine or sometimes call them pale green beryls,

E: Okay.

L: but basically it's the exact same composition as emerald.

E: Wow.

L: And it just didn't get quite green enough. If it had, you know, god, I can't imagine how much this would be worth.

E: Yeah, and they carved it. They carved deer into it.

L: There are some people who their artistic medium is carving gems, gems like diamonds, which is really difficult, because the only thing you can carve them,

E: Because you have to carve them with another...

L: yeah, with other diamonds. Here's another paraiba tourmaline and diamond necklace. This is a very rare color of tourmaline. Oh yeah, here's a jadeite necklace, which it all fits together even. This clips on here somewhere, but you'd have to have a pretty sturdy neck to even wear something like this.

E: Yeah, is it heavy?

L: Here you go.

E: Oh, yeah. That is... not light.

L: Not light at all.

E: This would weigh on you after an evening out at the gala.

Michael: What would you compare it to?

E: How heavy it is?

M: Yeah.

E: It-

L: Like rock.

E: Yeah, like rock, like that's exactly what it is, if you had- If you were wearing 3 dozen marbles around your neck, that's kinda what it feels like.

L: Well it is jade too, and jade is not only heavy, but this is the toughest of the gems.

E: Really?

L: Toughness and hardness are completely different qualities. I mean, a diamond is the hardest substance in the universe, but if you drop it on the floor it could shatter.

E: Really.

L: This is much softer than diamond, but if you drop it on the floor, it's not gonna break. In fact, they used to make anvils out of this in Asia.

E: Out of jade?

L: Mhmm.

E: I didn't know that.

L: These are golden pearls.

E: That's pretty.

L: It's a particular species of mollusc that makes them. I believe they're worth a premium over white pearls.

E: Woah!

L: Now here's something. This is an expensive piece here.

E: The others haven't been?

L: This is about a quarter of a million dollar necklace here.

E: Oh my god!

L: It's called Kunzite, that's what the pink stone is, and then tsavorite garnet, which is the green, which is one of the rarest and most expensive of the garnets. Yeah, that's a nice- Do you want to try wearing it?

E: Do- YEAH!

L: There you go.

E: Katie, you should take that.

L: We'll put it on.

E: Oh my gosh!

L: I think that's it.

E: Oh my god.

L: Yeah, there it is. Voilà.

E: How's it look?

L: There it is. You look like a million bucks.

E: I am probably worth a million bucks right about now. This is amazing! Oh my gosh! I feel fancy. I feel like I could just go on the public floor right now and be like...

L: It goes really well with the bug earrings, too.

E: I need my butler! Yeah, these were like 10 bucks at H&M. That was the most exciting thing I've probably done all year.

L: So like here's a bin that just has pearls. These are all pretty sizable pearls. There's pink, white, multi-colored just like golden, and Tahitian, and white.

E: I would just misplace that, like, my little bag of... rubies.

L: Rubies? Yeah, this is a little bag of rubies, which are just red sapphires. Here's a light colored, which it's almost a white sapphire.

E: Wow.

L: It has a certain amount of brilliance- it's not like a diamond.

E: Yeah.

L: I mean, that's the other quality of diamond, the way it diffracts light.

E: Mhmm.

L: You know, it breaks it up into little rainbows. That's why when you see a really good diamond, you see all these different colors coming from it.

E: Yeah.

L: It's the way it handles light. If you look at a sapphire, you won't see anything near that. You pretty much just see white flashes when you see it.

E: Mhmm. Yeah. It's shiny. It's pretty.

L: It's shiny, sure. Shiny and pretty, but you can make a piece of glass look that way too.

E: Oh, yeah.

L: Another c- thing we have a lot of is gold. Probably the most common gold we have are these nuggets. There's a sizable gold nugget.

E: Woah! That's pretty heavy.

L: That would be- How many ounces is that? 12 ounces.

E: Wow. That's pretty heavy.

L: You figure gold's now, $13,000 an ounce.

E: Yeah.

