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TITLE: Gems and Minerals

Born of fluid, heat, and pressure, gems dazzle us with their breathtaking colors, shapes, and diversity. The gems in the National Gem Collection were discovered in all corners of the world and are among the Earth's great splendors.

[Photo Link: The Hope Diamond]
The Hope

[Photo Link: All About Gems]
All About

[Photo Link: The National Gem Collection]
The National
Gem Collection

Minerals are more than beautiful display pieces. They are the very building blocks of the universe. Minerals make up the Earth, the Moon, and the meteorites that voyage to Earth from other parts of the Solar System. They hold the tangible evidence scientists need to learn about our world. Modern civilization relies heavily on mineral resources. You use minerals more than you may imagine.

[Photo Link: Crystal Shapes]
Crystal Shapes
[Photo Link: Crystal Growth]
Crystal Growth
[Photo Link: Color]
[Photo Link: Building Blocks of Rocks]
Building Blocks
of Rocks
[Photo Link: Pegmatites]

The National Gem and Mineral Collection has grown through gifts from individuals. Three of the most important donors are Washington A. Roebling, Frederick A. Canfield and Dr. Isaac Lea.

Washington A. Roebling

Washington A. Roebling (1837-1926)
Roebling was an engineer who built New York City's Brooklyn Bridge. He assembled one of the finest private mineral collections in the U.S. In 1926, his son, John A., donated 16,000 specimens to the Smithsonian.


Frederick A. Canfield

Frederick A. Canfield (1849-1926)
Canfield, a mining engineer, donated a collection in 1926 that numbered 9,000 specimens and was particularly rich in minerals from New Jersey's renowned zinc mines.


Dr. Isaac Lea

Dr. Isaac Lea (1792-1880)
Lea, a Philadelphia publisher, assembled a superb collection of gemstones. In 1894, his daughter, Mrs. Francis Lea Chamberlain, donated 1,316 gems to the Smithsonian the core of this Museum's gem collection.

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Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History Department of Mineral Sciences website Credits