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Department of Mineral Sciences

Izalco Volcano

The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals

The Janet Annenberg Hooker Hall of Geology, Gems, and Minerals is located in the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History. The 20,000 square foot permanent exhibition is home to the Hope Diamond as well as 3,500 other specimens from the National Gem and Mineral Collections, the National Rock and Ore Collections, and the National Meteorite Collection. The specimens are augmented by two dozen interactive computer presentations and videos, large panels of stunning artwork, and a real-time display of global earthquake data.

Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace

On September 27, 2010 the Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace went on exhibit in the Harry Winston Gallery, adjacent to the Hope Diamond at the National Museum of Natural History. The necklace will remain on public view in the Winston Gallery through the spring of 2011 before moving to its home in the National Gem Gallery.

GeoGallery: The Cullinan Blue Diamond Necklace

Tiffany Diamond

The loan of the diamond celebrates a $1.1 million gift from The Tiffany & Co. Foundation. Also on view for the first time are two rare gemstones that were purchased for the National Gem Collection through an endowment created by The Tiffany & Co. Foundation gift. Exhibit: until Sept. 23, 2007.

Tiffany Diamond

The Allure of Pearls

Twelve of the rarest pearls in the world were on public display together for the first time in “The Allure of Pearls” exhibition at the National Museum of Natural History, from March 18 through Sept. 5, 2005.

The exhibit in the museum’s Harry Winston Gallery included the Hope Pearl, previously owned by Lord Henry Philip Hope, the same Englishman who gave his name to the Hope Diamond. It was the first time the Hope Pearl has been reunited with the Hope Diamond since they were together in Hope’s collection – more than 150 years ago. Also on view was the La Peregrina, one of the largest and most famous pearls in the world, currently owned by Elizabeth Taylor and given to her by Richard Burton.

Other rare pearls in the exhibition include the Drexel Pearl, a large natural grey pearl from Polynesia in a Cartier setting from 1905; Black Beauty, a beautiful eggplant-colored natural black pearl from South America; the Pearl of Kuwait, a natural drop pearl from the Persian Gulf; the Queen Mary Brooch featuring two large natural pink conch pearls in a 100-year-old setting, owned by Queen Mary, wife of His Majesty King George V; South Sea Drops, rare matched pair of natural South Sea pearls; the Survival Pearl, reputed to be the world’s largest pink snail formation pearl, a freshwater pearl found in the United States; the Pearl of Asia, reputed to be the largest natural pearl in the world and once owned by Shah Jahan (Builder of Taj Mahal); and the Paspaley Pearl, one of the largest and most beautiful cultured pearls in the world, on public display for the first time.

The exhibition was made possible by the support of its principal sponsor, Paspaley Pearls Pty. Ltd., Iridesce, and the Gemological Institute of America. A collection of South Sea pearls have been donated to the museum by Paspaley Pearls Pty. Ltd., several of which are on display in the National Gem Collection Gallery.

GeoGallery: The Allure of Pearls

The Carmen Lúcia Ruby

On October 16, 2004, the Carmen Lúcia Ruby—one of the world’s largest and finest ruby gemstones—went on view in the Museum’s National Gem Collection Gallery. The spectacular 23.1-carat Burmese ruby, set in a platinum ring with two trillient-cut diamonds, was a gift from businessman and philanthropist Dr. Peter Buck in memory of his wife Carmen Lúcia. Mined from the fabled Mogok region of Burma in the 1930’s, the ruby possesses a richly saturated homogenous red color and an exceptional degree of transparency. While sapphire, emerald and diamond gems weighing hundreds of carats exist, high-quality Burmese rubies larger than 20 carats are exceedingly rare.

GeoGallery: Carmen Lúcia Ruby

The Splendor of Diamonds

A dazzling array of the world’s seven rarest diamonds, all in brilliant hues, were brought together in “The Splendor of Diamonds” (June 27 – Sept. 15, 2003). The seven magnificent diamonds in this special exhibition are among the rarest and most valuable in the world. They are unique because of their size and color. Few people – including some of the world’s most experienced diamond experts – have ever had the opportunity to see a collection of such color, size, and beauty. The Smithsonian Institution, the Steinmetz Group, and the Gemological Institute of America (GIA) collaborated to bring this group of diamonds together for public view for the first and only time.

The diamonds include the Steimetz Pink; the 203 ct. Millennium Star; the Moussaieff Red, discovered by a farmer in Brazil; the vivid yellow Allnatt Diamond from South Africa; the Ocean Dream, a breathtaking blue-green diamond; the deep-blue Heart of Eternity; and the Pumpkin Diamond, worn by Halle Berry when she accepted her 2002 Oscar for Best Actress.

GeoGallery: The Splendor of Diamonds

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