New home for NYC museum's collection of gems to open in 2019

NEW YORK (AP) Exotic gemstones and minerals will soon be on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, including a recently announced 12-foot-tall (3-meter-tall) amethyst geode acquired from Uruguay.

The new Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals will open in 2019 in conjunction with the museum's 150th anniversary. The New York Times reports the new gallery also will display the Star of India blue sapphire and the 632-carat Patricia Emerald.

At 563 carats, the Star of India is the world's largest gem-quality blue star sapphire. Some 2 billion years old, it is also one of the most well-known objects in the world. Rutile, a mineral in the Star of India, gives the gem its milky quality and star effect. Tiny fibers of rutile in a three-fold pattern reflect incoming light in the star pattern. This effect, called asterism, makes this gem a true star.

The Patricia Emerald is a large and superbly colored specimen. At 632 carats, the dihexagonal, or twelve-sided, crystal is considered one of the great emeralds in the world. Found in Colombia in 1920, it was named after the mine owner's daughter. The flaws in this emerald are normal but compromise the hard gem's durability. This specimen is one of the very few large emeralds that have been preserved uncut. Today, Colombia is still the world's major source of emeralds.

The current mineral and gem halls at the museum will close on Oct. 26. The museum's collection includes about 105,000 minerals and 5,000 gems.

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