Passing Stones

"All of my gems," Mother Earth says, "are precious to me." It's just that some are worth millions of dollars because of a two-party oligarchy of merchants choking the supply, which leads to an inflated market value, while others are relegated to just sit and be silently beautiful. And some of those more-desirable rocks have led to obvious atrocities such as the RUF cutting off people's limbs in Sierra Leone (see Blood Diamond and Kanye West for a full backstory), as well as less-apparent travesties such as the creation of a sickening relationship between the value of a gem and the amount of "romance" or "love" or "bling" the person possessing said gem enjoys.

While everyone knows about boring ol' diamonds, there are, in fact, other precious stones out there. Precious colorful stones that a geologist or gemologist (yes, there is such a thing) might find thrilling in their daily work may also be of interest to ordinary baby blingers like us.

In an effort to remind everyone of the variety of Earth's wondrous bounty, the Bowers Museum recently unveiled their newest exhibit, "Gems! Colors of Light and Stone," featuring collector stones that are too rare to be used in the kind of jewelry that anyone reading this could buy, antique jewelry (show me a woman who doesn't appreciate antique jewelry, and I'll show you a heart of stone. Get it? Stone?), and uncommon color varieties including something called a green tanzanite. Tanzanite! Even the word shimmers.

"Gems! Colors of Light and Stone" at the Bowers Museum, 2002 N. Main St., Santa Ana, (714) 567-3600; . Tues.-Sun., 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Through June 16, 2008. $12-$19.


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