When we want to learn more about where gems come from or merely wish to enjoy the mineral kingdom's infinite diversity, we head to some of our favorite museums.
Watch for special gem exhibits close to your hometown. Or, take a virtual tour of exhibits you may have missed by clicking on one of the tabs under Past Exhibits.
The American Museum of Natural History
Central Park West at 79th Street, New York City
Since the museum's first mineral collection purchase in 1874, the AMNH has featured some of the world's most important gems and minerals. Today, the museum's collections comprise more than 100,000 minerals and 3,700 gem specimens. The Tiffany-Morgan gem collection is not to be missed.
GOLD, a special exhibit featuring more than a ton of gold, is on display until August 19, 2007.
The Natural History Museum of Los Angeles Country
900 Exposition Boulevard, Los Angeles, CA 90007
The 6,000 sq. foot E. Hadley Stuart, Jr. Hall of Gems and Minerals is one of the best places to learn about gems and minerals. It houses more than 2,000 specimens along with mining artifacts and memorabilia. Interactive learning, legends and diagrams provide explanations of gemstone origins and diversity. We especially like their collection of California minerals and gemstone carvings. Inside the Hixon Gem Vault, see gems in their surprising varieties, including star rubies and rare colors.
Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History
Located at the intersection of 10th Street and Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, D.C. 20560
Here's where you'll find the famed Hope Diamond, important pieces of jewelry owned by the truly rich and famous as well as a treasure trove of amazing gems. The Smithsonian's National Gem and Mineral Collection includes more than 375,000 individual specimens as well as minerals used by earth scientists and researchers from around the world.
Until September 23, 2007, visitors can enjoy a guest appearance by the famous fancy yellow Tiffany Diamond “Bird on a Rock” Brooch.
Houston Museum of Natural Science
One Hermann Circle Drive
Houston, TX 77030
The Cullen Hall of Gems and Minerals houses a dramatic collection of mineral crystal and gem specimens. Leisurely viewing of the more than 750 pieces is enhanced by the exhibit's layout and lighting. The science-minded will want to tour the nearby Eby Hall of Mineral Science. An unusual treat for gem-lovers is the museum's new Lester and Sue Smith Gem Vault. Open since November 2006, the vault houses faceted gems fashioned from rough especially procured by the museum's curators.
Click on these links to virtually visit gem and mineral exhibits you may have missed:
For pearl lovers and those who haven't yet discovered the wonder of these organic gems. A 2001-2002 exhibit at the American Museum of Natural History.
Totems to Turquoise
North American Native American jewelry arts, from the 2004-2005 American Museum of Natural History exhibit.
The Nature of Diamonds
Probably the most comprehensive and awe-inspiring diamond exhibit in recent memory, from the 1997-1998 American Museum of Natural History exhibit.
The Splendor of Diamonds
This 2003 exhibit at the Smithsonian told the fascinating story of colored diamonds with seven rare and important jewels.
Gems! The Art and Nature of Precious Stones
This 2002-2004 exhibit of more than 300 gems from a private collection included massive crystals, rare jewels, a tiara and other magnificent jewelry. No less amazing were the collections of gemstone carvings by German and American artists, all at The Bowers Museum in Santa Ana, Calif., itself a little gem of a museum.