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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History

Unusual Gems

Photograph of a group of rare and unusual gems (NMNH G9018, G8633, G9837, G8454, and G8419) from the National Gem Collection
Photo by Chip Clark. Click to zoom.
SpecimenCatalog NumberLocalityWeight
Hydroxyl-herderiteNMNH G8419-00Minas Gerais, Brazil1.5 ct
AnglesiteNMNH G9837-00Touissit Mine, Morocco18.62 ct
RhodochrositeNMNH G8454-00Hotazel, Cape Province, South Africa21.32 ct
BaryteNMNH G8633-00Sardegna, Italy37.5 ct
SphaleriteNMNH G9018-00Aliva Mine, Santander, Spain87.87 ct

Rhodochrosite (bottom center) is prized for its rose red color, but it is soft and gems, such as this 21.3ct stone from South Africa, must be handled carefully. Sphalerite (top left) is the primary ore of zinc, but occasionally attractive crystals are found that can be cut into gems: this 87.9ct orange colored gem is from Spain. Completing the group are a light purple herderite gem (1.5ct, bottom right) from Brazil; a yellow anglesite gem (18.6ct, bottom left) from Morocco; and a golden yellow barite gem (37.5ct, top right) from Italy.


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