Gems: Treasures

from the Earth
A Reading A–Z Level S Leveled Reader
Word Count: 1,139



Treasures from
the Earth

Written by Molly Chen

for thousands of books and materials.

11 (bottom right). 11 (bottom left).readinga-z. left): © Anthony R. Inc. Written by Molly Chen Illustrations by Cende Hill All rights reserved. Kampf/Gem & Mineral Collection. page 16: © Steve Cole/Photodisc/Getty Images. page 4 (left): © www. 23: © Correlation LEVEL S Fountas & Pinnell Reading Recovery DRA O 34 34 . center. 17 (bottom). 21. page 17 (top): © Smithsonian Institution/Corbis. 14. page 5 (top): © Donald Meyer/Gem & Mineral Collection. pages 4 (top right). Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. page 9 (bottom): © Colin Keates/ Dorling Kindersley/Getty Treasures from the Earth Written by Molly Chen Photo Credits: Front cover. 22. pages 4 (bottom right). 19 (top): © Photos. bottom). page 15: Joseph Kriehuber/Public Domain Gems: Treasures from the Earth Level S Leveled Reader © Learning A–Z. page 19 (bottom): © Siede Preis/Photodisc/Getty Images. title 18 (right. 20 (bottom). Inc. 8. www.readinga-z. 22 (inset): © Learningpage. back cover. pages 10. pages 11 (top right). 5 (center. Los Angeles County Museum of Natural History. 20 (top).

. . . . . . . . . They are willing to spend thousands of dollars for even a small bit of that beauty. . . . . . . . . . . . 15 What Are Some Types of Gems? . . 6 Try This . . . 3 4 . . . . 10 What Makes Gems Valuable? . . 8 How Do Gems Get into Jewelry? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Many people consider gems to be Earth’s most beautiful creations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24 Many gems decorate the most beautiful and valuable jewelry. . . . 16 Conclusion . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Introduction Table of Contents Introduction . . . 13 Hardness and the Mohs Scale . . . . . . . . . . 23 Glossary . . . . . How Are Gems Formed? .

the atoms are arranged in neat. Every mineral is made of millions of particles called atoms. the natural. Crystals are special forms of minerals. natural pearl.How Are Gems Formed? There are three main types of gems. In most rocks. nonliving substances that make up most rocks. an organic gem (bottom) TRIGONAL MONOCLINIC Examples of Crystal Shapes 5 6 . orderly patterns. a stone (center). called faces. Crystals have flat sides. The first two. turquoise. CUBIC TETRAGONAL HEXAGONAL Garnet. are made of minerals. a crystal (top). The third group. organic gems. crystals and stones. are made by living things. But in crystals. Stones are mixed minerals that have beautiful colors and patterns but do not have strict shapes. Crystals are minerals that form in tight shapes and neat patterns. which form shapes. the atoms are mixed together.

the atoms form a regular crystal pattern. 5 Look at the crystals under a magnifying glass. a little at a time. until no more salt will dissolve. You can watch a much smaller version of this same process using just water and ordinary salt. 4 Place the cup somewhere warm in the Sun. also known as halite. Volcanic eruptions bring the diamonds to the surface. like diamonds. such as sapphires. form when the mineral is squeezed under layers of rocks. Most crystals form deep within the earth under very special conditions. Others. crystals will form on the toothpick and the sides of the cup. As it slowly cools. What do they look like? 8 . As the water evaporates very slowly. 3 Put a clean toothpick in the water. forms when salty seas evaporate. form when minerals dissolve in water. ry i Th s Make your own crystals! PR ES FR SUR GR OM E AV ITY TLE MAN HE AT HE AT DIAMONDS Rock salt.OF RS ’S E Y LA RTH T EA RUS C VOLCANO T MAGMA Diamonds are formed deep inside Earth’s mantle. Some. The squeezing forces the atoms to arrange themselves in the smallest shape possible. form when a mineral gets so hot inside the earth that it melts. Stir it until it dissolves. such as opals. the mineral left behind forms a crystal. 7 1 Mix a tablespoon of salt into a cup of warm water. And still other gems. As the water evaporates. 2 Keep adding salt.

