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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Unusual Gems

Photograph of a group of rare and unusual gems (NMNH G3803, G8122, G3386, G4917, G8636, and G9973) from the National Gem Collection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
StibiotantaliteNMNH G4917-00Brazil7.3 ct
CupriteNMNH G8122-00Onganja Mine, South West Africa203.9 ct
WulfeniteNMNH G9973-00Red Cloud Mine, Arizona, United States6.1 ct
ScheeliteNMNH G8636-00Huckaby Mine, California, United States37.04 ct
ScheeliteNMNH G3803-00Arizona, United States12.4 ct
ZinciteNMNH G3386-00New Jersey, United States20.1 ct

Center: a pale yellow stibiotantalite gem (7.3ct) from Brazil. Clockwise from top: an exceptionally large deep red cuprite gem (203ct) from Namibia; a colorless scheelite gem (37.04ct) from California; an orange-red wulfenite gem (6.05ct) from Arizona; a brilliant red zincite gem (20.1ct) from Franklin, New Jersey; and a yellow scheelite gem (12.4ct) from Arizona. Scheelite is the major ore of tungsten (used in light bulb filaments and special steel alloys), but occasionally crystals of scheelite are found that can be cut into gems.


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