EOSC 118 (3 cr): Earth’s Treasures: Gold and Gems


Course Description

Origin, properties, valuation, prospecting and geology. Gold, platinum, silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds, and other precious metals and gems. A survey course to introduce students to concepts in materials science (such as crystal structures and physical properties), geology, and geophysics through the study of precious metals and gems. The course takes advantage of current research in EOS with respect to mineral exploration, especially gold, diamond, and coloured gems. It will be directly relevant to learners via their purchases of valuable jewelry during their lives, and it relates to important industries in British Columbia.

Brief outline of curriculum

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.

Student assessments

  • Mini “check your understanding” question sets
  • Learning objective activities
  • Online quizzes
  • Sketching activities
  • Essay activity
  • Invigilated final exam




Bonewitz, Ronald Louis, Rock and Gem (paperback), 2005, ISBN: 9780756633424

Available from:
Pacific Museum of the Earth Gift Shop
6339 Stores Road,
EOSC Main Bldg.
University of British Columbia
Hours: 11AM – 3PM
Contact: 604 822-6992 or pme@eos.ubc.ca

The UBC Bookstore also has copies of the textbook available. Please check the form below:

EOSC118 Textbook Order Form