Miss Robyn, a gemologist from Nash Jewellers, came to visit us on Monday to talk about minerals. What is a rock? What is a mineral?
Students loved exploring all of the samples she brought in.
She encouraged us to feel everything, examine, and investigate what was there. There were so many beautiful colours and shapes we could look at. Some things were smooth, others were bumpy. Some of us found our birthstones!
Robyn taught us about what properties a mineral has:
- has to be inorganic (not living)
- is a solid
- is naturally formed in the Earth
- has a crystal structure
- has a specific chemical composition (Robyn called it a recipe)
We learned how different minerals can have different colours because of ‘trace elements’ or impurities such as iron or magnesium. Robyn taught us about some of the different families of minerals such as:
- Quartz family–Quartz is a very abundant mineral. Amethyst is a type of quartz and is purple. Citrine is yellow quartz.
- Beryl family–Emeralds are part of this family. Emerald is green because of trace elements of chromium. Aquamarine is another example. It is blue.
- Corundum family–Sapphires are part of the corundum family. Did you know that sapphires come in every colour except red? When it is red, it is called a ruby. A ruby is also part of the corundum family.
Robyn talked briefly about diamonds. They are the hardest mineral on earth. A lot of mining for diamonds occurs in Northern Canada at Snap Lake. Canada follows strict labour and safety laws when it comes to mining. Below is a picture of Ekati Diamond Mine in Northwest Territories. “Ekati” means Fat Lake. The rings you see inside the holes are roads.
Do you have questions about rocks or minerals or mining?
What is your birthstone?