public learns how the movements of enormous

Moving on to the next room in the 20,000-square-foot hall, the public will see some 40 of the best-known cutstone creations in the world, drawn from the National Gem Collection. Perhaps the most sumptuous is the diadem that Napoleon gave to Empress Marie-Louise on the occasion of their marriage. I had a backstage look at this discount tiffany (bottom right) when I visited the hall with Jeffrey Post, the research geologist and curator of the National Gem Collection who is overseeing the entire project. Post introduced me to Deborah Dubois, the jewelry artisan who has spent a good loo hours virtually rebuilding the elegant diamondstudded crown.

"The diadem came to us from Marjorie Merriweather Post," explained curator Post. "The original big stones were emeralds, but Van Cleef and Arpels took them out in the 1950s to sell them individually and replaced them with turquoise. It was in sad shape. The old soldering was broken in places and the piece had lost its luster." Dubois had a diagram showing the position of all the1,000-plus diamonds and 79 turquoise stones. She removed the epoxy with which some modern tinkerer had secured the stones, and set them back in their prongs as originally designed. When I saw the diadem it was sprawled across her table, the newly washed diamonds all alight.

For lovers of gem history, Post pointed out, the 1950s were a disaster. People were tired of the past and discount tiffany to move forward. Rich families in Europe, their fortunes reduced to their heirloom diamonds by the war, sold the gems to jewelers like Cartier or Van Cleef and Arpels, where the diamonds were often removed from their antique settings and recut to modern taste. (Modern designs produced more facets, more sparkle.) But today, nostalgia is back, and many collectors mourn those lost antiques.

Post took me into the "Cage," a specimen-preparation room the size of a small gym, whose floor was completely covered with enormous rocks sitting on pallets. There were so many that staffers had to plan days ahead which pallet they would need where ("It's like a ballet, moving 'em around") before they called for a forklift. Rocks. I saw a topaz as big as a bushel. A boulder of jade. Sheets of mica the size of a newspaper. A bathtub-size meteorite. A mattress of lava. An amethyst bigger than a football. "Some of these specimens had been in the old hall for 40 years," Post told me. "They were so dusty and grimy I wondered why we were displaying them." He wet a finger and rubbed the facets of the huge amethyst. Instantly it turned from a rock into a gem. "So we've been cleaning them and discount Tiffany Bangles them in shape. The designers and bracket makers have their job cut out here, because these things are so heavy. Oh yes, and we have to have a database for all this stuff so we know where it all is."

Moving from small to large, we then entered the Plate Tectonics Gallery. Here, aided by a big-screen TV theater presentation at the beginning of the exhibition, and videos and computer interactives along the way, the public learns how the movements of enormous plates cause most of the earth's geologic activity-from earthquakes and volcanoes to the formation of mountains, which are nothing but a ruckedup rug on a rather larger scale.

There is also an impressive globe six feet high that shows our planet minus the oceans, making the vast plates stand out discount Tiffany Bracelets. Elsewhere a huge computer-generated map of the world depicts all the volcanic eruptions and quakes since 1960, demonstrating how they fall into patterns outlining the plates: the so-called Ring of Fire rimming the Pacific, for example. The rest of the gallery consists of a travelogue of other places in the world where plates are on the move: Iceland, where they are pulling apart; California's San Andreas Fault, where two plates are sliding past each other; and the Cascades of Washington State, where one is slipping beneath the other.