Geosciences Offering Unique Course in Gemstones

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Precious gemstones like emerald, sapphire, ruby and diamond will be discussed in this unique course, in addition to lesser-known gemstones and gem materials including quartz, tanzanite, tourmaline, topaz, opal, jades and turquoise.

The Department of Geosciences in the Fulbright College of Arts and Sciences is offering a unique introductory 3-credit course in the fall, "Gemstones: Science, Use, and History" GEOS-410 (4708), GEOS-510 (10937).

Gemology courses have been conventionally taught at Gemological Institutes in Los Angeles, New York, Hong Kong and London; however, a gemology course offered at the university level is unusual in North America.

Offered with no pre-requisites, the introductory class will introduce students to the science of gemology by addressing aspects of identification, geologic origins, mining techniques, synthesis, simulation and enhancement, global trends, and their use in jewelry, legend and history.

Emerging sites and gem materials like fine quartz and turquoise in Arkansas will be addressed as well. Class instruction and discussion will include the world of gemstones, gemology and gem materials for novices and specialists in the field alike. 

Instrument training in the gemological sciences will include binocular microscopes, rectified hand-loupes, refractometers, polariscopes, spectroscopes, fluorescence and hardness testing.

The course will be taught by University Professor Tom Paradise, who comes from a rare background that combines geography, geology and cartography with gemology and art history.

Paradise earned his gemology degrees from the Gemmological Association of Great Britain (FGA) with Goldsmith Hall in London, the Gemological Institute of America (GIA-GG) in Los Angeles, in addition to certification as a Gemologist-Appraiser (CGA) and Registered Jeweler (RJ) from the American Gem Society.

Before Paradise entered academia as a geosciences professor, he was the director of the Gems & Jewels Department at Butterfield's and Bonham's Auction Houses in San Francisco and London.

This hands-on course will be held in a laboratory setting with faceted gemstone samples, rough material and gem identification instruments used throughout the semester from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday evenings. 


Tom Paradise, professor
Department of Geosciences


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