The Hubert C. de Monmonier Collection
Overview: During his lifetime, Hubert C. de Monmonier was able to amass hundreds of mineral specimens of over 60 different species. His unique collection, representing many of the important mineral-producing regions of the world, includes precious metals, gemstones, and a dazzling variety of quartz.
Gold (8% of the collection)
Since its discovery, gold has taken on a universal symbolism, often associated with the principles of royalty, purity, and value. Its chemical symbol, Au, is from the Latin word aurum, meaning “shining dawn.”
Silver (5% of the collection)
Silver was one of the first metals to be mined by humans, but as much as 75 percent of the silver in existence today was mined after 1770. Naturally occurring “wire silver”, with branching and curling wire-like shapes, is relatively uncommon.
Platinum is an uncommon metal, and large platinum nuggets are exceptionally rare. Over the past hundred years platinum has a variety of uses, ranging from jewelry to industrial catalysts. Most platinum today comes from South Africa, Russia, Canada, and the United States.
Tourmaline (17% of the collection)
Tourmaline is used as a group name for several different minerals, the most common being schorl and elbaite. Tourmalines, which come in almost every color, are prized as gemstones for their color, workability, and durability.
Beryl (4% of the collection)
Beryl derives its name from Greek word, beryllos, an ancient word for several blue-green gemstones. Aquamarine and emerald are among the most popular varieties of beryl gemstone, in which color differences occur from small amounts of impurities.
Topaz has been used as a gemstone since antiquity. Natural topaz is typically colorless, while yellow and brown topaz is colored by impurities. Bright blue topaz is created by artificially irradiating the colorless crystals.
Quartz Varieties (40 % of the collection)
Amethyst and Citrine Quartz
Amethyst and citrine both derive their colors from iron. Some of the finest examples of amethyst in the world come from the State of Guerrero in Mexico. Guerrero amethysts are easily recognized by their elongated shape and deep, rich purple color.
Smoky quartz owes its color to natural radiation from the surrounding rock that affects the structure of the crystal.
Rutilated quartz has slender golden needles of the titanium oxide mineral rutile within its crystals. Another variety called “Herkimer diamonds” often contains bubbles filled with gas and liquid or occasionally dark petroleum.
Fadens are quartz crystals with a white thread-like zone running through their interior. They are formed in areas of low temperature and pressure where rock cavities are pulled apart. Inside the cavities, the crystals repeatedly break and heal, resulting in the distinctive white scars.
Gwindel, from the German word gewunden meaning twisted, refers to groups of horizontally stacked quartz crystals that twist upward. Both beautiful and rare, gwindels have always been highly prized by collectors.
All pictures courtesy of Sven Bailey