Gemstones have been a source of fascination for millennia, from the icy brilliance of diamond and the soft iridescence of pearl, to the deep red garnets treasured by ancient Egyptians and Victorians alike. They are used for their natural beauty in jewellery, worn for protection as talismans, and associated with romance and power. They are also of scientific importance, forming over billions of years and containing secrets to the inner earth.
This book examines the world's most commonly encountered gemstones, exploring their unique beauty, rarity, and durability. It reveals how these gem materials formed, where they are mined, how they are identified by their physical and optical properties, their enhancements and imitations. Travelling through each gem's history and use in adornment, it is filled with fascinating facts for the curious to the professional. With sumptuous colour photographs, The Natural History Museum Book of Gemstones is a dazzling insight into the world of the rare and valuable.
Robin Hansen is Curator of Minerals and Gemstones at the Natural History Museum, London. She has over thirteen years' experience in both the mining sector and the world of private mineral collecting. In her role at the Museum, she helps manage and care for the mineral and gem collections, which amount to some 185,000 specimens.