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Largest topaz of its kind to go on display

One of the world’s most colourful and flawless large gemstones, the Ostro stone, will go on permanent show in the Museum’s Minerals gallery from 19 October 2016.

The gemstone weighs in at an impressive 9,381 carats - around 2 kilograms, similar in weight to two bags of sugar. It is the first large cut topaz of its kind to go on display at the Museum and will go on show alongside specimens from one of the world’s most important mineral collections.

The Ostro stone will be available for the public to view at the Museum through a long term loan from philanthropist Maurice Ostro OBE. It has been in the family vaults for three decades since it was discovered in its natural form by his father gemstone pioneer Max Ostro in Minas Gerais, Brazil. It is 15 centimetres in length, 10.5 centimetres wide and its vivid blue colour is exceptional as the various treatment procedures are commonly used for such stones and rarely result in such an intense blue.

Mike Rumsey, Senior Curator of the Minerals Collection at the Natural History Museum says:

'This stone is an excellent example of how as humans, we have crafted beautiful and desirable objects from the natural mineral specimens we find around us, like those that we preserve in the collections at Museum. It will be on display alongside some of our world leading collection of minerals and gems, which is studied by scientists here to find new sources of minerals, gemstones and metals.'

Ostro Minerals was founded by Max Ostro in 1960. His son Maurice, a well-known entrepreneur and philanthropist, took the helm of the family business 6 years ago when his father died and started to use it to support his various charitable projects.

Maurice Ostro says:

'Collecting beautiful coloured gems was my father’s passion; my mission is to leverage his remarkable legacy in a way that would make him proud. We are delighted that the finest of his gemstones will now be part of the collection at the Natural History Museum who share our passion for exceptional stones.'

The Ostro Stone will be displayed in the Mineral gallery from 19 October 2016. It was be officially unveiled at a private evening launch in the Museum’s Hintze Hall on Thursday 6 October. 

Sir Michael Dixon, Director of the Natural History Museum adds:

'We are delighted to be able to display this exquisite blue topaz stone alongside some of nature’s finest mineral examples in this gallery. Our thanks go to Maurice Ostro for the opportunity to showcase this wonderful stone to millions of people.'

The event will also feature a performance by creative maverick and artist Daphne Guinness, singing a selection of tracks from her album, produced by Tony Visconti.

Three new pieces of 'wearable art' using topaz donated by Ostro through the Outset Contemporary Art Fund by contemporary artists Isaac Julien, Nicole Wermers and Catherine Yass will also be revealed. 


Notes for editors 

  • The Natural History Museum welcomes more than five million visitors a year and is a world-leading science research centre. Through its unique collection and unrivalled expertise it is tackling the biggest challenges facing the world today. It helps enable food security, eradicate disease and manage resource scarcity. It is studying the diversity of life and the delicate balance of ecosystems to ensure the survival of our planet. For more information go to
  • Maurice Ostro OBE is Chairman of Ostro Minerals (UK). He is also the founder and Chair of Trustees of the charitable foundation Fayre Share Foundation (FSF). FSF promotes philanthropy, collaboration, economic development and interfaith relations. Major projects include: Collaboration House - enhancing collaboration between 16 interfaith charities by hosting them in a bespoke shared space owned by the foundation; Entrepreneurial Giving - a campaign and network to encourage purpose in early-stage startups by asking entrepreneurs to pledge a % of their exit proceeds to charity; and Strengthening Faith Institutions- training in good governance and support to engage with women and young people with strong links with the wider community.
  • Outset Contemporary Art Fund, co-founded by current director Candida Gertler OBE in 2003, is an international philanthropic organisation recognised for its pioneering energy in supporting new art and a new generation of artists. Outset connects imagination and impact with creative funding solutions for contemporary art with patronage at its core.