Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Science - A Girl's Best Friend: Resources

Magazine article Times Educational Supplement

Science - A Girl's Best Friend: Resources

Article excerpt

An exhibition shows off the royal diamond collection.

The dazzling Diamonds: A Jubilee Celebration exhibition at Buckingham Palace shows the many ways in which diamonds have been used and worn by British monarchs over the past two centuries - including an unprecedented display of the Queen's personal jewels.

There are the stunning coronation earrings and necklace made for Queen Victoria, which have been passed down and worn by Queen Alexandra, Queen Mary, the Queen Mother and Queen Elizabeth II. The exquisite necklace is made from 25 graduated, cushion-shaped, brilliant-cut diamonds with a central drop-shaped pendant weighing 22.48 carats. Then there is the dramatic Fringe Brooch, beloved of Queen Victoria, which the Queen Mother wore for her daughter's coronation in 1953.

Arguably the most charming item, however, is the beautiful miniature crown worn by Queen Victoria for her Diamond Jubilee. Tiny and delicate, it became a favourite for her to wear over a veil after the death of Prince Albert.

But if students are awed by the glittering spectacle, they can also be encouraged to learn more about the gems' life story; how they are hidden some 140-190km below the Earth's surface and only begin to emerge when confronted with immense pressure and scorching temperatures. Deep volcanic eruptions force them upwards. Then, once they are mined, they shimmer under the sun's light for the first time.

But, of course, this is not a swift process. Diamonds can take 1 to 3.3 billion years to form. Look at the spectacular display of colour as it refracts off a diamond and encourage students to think about what has happened during the jewel's lifetime: the beginning of life as we know it; the dinosaurs; the Romans; two World Wars and so much more. …

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