Gems - Mineral Crystals Part II
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As I said before, gems have played a role in our history. There are many famous gems. There are some gems that are famous for their size or their extraordinary color. Usually both. I am going to talk about a couple of the most famous.
The most famous gem in the world is the Hope Diamond. The Hope Diamond is a very large blue-white diamond currently owned by the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, United States. It is the second most visited work of art in the world. The Hope Diamond has been bought, sold and stolen many times since it was discovered in India. At one point it belonged to the kings and queens of France. It was stolen from France during the French Revolution. The people that stole the gem had it re-cut to disguise it then sold it in England. The Hope Diamond was eventually sold to people in the United States who sold it to the Smithsonian Museum.
The next most famous gems are the so-called “Crown Jewels.” When people talk about the “Crown Jewels,” they are usually talking about the Crown Jewels of the United Kingdom specifically. The Crown Jewels are not a pile of jewels, per se. They are the gem studded royal regalia worn by the king or queen of the United Kingdom during coronation and other very rare ceremonies. Regalia is a fancy word for fancy clothes worn by the king or queen. The Crown Jewels include crowns, swords, jewelry, scepters, and the Koh-i-noor. The Koh-i-noor was once the largest known diamond in the world. It is a very large white diamond. I like the look of the hope diamond better. I like the blue color. I think white diamonds are very boring; however, I know that most people like diamonds.
© Crown copyright. The Crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother. She wore it with the arches removed at her daughter's coronation in 1953. (You can seen the large Koh-i-noor diamond in the center above another slightly smaller diamond.)
© Crown copyright. Dating from 1661, the Sovereign's Sceptre with Cross signifies temporal power. The sceptre is 92.2cm (36.2 inches) long. Precious stones include the 530 carat Cullinan I diamond.
© Crown copyright. The Queen holds the Orb and Sceptre used at her Coronation, 2 June 1953.
Most of the famous gems are diamonds. I really don’t know why. There’s some kind of crazy mystique that surrounds diamonds. Diamonds are made from carbon, one of the most common elements on earth. Because diamonds made from carbon they are actually very common compared to other gemstones. Diamonds are only expensive because of very good advertising and a company called De Beers of Amsterdam. De Beers rigidly controls the diamond trade. Basically, De Beers owns so many diamonds and diamond mines that if you try to sell diamonds without following their rules they will flood the market with diamonds and drive the price of diamonds down and drive you right out of business.
Gems are high quality crystals prized for their bright colors and brilliant gleam. My personal favorite gem is opal. What’s yours?