Updated: Dec 11, 2022
May the 18th is International Museum Day and, since we all love the chance to gawp at an impressive gemstone, here are 5 of the best gemstone and jewellery museums around the world. There’s a twist this year, though—thanks to Covid-19, museums all over the world are shut, so my list is made up of museums that allow you to view their collection online!
Here in London, I’m lucky enough to have the Natural History Museum nearby. The museum’s collection houses a mind-blowing 500,000 specimens, which researchers can search online. A wonderful selection of these is displayed in original Victorian oak display cabinets in the museum’s vast mineralogy hall. However, until you’re able to travel again, the Natural History Museum has teamed up with Google Arts and Culture to bring you a virtual exhibition of the museum’s highlights.
Next up is the world-famous Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington D.C. The museum has around 350,000 mineral specimens and 100,000 gemstones in its collection, so plenty to quench your thirst for knowledge! There are a few close up photographs here, but the Smithsonian allows you to view every display at your own pace in their virtual 360-degree room-by-room tour. You’ll find the gemstones and minerals on the second floor.
Moscow’s Fersman Mineralogical Museum is one of the largest mineralogical museums in the world, with many thousands of natural crystals, geodes, druzes and other kinds of minerals in its collection . Among these is a treasure trove of 8000 gemstones. On display are rough stones, faceted stones and objects made from gemstones. An important part of the Fersman’s collection are the 18th-20th century gemstone objects d’art, which include around 30 items made by famous jeweller, Karl Faberge. While the Fersman Mineralogical Museum is closed, you can view the gemstone exhibitions on its Instagram page, which is updated each day with a new exhibit.
The Los Angeles Natural History Museum contains some of the world’s finest exhibits in its Gem and Mineral Hall. As well as an extensive collection of California specimens, the museum houses gemstone from all over the world. It’s well worth visiting the Gem and Mineral page on the LA Natural History Museum Website, where you can access ‘stories’ about the collections. My favourite is a video from the NHM’s vaults: Gemstones of The Americas.
It’s back to London to see the Crown Jewels, or ‘The Coronation Regalia’ to give them their official name. The Crown Jewels have been kept in the Tower of London since the 17th century and are one of the UK’s most popular tourist attractions, with around 3 million visitors per year. Though the exhibition itself isn’t offering a virtual tour yet, you can see a handful of the dazzling highlights of the collection online.
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