Amber began millions of years ago as tree sap. Amber often contains the fossils of insects or spiders that got caught in the sap. “Coober Pedy” means “white man in a hole. In the Australian Aborigine language. Because gems are so small and rare. and they may have other minerals mixed in. 9 10 . Do You Know? Opals form when mineral-rich water evaporates from cracks underground.” Coral is made of skeletons left behind by millions of tiny sea creatures. Organic gems.The minerals in stones do not form orderly patterns. Miners must chip and cut at the rock. looking for stones within it. This leaves a streak of mineral crystal in the rock. How Do Gems Get into Jewelry? Most mineral gems are found deep within the earth. and coral. The oyster covers the grain with layers of the material it uses to build its shell. Streaks of crystal are called veins. Pearls begin when a Oysters grain of sand gets create pearls. Stones often form in layers that make streaks and lines. The best opals in the world are found in veins under the ground in the Australian desert town of Coober Pedy. come from living things. Opal mines are simple holes in the ground. which include pearls. mining is often still done by hand. called the grain. trapped inside an oyster’s shell. amber.

The rose cut was often found on older gems. 12 . Facets show off the gem’s color and pattern. A cut diamond reflects lots of sparkle.When a miner finds a gem. The oldest style of cut. The popular brilliant-cut style is often used with diamonds. It is most often used with opaque stones. dark marks. Most crystal gems are cut into flat surfaces called facets. Other gems. Gems often have cracks. Its surface looks dull. 11 BRILLIANT CARVING ROSE CABOCHON Cutting styles (top and side views) show gems’ best features. STEP An uncut diamond looks uneven and flawed. the cabochon (KAB-oh-shon). This style has many facets that reflect light off the gem. bubbles. can be carved into small shapes. such as jade and coral. and allow it to sparkle. Its shape is bumpy. and other flaws. is simply rounded and polished. Gem cutters cut gems into regular shapes that show off their best parts and cover their flaws. Deep green emeralds are often cut into a style called the step cut. it is often very rough.

13 14 . and clarity. Gems with dark marks. Do You Know? The word carat comes from the seeds of the carob tree. or how beautiful the natural gem is. no matter which tree or pod they come from. which grow in pods. Cut refers to how well the gem is cut and polished. Carat weight is the size of the stone. the more valuable the gem is. gems have bright.What Makes Gems Valuable? Gems are valuable because they are beautiful and they are rare. The different colors come from tiny bits of other chemicals mixed with the main mineral. Unlike regular rocks. pure. color. The value of a gem is determined by the gem’s hardness and a system called the “four Cs”: cut. a flawed emerald is more valuable than a flawless diamond. For centuries. The next of the four Cs. the same mineral can form different-colored gems. Gems that are cloudy are also less valuable than clearer gems. Clarity refers to how flawless the gem is. carat weight. but because they are so rare. This uncut emerald shows many cracks and other flaws. The stronger and purer the color. and bubbles are less valuable than gems without these flaws. color. But clarity is often not as important as the size and rarity of a gem. is one of the things that makes gems beautiful. cracks. Emeralds often have many flaws. One carat weighs about as much as a piece of unpopped popcorn. Red rubies and blue sapphires both contain the same mineral. The seeds are incredibly similar in weight. The modern carat weighs about as much as one carob seed. Often. jewelers weighed gems according to carob seeds. strong colors.

