First display of Medusa emerald at Natural History Museum

20 July 2012

A one-of-a-kind emerald, nicknamed the Medusa, goes on show at the Natural History Museum today in its first public display in Europe.

The Medusa emerald has unusually large and strongly coloured crystals and should delight visitors to the Museum's Vault gallery, its new home for the next 12 months.

An early stage of revealing the Medusa emerald from the quartz rock.

An early stage of revealing the Medusa emerald from the quartz rock. © Collector's Edge

The emerald was uncovered from the Kagem mine in Zambia in 2008 by Gemfields, the gemstone mining company who are loaning it to the Museum.

Alan Hart, Head of Mineral Collections at the Museum, says, ‘The Medusa emerald is a spectacular example of natural emerald crystals with intense colour and high clarity.

‘The care taken to reveal these crystals is amazing and the emerald is one of the world’s finest mineral specimens. We are thrilled to have it on display for visitors at the Museum to see.'

The Medusa emerald was hidden for thousands of years inside a huge boulder of quartz rock.

Miners usually break down large boulders with a pneumatic hammer. However, Gemfields realised they would need a different approach to reveal the potentially world-class gem inside.

More of the stunning Medusa emerald is exposed

More of the stunning Medusa emerald is exposed © Collector's Edge

They sent the boulder to mineral dealers Collector’s Edge in the United States. In the world’s most advanced mineral cleaning laboratory, a team of experts used state-of-the-art techniques to uncover the treasures within.

Several months of delicate and laborious work, painstakingly removing the quartz millimetre by millimetre, finally revealed the beautiful emerald crystals.

The Vault

The Medusa emerald sits alongside many other fabulous jewels and mineral treasures in The Vault, including the collection of coloured diamonds known as the Aurora Pyramid of Hope and the recently acquired Tissint Martian meteorite.

Gemfields Sales Director Gabriella Endlin says, ‘We were thrilled to be able to loan the specimen to the Natural History Museum. This is a very rare and extraordinary piece and there could be no better institution than the Natural History Museum to present the Medusa emerald to.'

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