L: Crystalline gold is pretty rare. Most raw gold you see in its native form comes in the form of dust or nuggets, but it's very rare to find gold that is actually formed in natural crystal. I think this is a fairly ugly piece of jewelry. It is gold.

E: Yeah, well I mean it's like interlocking.

L: It needs to be cleaned up.

E: Yeah. Yeah.

L: It's kinda snake-y looking.

E: Oh it is. I like the design of that. But it does look like, you know.

L: It needs to be cleaned up.

E: Yeah. See, if this was on, if this was like in a case at a thrift store, like in one of the front cases, I wouldn't be able to tell that it was fancy gold.

L: Here's a diamond just how it came out of the mine, uncut. But you can see how these things look in their native form again.

E: Oh, wow!

L: It's a natural diamond crystal.

E: It's kind of pretty when it's uncut.

L: [Here's a] coin that was made in Russia, but it was made a long time ago.

E: Oh.

L: It was made at a time when platinum wasn't so valuable. So they actually made it out of platinum and gold plated it,

E: Oh!

L: and eventually platinum became more valuable than gold.

E: Than gold.

L: And so, it's kind of a historic piece.

E: That's fun. What is that matrix-looking thing?

L: That is a Selenite crystal, just a natural crystal.

E: Wow. It's beautiful.

L: Isn't it? It's just the way somebody chopped it out of a cave. Here's a piece of boulder opal.

E: Wow. I've never seen one so blue! It's actually the reds that are the rarest parts of these. Blue and greens are the more common color in precious opal. If you get blue, green, and red, then it becomes pretty valuable. This is gold, diamonds, rubies, and jadeite. A butterfly pin. That's all solid gold.

E: Oh my gosh! I don't even know- what would you take this to?

L: I don't know, but here, I can open it for you.

M: The opera.

L: There you go.

E: I guess, yeah, I would go to the opera.

L: You can put your gold coins in there I guess.

E: Oh man. You could just take the purse.

L: Isn't that strange?

E: That's amazing, it's so heavy. It's really dense.

L: And if you had that actually nowadays, no one would believe it was solid gold.

E: No, I don't even believe that this is solid gold.

L: They'd probably think, huh, it's some cheap brass thing.

E: This seems impractical. Like, would my iPhone fit in this?

Could we- I don't- Oh! Nope.

L: It might. Nope.

E: See? I'm not gonna take it 'cause my iPhone couldn't fit in it.

L: Yeah, we have to go back to the iPhone 4 and it would fit.

E: Oh, yep! iPhone 4 users.

L: And I'm not sure why you need the supplemental purse, then, too, because

E: It just- 

L: this is already kind of a change purse, so.

E: Why would you be carrying loose change if you had that amount of money?

L: Well you could carry your gold nuggets in there, see?

E: Yeah!

L: You'd be all gold, all the time. Here's a large topaz, blue topaz.

E:  Wow. It's like as big as my face.

L: That's too big for bling.

E: Yeah, well, I could- I think I could wear it, though. No.

M: It'd make a nice engagement ring.

E: Yeah! Right there?

L: Oh, and here's a really nice aquamarine crystal. Natural crystal. You'd get some sizable stones out of that one if it were cut.

M: It kinda looks like the things that Superman uses in the Fortress of Solitude.

L: Oh yeah, right! Putting them into the-

E: Yeah.

L: console there, and all the structures pop out of nowhere.

M: Yeah!

L: These are red garnets here in a schist.

E: I love the way garnets form! 'Cause they're so cut, they're perfectly cut already, almost.

L: Isn't that cool. Well here's a rose quartz bowl.

E: Oh, woah.

L: This is all carved out of rose quartz.

E: Just one piece?

L: One piece, mhmm.

E: Oh my gosh.

L: That- somebody took some time on that.

E: Yeah.

L: Ah, and here's a crystal ball, carved out of clear quartz.

E: Oh my god.

L: This is what they used to use for telling fortunes.

E: Can you tell my fortune? Can you read my future in this crystal ball?

L: I think you're gonna be on YouTube.


E: It still has brains on it.