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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Smithsonites

No description of this
                                          asset is available
Photo by Ken Larsen. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
SmithsoniteNMNH G10034-0079 Mine, Arizona, United States14.4 ct
SmithsoniteNMNH G8040-00Arkansas, United States11.04 ct
SmithsoniteNMNH G6607-00New Mexico, United States-

Gift of Chamberlain Fund in 1992.

The zinc carbonate mineral smithsonite was named after James Smithson, the British chemist and mineralogist who first recognized it as a distinct mineral. James Smithson (1754-1829) was the founder of the Smithsonian Institution. He was a well-regarded scientist and dedicated his life to investigating the natural world, traveling in Europe to find crystals and minerals to discover and classify their properties. Smithsonite was a principal source of zinc until the 1880s, but it is now mined as a minor ore of zinc. It is typically found as botryoidal masses and only rarely found as well-formed crystals. Gem quality smithsonite is very rare and typically exhibits a semi-transparent bluish-green color with beautiful luster. The gems pictured here show a range of colors and are all from the United States. The faceted green gem is from Arizona, the yellow cabochon is from Arkansas, and the blue cabochon is from New Mexico.


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