A gem can only scratch other gems that are softer than it is. flawed diamonds are often put on saws and drill tips. A geologist named Friedrich Mohs developed a scale to test the hardness of gemstones. and a penknife measures 5. or blue. can scratch anything but can only be scratched by another diamond. Africa ✓ ✓ North America ✓ ✓ ✓ South America Europe ✓ Asia Australia ✓ South Pacific ✓ ✓ Turquoise Sapphire Ruby Quartz Pearl Opal Jade Emerald Hardness indicates how pure and tightly structured the mineral is in a gemstone. red.5. Diamond. Orthoclase Quartz Topaz Emerald Diamond 6 4 5 3 2 1 7 8 9 Diamonds are extremely popular for engagement rings. the hardest substance on Earth. including metal and stone. Because diamonds can cut anything. a fingernail has a hardness of 2. Very rare diamonds can be yellow. For comparison. 15 16 .He simply scratched one gem with another.5. Diamond Hardness and the Mohs Scale ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ ✓ Gems Around the World What Are Some Types of Gems? Friedrich Mohs The Mohs scale measures the hardness of various gems. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 10 Talc Gypsum Calcite Fluorite Apatite Diamonds are the hardest natural things in the world.

January February Garnet Amethyst July August Ruby Peridot March April May June Aquamarine Diamond Emerald Pearl September October November December Sapphire Opal Topaz Turquoise 18 . The following is a current list of birthstones in the United States. is not the largest. or pencil lead. is exactly the same mineral as diamonds. In graphite.100 carats and was as large as a pineapple. The largest diamond ever found is the The Hope diamond is one of the Cullinan most famous diamonds in the diamond. but it is an unusual sky-blue color. leaving a pencil mark. Rubies are always blood-red or pink. Do You Know? Graphite. In diamonds. There are different lists of birthstones in different places. planets. no matter the color. flowers. It weighed over 3. Red raw ruby (left) and two raw sapphires. one blue and one yellow Do You Know? Birthstones were first worn in the Middle Ages. those same atoms have been squeezed together so tightly that nothing except another diamond can scratch them off. is considered a sapphire. which world. Any other form of the mineral. This makes graphite very soft—so soft that if you rub it on a piece of paper. and wealth. was discovered in South Africa. and gems. Your gemstone supposedly brought you good luck. the atoms break off.One of the most famous diamonds. protection. the atoms are arranged in loose layers. 17 Rubies and sapphires are made of the same mineral. Astrologers and fortune-tellers often associated birthdays with certain stars. the Hope diamond.

Jade can be lavender. but people prize their color so much that emeralds are more valuable than diamonds. The quartz family is the most common of all crystals. carving jade (above) 19 20 . Gemquality emeralds are rare and usually small. which is the most valuable. in all colors of the rainbow. Jade figurine (top). white.Emeralds are another kind of crystal and are known for their strong green color. Quartz is found all over the world. The most valuable quartz is a stone called opal. and almost every shade of green. Jade is one of the most beautiful stones. Quartz crystals are common and can grow very large.

Almost all of the beautiful round pearls in jewelry stores come from pearl farms. 21 Natural pearls (inset) are rare and oddly shaped. The oyster covers the bead with a special substance to create a perfectly round pearl. Blue-green turquoise often has pretty spots and streaks running through it. cultured pearls from pearl farms are round.Natural pearls are not perfectly round and are very rare. 22 . Turquoise is often specked and striped with black. Pearl farmers place a round shell bead into an oyster’s shell. Much of the world’s turquoise is set in silver. It takes an oyster many years to create a pearl from a tiny bit of sand.

5) facets (n. One day. Scientists can grow gems in the lab that are identical to the finest natural gems but cost a thousand times less.) flat surfaces of a cut gemstone (p.) lines and patterns made by layers of minerals in a stone (p. 12) organic gems (n. damaging both humans and the earth. 5) Beautiful gems can be found around the world. For centuries. tight patterns (p.) minerals formed in regular. 9) opaque (adj. 6) crystals (n. Mining gems with dynamite and strip mines is often dangerous.) tiny particles that make up all substances (p. created gems might help fill our desire for gemstones’ beauty while protecting Earth and its people. 11) grain (n. Conclusion atoms (n. people have killed and died for them. 23 24 .Glossary This strip mine clears an immense area of land.) not see-through (p.) gems made from substances created by living things (p.