The Houston Museum of Natural Science was founded in 1909 – meaning that the curators of the Houston Museum of Natural Science have been collecting and preserving natural and cultural treasures for a hundred years now. For this yearlong series, our current curators have chosen one hundred exceptional objects from the Museum’s immense storehouse of specimens and artifacts—one for each year of our history. Check back here frequently to learn more about this diverse selection of behind-the-scenes curiosities—we will post the image and description of a new object every few days.
This description is from Joel, the Museum’s President and Curator of Gems and Minerals. He’s chosen spectacular objects from the Museum’s mineralogy collection, which includes some of the most rare and fascinating mineral specimens in the world, that we’ll be sharing here – and at 100.hmns.org– throughout the year.
Beryl – Variety Morganite
White Queen Mine, San Diego County, California
The White Queen mine is famous for beautiful crystals of pink beryl (the gem variety “morganite,” named after financier J. P. Morgan). The pictured 7.9-cm crystal, found in 1964, may well be the best ever found there. It has good color, no damage, a glassy luster on the big hexagonal “c” face, and interesting crystal form, and it rests on a base of white albite crystals. Peter Bancroft, in his World’s Finest Minerals and Crystals (1973), considers this specimen to be the world’s finest example of pink beryl (although fans of examples from Madagascar and Brazil might put up an argument).