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  Mineral & Gem Gallery

The Museum’s newest gallery – the Mineral and Gem Gallery – displays “Beauty from the Earth” showcasing specimens from the Museum’s collections. Enjoy the amazing natural beauty of touchable minerals, beautiful gems, vibrant fluorescent and phosphorescent specimens, and a “crystal mine” of riches. Learn about the natural history, historical uses, and impacts of minerals and gems.

Minerals are solid, inorganic, naturally-occurring chemical compounds. Of the thousands of minerals that exist, only about 20 groups are considered gemstones. Precious gemstones [including diamond, corundum (ruby and sapphire), beryl (emerald and aquamarine), topaz, and opal] have the three qualities of beauty, durability, and rarity. Semiprecious gemstones (all other gemstones) have only one or two of these qualities. A gem is a gemstone that has been cut and polished to enhance its beauty.

Oftentimes, the natural occurring mineral is just as magnificent as the gem. For example, pictured left is a natural quartz crystal, the most common mineral in the Earth's crust. The exquisite crystal, donated by Bryant & Sons, Ltd. weighs 480 pounds, and can be seen and touched in the gallery.

Also, be sure to see this “watermelon-colored” tourmaline specimen. Tourmaline is among the most varicolored of all gemstones, occurring in virtually every color, with green and red being the best known. Tourmaline is actually not a single mineral species; it is a group of minerals, each of which share similar characteristics, but differ in chemical composition.

In the gallery is this very distinctive ornamental stone with bright red ruby crystals imbedded in rich green zoisite. Ruby is the red gem variety of the mineral corundum. It typically forms as six-sided crystals. The specimen displayed here is from a unique deposit discovered in 1954 in Longido, Tanzania.

There a many more spectacular specimens of “Beauty from the Earth” to see, so visit soon and learn more about the art and science of minerals and gems.


TOUCHABLE MINERALS

Botryoidal Fluorite
Botryoidal Fluorite forms this unique shape when many long, narrow crystals of a mineral grow radially from a common point: The word “botryoidal” is derived from the Greek word for grape-like.
Pyrite, or “fools gold”
Pyrite, or “fools gold,” is a common mineral that naturally forms into cubic crystals.

FLUORESCENT AND PHOSPHORESCENT SPECIMENS
While visiting the Mineral and Gem Gallery, be sure to stop by the fluorescent and phosphorescent case and see how long and short wave ultraviolet light illuminates the specimens.

Incandescent LightPhosphorescent case
 
Long wave and short wave ultraviolet light
Fluorescent case


CRYSTAL MINE

The Crystal Mine also has more touchable minerals such as Smithsonite, Aquamarine and crystal geodes.

 

Smithsonite
Smithsonite
Aquamarine
Aquamarine
crystal geodes
Crystal Geodes

 

 

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