GETTING CURIOUS | What Makes Gems So Precious? with Dr. Gabriela Farfan


We’re dripping in jewels this week on Getting Curious! What does it mean for a diamond to be “hard”? Are lab-grown gems made to perfection? What’s the difference between rubies and pink sapphires? Dr. Gabriela Farfan joins Jonathan to discuss the science and art behind the dazzling, multifaceted world of gems and minerals.

Dr. Gabriela Farfan is the Coralyn Whitney Curator of Gems and Minerals at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History. She began collecting minerals at a young age and turned her hobby into a career as a mineralogist, geochemist, and the first woman and Latina to become Curator-in-Charge of the National Gem Collection.

You can follow Dr. Farfan on Twitter @gabriela_farfan and on Instagram @the.mineralogist. The Smithsonian National Museum of American History is on Twitter @nmnh and Instagram @smithsoniannmnh.

Curious for more? Check out these resources from Dr. Farfan:

What is a Mineral?

The AMNH’s “GeoGallery”

Hope Diamond

Whitney Flame Topaz

Dom Pedro Aquamarine

Chalk Emerald

Carmen Lucia Ruby

Lion of Merelani Tsavorite Garnet

And check out these episodes from the Getting Curious archive:

Does Groundwater Go With The Flow?

How Does Dust Impact Earth’s Climate?

How Major Are Volcanoes?

Follow us on Instagram @CuriousWithJVN to join the conversation. Jonathan is on Instagram @JVN.

Transcripts for each episode are available at

Find books from past Getting Curious guests at

Our executive producer is Erica Getto. Our producer is Chris McClure. Our editor is Andrew Carson. Production support from Julie Carrillo and Emily Bossak.

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Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness