Shining Stones: Gems & Minerals at Yale

For pure beauty in a dark room, little can beat the David Friend Hall at Yale’s Peabody Museum of Natural History.

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This newly-renovated hall offers a jaw-dropping look at gems and minerals from all around the world. Pretty much every continent is represented here — there are wonders from Asia …

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Beryl (aquamarine) with albite from Pakistan

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Fluorapophylite with stilbite from India

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Beryl (aquamarine) from Pakistan

… Australia …

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Opals

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Calcite

… Europe …

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Pyromorphite from France

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Quartz from France

… Africa…

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Malachite from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

… South America …

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Quartz, variety agate, from Brazil

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Elbaite from Brazil

… and North America:

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Pyromorphite from the US (Pennsylvania)

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Microcline, variety amazonite, from the US (Colorado)

China has some particularly remarkable mineral formations on display:

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Aragonite

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Stibnite

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Fluorite

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Scheelite

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Aragonite, variety flos ferri

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Chalcopyrite on siderite

There are also many incredible specimens from the US and Canada …

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Rhodochrosite from Colorado

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Smithsonite from New Mexico

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Calcite on fluorite with sphalerite from Tennessee

… including glowing stalactites from Arizona…

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Calcite

… an ammolite (a fossilized shell) composed of aragonite from Southern Alberta …

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… and a giant panel from Wyoming made up of a 50-year-old fossilized palm frond with dozens of fossilized fish:

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This is a room where you spend far more time oohing and aahing than learning things — there’s nothing in this hall about how these wonders were formed — but if you step into a smaller, somewhat brighter room, you can find out a tiny bit more about how gems and minerals come into being. The display starts out with minerals from magmatic environments; these are rocks that form when molten rock material cools and crystalizes.

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Tiger’s Eye from South Africa

Really exciting things happen when fluids meet heat — these are rocks with hydrothermal origins:

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Metamorphic rocks — rocks that form from other rocks as a result of changes like pressure or temperature — tend to be a little less showy.

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Corundum from Tanzania

This room also gives you a look at fluorescent rocks, including calcite, gypsum, fluorite, and opal, which glow when hit by rays of UV light.

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Yale also pays homage to its home state with several exhibit spaces dedicated to minerals from Connecticut.

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And no exhibit of gems would be complete without jewels — but this is even more fitting at Yale, since its namesake, Elihu Yale, was a diamond merchant. There’s nothing here that can be traced back to Mr. Yale himself, but you’ll find jewels both uncut …

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… and in their fabulous settings, including earrings of rubies and pearls from mid-nineteenth century India…

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… a Tiffany necklace of sapphires and diamonds …

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… a ring from Edwardian England of emeralds and diamonds …

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… and a ruby and diamond stunner named “The Mandalay Princess”:

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But my very favorite section of this exhibit was the section titled “Thumbnail Specimens,” which I called “the tinies.”

fullsizeoutput_4704Truly no bigger than the top part of a finger, these little specimens are like tiny miniature worlds, dots of fascinating perfection.

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Malachite in calcite from Morocco

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Stilbite with quartz from India

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Aragonite from China

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Vivianite with barite from the Ukraine

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Spodumene, variety kunzite, from Afghanistan

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Fluorite with barite from Spain

I spent ages studying these itty-bitty beauties!

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Pectolite from Quebec, Rhodochrosite from Argentina, and Malachite from Mexico

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Fluorite from South Africa, Stibnite from Romania, and Aragonite from Slovakia

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Fluorapatite from Brazil, Malachite from Namibia, Wulfenite from Mexico, Fluorite from Tennessee, and Rutile from Pakistan

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Rhodochrosite (South Africa), Scolecite (India), and Aquamarine (Namibia)

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Dolomite (Morocco) and Calcite (China)

 

 

 

 

One response to “Shining Stones: Gems & Minerals at Yale

  1. Pingback: Peabody Museum Nostalgia | Traveler Tina·

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